The A&R Factory Team recently had an enlightening chat with the much-loved Gospel duo Folarin and Keziah. They tell us more about what it’s like to work as a couple and take us deep into the creative glue of their wonderful music project which has inspired so much during these dark times.
After much thought through the years, we simply define our sound as worship music. There is so much opinion about what constitutes gospel or Christian music genre and we’ve struggled to understand the key differences. For example, we observed that many artists that identify as black are automatically grouped into the gospel category even if their sound says otherwise. Similarly, very few artists that identify as white describe their music as gospel. This creates a type of artificial divide that has left us with more questions than answers in terms of defining a genre. We’ve decided to focus on writing songs that reflect our Christian faith and express them sonically however we see fit. We have been privileged to minister in multicultural spaces and we have learnt that people just want good music and the genre stereotypes can sometimes hinder our ability to connect. We love and listen to several Christian and gospel artists but find that our music blend is genre-defying which gives us the opportunity to connect with listeners regardless of their color, creed and culture.
How did you both start performing together and what is the writing/production process like?
We both started our music journey on different trajectories. Folarin started leading worship in a local church in Nigeria in 1997 and has been doing so ever since. Keziah also started singing in the choir as a teenager in Nigeria but took some time off in her early twenties to focus on other ministry gifts in the church. After we got married in 2011, we both started singing at Talbot Christian Center, Nottingham, England where Folarin was a worship band leader. About a year later, we moved to Canada and continued singing in church as worship leaders in St Catharines and Hamilton, Ontario. We started writing songs and sharing them with members of our Christian faith community and this received an overwhelming response. It soon became obvious to us that we wanted to be more involved with music outside formal church settings. We started the band, Folarin & Keziah in 2018 and released our first album in 2019. Our song writing process is atypical as it tends to focus on inspiration and tapping into the moment. For example, I (Folarin) was having a conversation with a patient who was recovering from Stroke when the inspiration for Relentless (first album title track) was received. We were listening to a heated conversation about who the greatest basketball player is and we concluded it was basically impossible to pour the accolade of ‘greatest’ on any human being. We got to work and the song greatest (title track of sophomore EP) was born. Relentless was written in less than an hour to write while Greatest took over a year to complete. Once we create a song, we reach out to our team to arrange a recording with a live band off the floor. That typically results in a demo that needs additional productions for the final track. The next step involves background vocals jumping on the track before we finally work our way around the track to add our voices as lead singer.
As a couple, how do you find performing together and has it made your bond even stronger?
We really enjoy performing together and we continue to evolve as a duo as we push each other towards excellence. Performing together gives us the chance to spend more time together and travel together. However, contrary to what most people may believe, working as a couple is also fraught with the challenges you face when working with a family member. Performing together also helps us see each other in a different light and exposes to what we both act like when at work. With that knowledge comes more patience to learn how to complement each other and create great music without sacrificing our uniqueness.
Please provide more details about your label and how everything began?
We started God Colors Media Inc in 2019 as a creative start-up focused on producing, performing and publishing worship worship music that is undignified and genre-defying. Like many independent artists, we invested a lot in music production and audio-visual gear during the pandemic when all studios were closed. Although we always wanted to have our own label, that period quickened the process. We decided to self-release all our music and control the production, distribution and promotion of our music. Having a label also allows us to retain ownership of our intellectual property since we write most of music ourselves. Our vision for the future is to support newer artists by offering more flexibility, creativity and control. As we grow in the music business, God Colors Media will help us maintain a larger share of any profits we make from music sales. God Colors Media is currently registered with the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN).
Your 2nd album was just released. Please explain to us how the project came together and what is next?
Our sophomore project, Greatest was released on November 1, 2023. The EP contains 6 tracks and is a collection from some of the songs we started writing during the pandemic. Everything to Me, the first single from the EP, was released at the end of 2022. This was followed with four singles Greatest, Long to Worship, Audience of One and King of Glory in 2023. We decided to feature our friend and one of the most dynamic worship leaders we know, Melina Dulluku-Fisico on the project. Melina is a singer songwriter, musician and worship leader in Ontario, Canada and listeners will get to hear her beautiful voice on Audience of One and King of Glory. Like our first album, all songs were written by Folarin & Keziah with Sam Williams (Toronto) receiving co-production credits. We have an album release and worship concert scheduled for November 12, 2023.
Last, what advice would you give a new musician who is just starting out in this game?
To anyone, thinking about creating music especially with a spiritual essence. Know your listeners, create music you love and look for people that you can work with that will offer great advice but not try to change your vision into theirs. Ultimately, time is the greatest revealer. So, learn to be patient while waiting for your music to be heard around the world. That itself is not a guarantee!