Music

Earlwin, a rising musician starts year on right chord

EARLWIN1

Singer, songwriter, producer, Emmanuel Opanga whose stage name is Earlwin. PHOTO | POOL

Summary

  • The year has just started but a young musician has signalled his ambition to make 2022 a defining moment for his performing career with the release of his sophomore album.
  • Earlwin (Emmanuel Opanga), 24, represents what today’s contemporary artist is all about: free, unrestrained, adventurous, and outspoken.
  • His second album “Tiger & Lioness” was released on January 7 and symbolises what the artist describes as his ‘red’ character, a ‘coming of age’.

The year has just started but a young musician has signalled his ambition to make 2022 a defining moment for his performing career with the release of his sophomore album.

Earlwin (Emmanuel Opanga), 24, represents what today’s contemporary artist is all about: free, unrestrained, adventurous, and outspoken.

His second album “Tiger & Lioness” was released on January 7 and symbolises what the artist describes as his ‘red’ character, a ‘coming of age’.

“This album is about ambition, energy, the music is colder than my debut, and a lot more aggressive,” he says.

Earlwin, who graduated from the University with Nairobi last December with a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce, is not just a musician, but also a writer, blogger, and visual artist. He says his music cannot be separated from the rest of his creativity, therefore his songs are based on his writings and reflect broader themes of life.

“My blog is a notebook of all my creative work, and I have also designed the cover artwork for both my albums,” says Earlwin. His first album ‘Park Bench’ was released in 2018 at a time when he was still an ‘Internet artist’ and struggling to find his feet in the music business. The music was all produced on computer software while the songs were melancholic and ‘pink’ to reflect vulnerability, heartbreak and the melodrama surrounding teenage life.

Song “Nairobi”

As raw as it was, that first album earned Earlwin attention from different quarters in the music industry. The work on the second album was born from conversations with producer Wanyoike Kimani who was struck by the unique style of “Park Bench” and messaged him on Facebook with a proposal to work together.

“I had created some instrumentals for new music, but the producer also gave me some of his work to check out and so we settled on an arrangement where he produced five of the songs on the album and I produced the other four.”

The recording of tracks for the album was completed in March 2020, the weekend before the first lockdown was announced.

While the song “Nairobi” is the centre piece of the album complete with a music video released in December 2021, Earlwin feels connected to the “Lioness Reprise” and the upbeat, funky “Nobody Knows” which is an affirmation of his current status an artist who has now taken control of the direction of his career.

He was surprised by the audience’s reaction when he performed “Kakamega” during the Oktoberfest last year.

“This beat is my vision of a futuristic traditional Western Kenya song, from say the year 3,000, I am purely rapping and the crowd was jumping and ecstatic when I performed it so you just never know the type of vibe that the audience connects with,” he says.

The album also marks his first project after signing a management deal with AfricaCentric Entertainment that is headed by Marek Fuchs, former manager of Sauti Sol.

“I am now able to have a structure for marketing and promotion and to communicate my vision clearly to the management team.”

Earlwin, the firstborn among three siblings was named by combining two names “Early” and “Winner.” He attended primary school in Kakamega and then joined Starehe Boys Centre in Nairobi where he played the tenor saxophone in the famous school band.

“I was first introduced to the piano, and works of classical composers like Beethoven and thanks to the Internet, I have been exposed to every type of music from around the world so it is impossible to box me into a specific category or genre,” he says.

“My music is an expression of emotions and that can fit into the genre that I best feel at that given time. I sing, I rap, play instruments.”

He wants his music to build a world that people can escape to and so spares no effort in time and detail. “I am a contemporary guy who misses the sophistication of the 70s and 80s when artists like Michael Jackson made albums of just nine songs but each one of the songs is still timeless.”