IBG Interview – 8 Questions With… Folarin & Keziah

Folarin & Keziah

Music is known to draw people together. This power can be enhanced when two people who are in love create music together. Such seems to be the case with our recent find Folarin & Keziah. The married duo has brought their own version of gospel music to the masses.

We had a chance to chat with the couple about how this all happened and where they go from here. Enjoy the interview:

What first drew Folarin & Keziah to create music together?

We had both been involved with music prior to meeting each other and this was a mutual point of interest for both of us. After we got married it was a very natural and organic migration from creating music individually to creating music together. We found that our style and music making processes complement each other so it was very easy to make that transition and create music together.

How would you describe your sound?

We would describe our sound as a fusion of contemporary and traditional gospel music, sort of like a bridge between ancient and modern Gospel/Christian music. Our sound has also been influenced by our background being of African origin and our experiences having lived in three continents of the world. However, we are striving to create a sound that transcends colors, cultures and creeds were the listener is drawn in by the power of the message and the way it is uniquely delivered.

Which artists have had the biggest influence on you?

We both grew up in the church so our influences are wide and diverse. We both have a deep Christian heritage so our music influences have been largely gospel/Christian artistes. Although, we have also had influences from artists that are more mainstream.

Folarin: I grew up in the church listening to and singing songs by old time favorites like Andrea Crouch, Richard Smallwood, Commissioned, Beebe and Cece, The Winans, John P. Kee and Ron Kenoly. I also loved the vocal prowess of artists like Donnie McClurkin, Boyz II Men and Brian McKnight. However, my style has been most influenced by Fred Hammond and Israel Houghton. Lately, I have come to appreciate the simplicity of writing easy listening worship songs from Jesus culture, Bethel Music and Hillsong United.

Keziah: I grew up listening and learning from the likes of Shirley Ceasar, Cece Winans, Yolanda Adams, Karen Clark Sheard and Whitney Houston. These amazing women represented the strength, grace and musical dynamism that I was striving for. Recently I have been influenced by the likes of Tasha Cobbs Leonard, Steffany Gretzinger, Maranda Curtis and Ntokozo Mbambo

How does a song come together for Folarin & Keziah? What is your songwriting process?

Our songwriting is very dynamic. Sometimes we write together but most times we start writing separately and then come together to make the song to a whole. Typically, we often start with a voice note, proceed to getting a key on the keyboard and then build up from there. We’ve written songs in less than 2 hours and some have taken a few months to come together. 

Keziah: The song “You Deserve” came to me during my morning devotion. It started with a tune that I kept humming and proceeded to record on the voice note on my phone. I shared it with Folarin later in the day and he added the bridge while I framed the verses.

Folarin: “You are my God” was inspired while I was on trip in Colorado and driving past the mountains to the airport. The mountains looked so beautiful and strong which represents some of the attributes of God. I completed the song on the plane and Keziah added a few tweaks on the vamp after she heard the song. However, “Jesus Is alive” came together from a couple of choruses that I wrote a while back. I knew they fitted together but did not know how to how or where to make the link. So we both worked on a chorus and pre-chorus which made it easy to sync the pieces together.

We usually try the songs on a praise and worship set when invited to churches or concerts. We constantly gauge the ebbs and flow of the songs and the audience’s engagement and response. This influences our decision as to what part of the song we decide to record in the studio and what we reserve for stage performance.

Your latest single ‘Jesus Is Alive’ has started to get some attention. Tell us about how the song came to be?

We were looking to write an upbeat song that was very declarative of one of the pivotal points of our Christian beliefs. Jesus is Alive came purely by inspiration from God. The words and melody for the verse and chorus came to first to Folarin. Together we started working on the song in terms of the bridge and vamp framed it into what you now hear as “Jesus is Alive”. The beat and chords came together while preparing for a worship event in our local church. As we mentioned earlier, we have tried this song so many times at the different events we have ministered in and the reception has been beyond amazing. The room gets loud and people just lost and let go with dancing, jumping, singing and all the things that radiate pure joy.

What do you hope that a listener takes away from your music?

Our message is centered in our Christian Faith in God. Our music is an expression of God’s character and our response to the hope, grace, joy and peace we found in Him. We hope the listeners’ senses our devotion to God, our adoration of him and his ever-available invitation for everyone to experience life and eternity with Him. The world needs hope and we ask that people try the God we sing about if they still feel empty after trying everything else. There is a God-sized void in everyone that only God can fill. 

Give us some advice for other artists pursuing their passion?

In the little time we‘ve been in the industry these are the things that have worked for us? You need a strong support system so work on having a good team. Be very clear on what you are called to do and what your focus is. It is very easy to be moved by opinions, trends, numbers and industry matrices. Be diligent in service of your gift, work hard at it, strive to learn more, be open to advice from trusted people and do not be in a hurry to make it big. Always know that your gift will make a way for you but your consistency will keep the way open.  Work very hard on your craft and continue learning to develop your skills; songwriting, producing, performing. Also, learn more about the business side of music. Most importantly, stretch yourself by working on writing music that makes you uncomfortable in terms of style, genre and beats so you can reach new fans. 

What does the future hold for Folarin & Keziah?

This has been a dream come true for us. We have released 4 singles and finishing our first studio album towards the end of 2019. All under our Independent Music label, God Colors Media. We have recorded quite a few songs in the last 3 years and we would continue to work on releasing more music as we improve our sound and cultivate our brand. We plan to go on the road in Canada after our debut album is released and get to meet all our supporters. We would definitely seek opportunities to get on stage in the US, Europe, Asia and Africa. For anyone reading this, we hope to be in a city near you soon.