“The most enjoyable aspect for me is crafting songs from scratch together and blending our talents into one vast creative pot. We wrote our very first song together in 30 minutes, which still stands as a personal world record,” laughs V from the LA-based duo Emotional Orange, discussing their current collaboration with Nigerian singer-songwriter and producer, Nonso Amadi. She adds, “We both hail from different corners of the country, but our mindsets align particularly when it comes to music creation.” Having previously collaborated successfully on the single ‘Not Worthy,’ it was only a matter of time before a continuation of their creative connection emerged.
Their first collab EP Blended, as the name aptly suggests, promises listeners a musical journey infused with a blend of R&B, Afrobeats, Soul, Amapiano, and various other musical inspirations. We spoke with the trio about the most enjoyable and challenging aspects of this collaboration, their musical journeys and obstacles, and the best life advice they’ve ever received.
header photography by Brando
First time you, A and V met, and what was your first impression back then?
Nonso Amadi : My first meeting with A and V was backstage at their show in Toronto. My manager, Gavin introduced me, but it was a short introduction before they had to go on stage. We reconnected again in their studio in LA. We had discussed doing the EP over the phone and they invited me to start working on the project together. They were very welcoming, and the most amazing hosts. We spent a long time chatting about life, industry, food, and other interests before actually making music together.
A and V, when you started your career, you were quite anonymous and only showed your faces while performing. After hearing stories from people you met backstage about how much your music has helped them through difficult times, you decided to show a bit more of yourselves so that people can take even more inspiration away with them. How has your life and career changed after that decision, and are there moments where you wish to turn back time to be more anonymous again?
V : Some thing I love about how EO began was how we pushed the music & artwork forward. We created a universe that people could connect and relate to without judgment. I actually never went into this not wanting to be seen, and I love that we can connect more personally with our fans now. The evolution of showing our faces happened very organically. But to answer your question, no, I absolutely would not want to go back and be anonymous again. I feel a much deeper connection now that fans know who I am.
“There’s so much fun shit we’ve been able to do that keeps me constantly inspired and feeling like a kid. I hope we never lose that childlike excitement.” A
Your band name has been widely discussed and I love it too. Funnily enough, yesterday I was holding an orange and took a picture of it because I felt so fascinated by its vibrant color. There is something so positive, life-affirming about that color and the fruit too. What’s your association with the band’s name these days? From my experience, this sometimes changes from the beginning when we chose a brand name to later on when other layers are added through experiences.
A : First off, I really appreciate how well thought out this question is, so thank you for that. These days, I’m just grateful that we don’t have a band name that takes itself too seriously. There’s so much fun shit we’ve been able to do that keeps me constantly inspired and feeling like a kid. I hope we never lose that childlike excitement.
In an interview in 2019, you, A, spoke openly about your anxiety and said that it sometimes even appears in the middle of a concert, and that you deal with it by being open about it. Is it something that still accompanies you? And why did you nevertheless pursue a path where you knew you had to face those difficult moments?
A : As time goes on, I’ve faced different obstacles just learned that it’s more about how I respond to it than anything else. I’m working on getting better at taking a moment and being gentle with myself. Just speaking from my own personal experiences, but there’s always stressful parts about being an artist but I certainly couldn’t imagine a life without it. I’ve been writing and creating long before it became a “job”, and I’m grateful that it’s still feeding my spirit because I’ve seen a lot of people burn out over the years. In short, I wouldn’t change a thing.
And at what age and how did you get into music?
A : My Mom got me into Piano when I was 3 or 4. I used to go to the Colburn School of Arts in Downtown LA every Sunday. Steve was my teacher, he was great. I stuck with it until the end of Middle School when I was playing violin in the band (I did not enjoy this at the time). I wish I continued playing as it’s much more difficult to re-learn now, but I plan on getting back into it eventually.
“Sometimes our next chapter finds us exactly when we’re looking for it.” V
V, you were on Broadway, so theater was your first love and dream. When and why did your path go in a different direction?
V : I was on the European Tour of West side Story when I auditioned for their Broadway company. I had many call backs, but when I didn’t book the job I was heartbroken. It was in that moment I decided to start creating my own music and write my own story. So I picked up everything from NYC, which wasn’t much at that time, and moved to LA; couch hopping until I sorted out a living situation. There was a shift that happened to me when I started getting into the studio on my own, I absolutely fell in love with recording and writing music.. that’s when my recording artist era truly began. Sometimes our next chapter finds us exactly when we’re looking for it.
Who asked who on this collaboration with Nonso Amadi?
A : I reached out to Nonso on DM in 2017 just showing love on his song “Radio” that I had heard. But my boy Gavin (who runs Public Records and manages Nonso) was the one who officially made the connection. He knew how much of a fan I was. I sent him “Not Worthy” and the rest is history. I’m forever grateful to those guys as it’s rare to find genuine people who care about your well being in this industry.
Nonso, you have a chemical engineering degree. Are you still also working in that field, or are you fully committed to music now? And how did music come into play anyway?
Nonso Amadi : Yes, I do. I have been trying to find a way to merge both worlds as they are completely different from one another, aside from some ethical truths, that guide all disciplines, such as presentation, hard work, and so on. I believe the right path to using my degree will come to me soon, as of now, I only have music as my sole career. I had always had an interest in music, right from an early age. Thanks to my sisters, who were fans of R&B music. It just so happened at some point, that a friend of mine brought his laptop to school and introduced me to the world of music-recording which opened my eyes to being able to ideate and produce my ideas. After many years of experimenting and formulating my musical preferences, I have grown into an artist that is crafting his unique sound and lane and I believe I am still growing and learning every day that comes.
Nonso, you grew up in Nigeria, later moved to the UK, and are now based in Canada. Where do you feel most at home, and is there a place that inspires you more for your music writing process?
Nonso Amadi : I feel most at home in Nigeria. Most of my family is still out there, but I am blessed to have been able to move around from the UK to Canada. I find that I am most inspired when I am on the move more than when I am sitting in one place for a long period. I have found that this is true of most artists I have encountered. Traveling opens up our minds and allows us to be more inspired.
“The best life advice I have heard is to “remember that you were a human being first before your musician, painter, lawyer doctor, and treat others with kindness and respect”. Nonso Amadi
What has been the most fun and the most challenging in this collaboration?
V : The most fun for me is building songs from scratch together and melting our talents into one giant creative pot. We wrote our very first song together in 30 mins; which is still a world record for me lol. We both come from different corners of the country, but we have very similar mindsets especially when it comes to creating music. The challenge in our collaboration is usually the male vs. female perspective. Everyone in our camp aside from our manager is a guy. So making sure I’m representing the feminine perspective in the most powerful respectful way is very important for me.
A : The best part about this was mashing up all of our favorite flavors and coming out with a project that makes so much sense. The only challenging thing was Nonso shitting on so many of the food spots in LA that I ordered for us/took him to hahaha
What places on your upcoming Europe and UK tour are you most curious about?
Nonso Amadi : Well, aside from the UK there are not many places in Europe that I’ve been to. So, I am most excited about going to the cities outside the UK and seeing what those places are like. For many years, I’ve seen that some of my listeners are based in these European cities, so it would be great to check them out and perform music in the new country.
What simple things make you happy?
V : Hot tea, eating good food with my man while watching tv, djing for my dog & bunny rabbit are some of the simple things that mean the absolute most to me.
A : A flat white, extra hot. Like 185 degrees hot. I know the coffee friends are going to scorn me for this but there’s just nothing quite like it. Except maybe the perfect Ethiopian dark roast black coffee after a cold plunge. Maybe that’ll redeem some credibility for me with the snobs.
Nonso Amadi : Being healthy, family, friends, and peace of mind.
One thing people wouldn’t expect from you when they don’t know you so well?
V : I don’t think people realize how silly I am. I love love love to laugh & make people laugh.
A : I’m studying to be an NFL GM. No but seriously, I’m pretty decent at Poker. I love French House Music and I’m developing my own hot sauce brand. I know you asked for 1, but I’m (slightly) superstitious and deeply believe in the cycle of 3s.
Nonso Amadi : I produce a lot of my music myself, and people are shocked when they discover this. A lot of the songs I make are mostly produced by myself, or in collaboration with another producer.
Best life advice and given by whom?
V : Something my best friend always tells me is to “Lead by example” .. even when you want to be petty, sometimes taking the higher road delivers you so much more peace.
A : Keep writing, keep living. One of my favorite artists said this. His debut album was also a big inspiration behind the name of the band.
Nonso Amadi : The best life advice I have heard is to “remember that you were a human being first before your musician, painter, lawyer doctor, and treat others with kindness and respect”. I think it’s easy for us to get caught up in our jobs and day-to-day life that we overlook our humanity, to get a leg up over someone else. I can’t remember who it was given by but I know it was a YouTube video so I will credit YouTube on this one.
Many thanks to the three of you for your time and much success with the release!