Tems On How Celine Dion Sparked Her Love For Music & Learning To Trust Herself Amid Success
Culture & Entertainment

Tems On How Celine Dion Sparked Her Love For Music & Learning To Trust Herself Amid Success

We can't be the only ones who still have "Free Mind" playing on repeat. Since the release of her debut EP For Broken Ears in 2020, the Nigerian-born singer-songwriter has captivated audiences with her deep, soulful tone that reels you in with every word of her melodies. Most known for providing the lovelorn vocalizations in Wizkid's "Essence," Tems has taken the music scene by storm on a global scale, accomplishing feats such as winning a Grammy and collaborating with the likes of Drake and Rihanna before even having an official album out.

Tems attends the 95th Annual Academy Awards on March 12, 2023.

Mike Coppola/Getty Images

The 28-year-old assures that her debut album is underway. After causing a splash in early 2023 because of a viral moment involving a daring headpiece at the Oscars, Tems, whose real name is Temilade Openiyi, is making waves yet again in the latest issue of Interview Magazine where she speaks candidly with Kendrick Lamar about what sparked her love for music, the freedom and fear of creating, and what she learns from mistakes.

Keep reading for a few key moments from the feature.

Tems on Celine Dion sparking her love for music: 

"I was an extreme introvert when I was younger. I didn’t really talk much. My mom’s friends would be like, 'Yo, Temi, come take a picture,' and I’d just turn around. I’m not sure when the first time I heard music was, but I found myself loving the radio, and I used to hear Celine Dion. Nigerians love Celine Dion. Her songs are very emotional, jump-off-a-cliff-type songs. They entered my soul. I think that’s where my love for music started."

On being drawn to melodies and how she hears music: 

"The melodies. Lyrics also moved me, but there were some I couldn’t relate to. There were rap songs I was listening to that were about a man impregnating you. I didn’t understand that, so I didn’t feel it in my spirit. But I started hearing melodies of my own that weren’t in the song. Even now when I hear music, it’s a frequency I experience. That’s how I started freestyling, because I started singing over the songs that I was listening to with my own melodies that I was hearing in my head."

Tems on remembering her "why" when she feels pressure to conform: 

"Yeah, you have to remember how you felt when you started as an artist, to understand the reason you’re doing what you’re doing. Yes, it’s to be seen, or to make a name for yourself, but beyond that, why are you doing it? Most of the time it’s because you have a story to share, a message to give. When you become more known or seen, it’s very easy to get caught up in, 'What do people expect of me now?' But for me, it’s like, 'What do I expect of myself now?'
"Because you’re the one that has to live with yourself, the one that has to sleep with the decisions that you make. Trusting yourself is so key, and I’m not going to stop trusting my guts just because people can see me now. It’s like being in a zoo. The animals don’t change their behavior just because you’re looking at them. They’re always going to be who they are. So why should I change?"

On losing and finding herself in the freedom of her craft: 

"...sometimes it freaks me out. Sometimes I freestyle to a point where I can’t feel my feet. I’ve entered somewhere and I don’t even know where I am anymore. I’m just pouring out my gut and then when I’m done, I don’t remember what I just did. If you didn’t record it, it’s almost as if I blacked out."

Tems on how she views mistakes: 

"I use it as fuel. Every time I feel like I shouldn’t have done something, I’ve noticed that things always sort themselves out. The thing about making mistakes is there’s grace. We’re all going to make mistakes, but what happens when you do?"

To read Tems' full conversation with Kendrick, click here.

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Featured image by Jeff Spicer/Getty Images for BMI London Awards

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