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Music Interview

Loick Essien interview: 'Debut album Identity is a bold move'

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Loick Essien
Here at Digital Spy we love a success story, and Loick Essien's has easily been one of the best of the year.

After a pair of guest spots on tracks by musical peers N-Dubz and Chipmunk, his debut single proper 'How We Roll' stormed the charts at number two and spent a further eight weeks in the Top 40.

Armed with his new single 'Me Without You' and a kitten's whisker away from finishing his debut set Identity, we called him up to find out how he's handling his sudden rise to fame.

What's your week been like so far?
"Pretty mad actually! I've been playing lots of freshers gigs at universities - the crowds have been amazing. I was performing in Newcastle last night and afterwards we met up with Tinchy Stryder, Bradley from S Club 7 and the Geordie Shore lot. Today I've been stuck on the tour bus for three or four hours."

Are you pleased with the initial reaction to your new single 'Me Without You'?
"I'm really, really pleased with the reaction so far. Obviously it's quite a different style from 'How We Roll', and there aren't many males putting out ballads at the moment. I was quite anxious before we put it to radio."

People seemed surprised at the success of 'How We Roll', particularly because it's so hard for new artists to break through. Were you just as surprised?
"Definitely very shocked, although my whole team had put in a lot of work into making sure everyone was getting to hear it. There were long, long promo days so I felt like the work had been put in - I'm just glad the public responded so well!"

You're a relatively new artist releasing in the busy Christmas period; are you nervous?
"A little bit! Not a lot of people are doing ballads at the moment so I feel like I've made a bit of a bold move with this song and my album. It'll be interesting to see if people get on board."

Are you hoping for another top five?
"It would be nice to grab the top spot but I plan on having a long career, so even if I don't get it now there will hopefully be plenty more chances! There's no rush."

Does The X Factor's effect on the charts at this time of year bother you?
"Not really - I'll just avoid releasing whenever they've got something big out [laughs]! I'm kidding obviously, but it's a machine that is very, very difficult to compete with. There's no drama over it; a bit of forward planning and careful scheduling and hopefully all will be fine."

You have a very loyal fanbase; what's the craziest thing a fan has done for you?
"I was on a radio tour for my last single and a girl came all the way from Glasgow. We were on the other side of the country, and she travelled just to bring me cookie dough ice cream and a letter. I didn't think she was crazy, but the gesture was mad in a good way!"

Loick Essien


The last time you spoke to us you were still working on your debut album Identity; is it finished yet?
"I've only got the title track to finish off with producer TMS, which will be done in a couple of days. Recording-wise, that's it - it's only the mixing, mastering and tracklisting to finalise after that."

It sounds quite unusual to record the title track last...
"Yeah, it is a bit strange! I wanted to do this one last as it sums up my feelings about the whole album. If I recorded the title track at any other point then I'd be in danger of losing my way on the rest of the tracks. Saving this one until the end made sure the album was relevant and kept me on the right track."

Do you have any favourites on the record yet?
"There's a track I love called 'Ayo' and I'm really excited about the next single, which I can't reveal just yet. It's the song leading into the album and I believe it's the best single of the lot - I've definitely saved the best until last! After that I'm going to let the fans choose what should be released."

You were once working with Labrinth on the LP; have those tracks made the final cut?
"The Labrinth tracks are definitely still on there. Hopefully I'll be doing something for his album too, but his deadline is tight so he might run out of time. I've also collaborated with a US artist on the album which was exciting. My lips are sealed for now as I want the fans to have some surprises!"

There's a lot of competition out in your genre; how do make yourself stand out?
"I don't think it gets as competitive as people think. Obviously it does a bit when you're releasing stuff the same week, but we're all mates and we like chilling out and talking about music. We're all keen to bring out good music and keep the scene fresh and exciting. Everyone wants to be the best, which I think is a healthy sort of competition."

What are you up to after this interview?
"I'm looking forward to jumping on my bed - hopefully it doesn't break - and getting some sleep after all these freshers shows. I'm knackered, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't love it!"

Loick Essien releases 'Me Without You' on November 7. Watch the official music video below:

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