Performing Arts

Anto Neosoul’s big comeback


Radio presenter, TV host and musical performer, Anto Neosoul. PHOTO | POOL

After a seven-year hiatus, singer, songwriter and radio personality Anto Nesoul returns to the music scene with his second album, songs that tap into a range of emotions and experiences that have been a part of his journey.

The 10 songs, ranging from mid-tempo smooth grooves to adult contemporary ballads, are contained in the album titled ‘Welcome 2 My Soul” released across all streaming platforms last Friday 17 June.

“2 is a double entendre; my second album and an invitation to my innermost self as a performer,” he says.

“I have been working on this sophomore album since 2018 sharing voice notes, ideas, reworking lyrics, trying to get collaborations, adding instrumentalists, throwing out whole song ideas…all of which led to this moment,” he explains.

He bursts into a burst of typical uproarious laughter when we speak about his high-pitched singing voice. “My soprano has become my selling point. In fact, when some people hear my music, they wonder if it is really my voice or a collaboration with another singer.”

He proudly shows off his picture appearing as the image cover on the Made in Kenya playlist on Spotify after the release of the first two singles from the album “Deliver Me” and “Are You Ready”.

Deepest emotions

Anto created the album working solely with Dille, the same producer behind the song “Paid My Dues” from his debut album “Starborn”. “This album would have been released earlier in the year but the producer gave me the freedom to rework the songs to my satisfaction,” he says

“This is me at my most unpretentious, I am at home, completely comfortable expressing my deepest emotions,” says Anto.

“I have put my love and life experiences to create a body of work that shows off my vulnerability and lets you into my world,” he says. “This album expresses who I am: unapologetic, and unpretentious,” he adds

He says the album was inspired by the determination to ‘drag the spotlight to shine on me’ after feeling like circumstances in life were conspiring to deny him that opportunity.

“I have poured out my heart out so much that I don’t feel it bleed anymore. Instead, I create music for those who truly understand what I am,” says Anto.

The album is crafted as a love story starting with the upbeat pop sound of “Breaking News” with Anto playing the role of a bad boy warning a lady to keep away from loving him lest she gets hurt.

The idea of a storyline came about when all the songs had been recorded and then it occurred to him that there was a thread through the lyrics. “The story sequence became intentional after the fact when I was listening to the songs and they all seemed to make sense if arranged in a certain format,” he says

Jacaranda” with its mellow vibe was inspired by the tree whose purple leaves bloom across the country during the month of October creating a perfect setting for the romantic lyrics of the song. “A beautiful lady at a Jacaranda tree for your first date is not only stoic, but its also dramatic, melancholic just like the song,” he says

By the time the album gets to “Are You ready” the tables have been turned on the bad boy who is desperately trying to get the lady to respond to his messages after that first date.

The star guest on the album is the Grammy Award-winning instrumentalist Owuor Arunga who arranged and played trumpet on a few songs. The two established a friendship when Anto interviewed Arunga on a TV show and the New York-based musician eventually arranged the songs, “Nime” and “Breaking News”. “He was kind enough to record and produce the music while back in the US and just sent them over”

Greatest honour

Arunga’s trumpet is the highlight of the uplifting ‘Deliver Me” and Anto recalls being overwhelmed with emotion when he first heard how powerful the song sounded. “It is the greatest honour to work with Owuor but to have him lay his heart on this song has created a classic,” he says.

All the songs on the album are self-written by Anton Neosoul with the exception of “Are You Ready” on which he partnered with dancehall singer Zikki who is best remembered for his collaboration with Jamaican star Tarrus Riley. He is currently producing music videos for three songs: “Switch it Up”, “Nime” and “Breaking News

This second album has been a long time coming for Anto Neosoul, but his next project, which is produced by Nigerian artist Joe Pee, is already in the works with a possible release date before the turn of the year.