Inspiration in a Heartbeat | MUSIC
OTTAWA | OCTOBER 2018
Some people are living dichotomies. This could be said about Akeem Oh (Ouellet), a young singer-songwriter and author. It’s while going through his darkest hours that his creativity seethes. He finds the inspiration to create his most colorful work in the greyest canvas. He uses the struggles of his day-to-day life to give hope and encouragement to those experiencing similar issues.
Musical creativity emerged quite early in Akeem’s life. When he was four or five years old, his parents bought a piano meant to serve as a decorative piece in their home. Curiosity swept through the child and as he pressed the keys, a new passion came to life.
Many years later, we find him sitting on the same piano bench. Fingers dancing on the black and white keys, he improvises. The melody, shaped note by note, brings with it the first words of a song. The young artist mentions that when he writes his songs, the lyrics are never forced. They simply come to him. His delicate sensitivity grants him a good awareness of his feelings which in turn causes a surge in his creativity. He found he had the most inspiration during periods of anxiety and depression. With his music, he tries to make his audience experience the same devastating and overwhelming feelings he endured during those times. He is also inspired by the authentic conversations he has with some people. He believes he is at a point where he can be more vulnerable.
Akeem doesn’t want to compose to please the masses. For this reason, he stopped working with record labels. Forced creation, deadlines and having to appeal and sell to everyone was counterproductive; the desire and the will to create were gone.
Inspiration came back unexpectedly when he left the label. Akeem is now relentlessly creating, although inspiration comes and goes. More often than not, it is unpredictable. Sometimes it sneaks up on him as he walks around the record store where he works. These days he makes sure Motown invades every inch of the store. Sometimes you can also hear The Beatles, Arcade Fire, Karkwa or Malajube. Some of Quebec’s old yé-yé music from the 60’s makes it on the playlist.
He recently revealed the first track from his upcoming album titled Winter Crush. He uses over 150 instruments on the track. He likes to build up his melody in layers to intensify the feeling of being engulfed. He is a perfectionist and all the details in the song make it unique.
Between working at his part-time job and recording songs, Akeem Oh is involved with young people. He promotes mental health awareness through his own story. He was bullied a great deal as a child. He once again transforms a negative experience into something utterly beautiful and powerful.
He will be in the studio for at least another month. In the near future, maybe in the winter, Akeem Oh would like to offer his own show and since he spends a lot of time in Montreal, you might have the chance to see him!