Here’s a thing you should know about Tim Lyre, he’d rather identify as an afro-fusion artist, than be called an alté artist—not because he thinks his music isn’t alté, but because he understands that his sound has evolved past the unconventional culture.
“Alte is more of a culture thing that has been misunderstood”, the artist explains the alté culture, making corrections of it not necessarily being a genre. While he attests how his sound is a stem off the culture, Tim Lyre has always wanted the uniqueness of his sound, thus consciously working to play with sounds that help him feel good.
“I came out of that alté scene for sure, I’m not going to deny that fact. I’m never going to deny being a part of that culture and movement; and in the grand scheme of things, afro-fusion is a better way to describe my sound. I do a lot of afro, highlife and traditional music”
Tim Lyre’s music is profoundly intentional, there is a way his music captivates listeners and a certain versatility with his sound; maybe that’s what he means when he expresses himself and the conscious packaging of his sound, unwilling to limit it to the confines of public perception of it being alté.
With the release of his very new EP, “Masta”, Tim Lyre warms the cushion of a Zoom meeting room with District234 to expatiate better on his new body of work, which he explains is a more expressive and a bolder version of both him and his sound; he takes the frontline, to state his reason for the EP’s title, and what it signifies for his career. Here’s a cup of chilled water, as you recline and immerse yourself into the interview!
Before the drop of “Masta”, you dropped “Why Evils” featuring Tay Iwar and “Tighter” with Minz, what was the creative process behind these songs and their connection to the EP itself?
With “Tighter”, it was produced by Dare, who I’d been working closely with, I went to his house and we were recording on a bunch of songs, where I eventually liked the beat of the song. The chords just sounded dreamy and it had a dancehall-afro vibe. I was of the opinion that I could work with it, and that same day, we sent it over to Minz. It took a couple day for Minz to send his verse back and that was how “Tighter” came together.
“Why Evils” was a bit different, I had that for a longer period of time because I had recorded my verse for a while in Lagos. I was sent the beat, and I had been sitting on it for long, looking for who to feature on it. I just never found the right person for it. It was when I was in London few months ago that I met Tay at his brother’s show; this was my first time of meeting him. So, my label and his team were already in touch so it was quite easy to get a session together and after playing a bunch of songs, he resonated a lot with “Why Evils”. That’s how the song came about.
As to how they relate to the project itself, the project title is called “Masta” because I want to make music to move, inspire and urge people to be better than their current version. it’s like levelling up and being the opposite mediocrity, mastering yourself. I think “Why Evils” is a representative track of that whole message. “Tighter” is more like the fun side of things and when you listen to the project, you get the whole context.
Would you conclude that your feature of Jords and Khanyisa as artists outside Nigeria is an attempt to penetrate into the international market?
I think there’s that element to it because I do want my music to filter into the entire world because I have something to say. I want to expand my base but at the same time, these artists I worked with, we were very intentional about it and these are artists I listen to and their appearance on it, would help elevate the project. So yeah, it was more of “what can this person do on this song” and stuff.
Do you feel you have incorporated cultural elements of your sour sound into this project? Do you feel it’s a reflection of you in the project, say for instance “Tighter”?
Of course, I feel like every single song I make, there’s a reflection of me in it. I don’t know how to make music that isn’t within and from my soul. So, every Tim Lyre song you listen to, is a full representation of myself. I’m a very deep thinker and at the same time, I try to take things as easy as I can because me being a deep thinker is hard sometimes, because that’s when I start to spiral. So yes, I think it has always been my way to express myself as fully as I possibly can. So yeah, every song I write, has me written over it.
What would you say sets “Masta” apart from the previous projects?
I think it’s a bit wider ranging and also the fact that people might not necessarily have heard me this way. This is the most confident I’ve ever been on any of my projects, so I’m excited for people to hear the other side of things.
What particular message from “Masta” would you want to be picked by listeners, in hope that it reflects you?
I want people to listen to the project and understand that you’re the only one that can better yourself. Have no one tell you that, you are the “Masta” of your life, so get up and do something. That’s the basic idea of this project.
After explaining your sounds and the kind you dabble into, would you say you’re open to experimenting and evolving with your sound?
I feel like every artist should be keen on different sounds, and though I know it isn’t easy to focus on that. I’m like a sponge when it comes to music, so anything I take and I can use, I will use it. I definitely love to experiment and see what works out and what doesn’t.
Explain three themes on which “Masta” is built on
The first one, I feel like I’ve said it before, is about self-confidence—I want people to listen to this and believe they have the power to do what they want to do. I would say another major thing is self-actualization, you would need to understand that you are the only one that can bring out your full potential and at the same time, the third thing I would say is try and enjoy the journey. We’re always so worried about our destination and in it, try enjoying the process. As cliché as it sounds, these are facts of life. The older I got; I started realizing this aspect of myself.
What’s your favourite track(s) off the project?
I’ll probably say “Chasing Wind”, like I said earlier, I’m such a music nerd and I love its theory and the science and I think the song is beautifully crafted for that reason. But again, my reason might be changed tomorrow for another reason.
What’s the story behind “Chasing Wind”?
Funny thing, this song was the first one I made for the “Masta” project. It was the first song I also wrote in the aftermath of the release of my first album, which was released last year. So, I had all these feelings and thoughts in my head, needed to get it out someway and I had this “Chasing Wind” sound come to me. I would say throughout the process of the album being out, I was literally going out for the ride, with how the reception was incredible and I will say, overwhelming. The song was a moment of release for me, like “we’re here, we’ve done this”.
How do you envision the future of your career moving forward with the “Masta” EP?
I hope people realize the strength of the work; I would say that’s my main goal going forward. I want people to understand that I genuinely make music that is unique in this country’s context. I want people to know that I make unique music, and something that is good. I don’t know if people will get this, but I want them to comprehend that I didn’t compromise this and this is me, undiluted. To know that I’m serious, and I’m him. Moving forward, while I don’t think I would want to box myself in, so yeah, I have already started working on new music and not saying too much, it’s a lot bigger in store for me.