Mad About: Akemi Fox
17 Aug 2022
Akmei Fox is the soul-grabbing newcomer feeding your Alt-R&B obsession.
Breaking onto the scene with her first EP Colour You In, dressed in rich melodies and effortlessly catchy lyricism, showcasing her star power from the very start of her musical journey.
Since releasing highly anticipated sophomore EP, Your Favourite Day, I caught up with the Manchester based starlet about being a part of the “DIY generation”, the blooming music scene up north and the ins and outs of her recent project.
When did you start making music? When did you know this was what you wanted to do?
I’ve always been into songwriting. I used to sing when I was young while my mum blow dried my hair, I’d belt out songs thinking she couldn’t hear me.
I kept a diary through my teens which helped with my songwriting and I’d post singing videos to Instagram. They weren’t the best but they made me happy at the time and that’s how I developed my sound, what worked and what didn’t.
I lost my love for posting videos for a couple of years though but during my gap year I met my producer Teo and we started making music together. It made sense, it was fun to do so I thought maybe this is my calling, so that’s when things really started.
What pushed you to have a break from music?
I think I had other interests, I’ve always been a creative person and I always used to say I want to be a triple threat, actor, dancer and singer.
I went to college and did drama, English lit and photography, very creative stuff and I thought I’d do drama at uni but I knew that wasn’t what I wanted to do.
I tried a lot of things so by the time I revisited music I was more sure that this was what I wanted to do. I learned how to do everything then.
You team up with Teo on a lot of your tracks, what is that working relationship like?
It would always be me and Teo or me, Teo and someone else, we have a great working relationship.
When you get used to a person and feel comfortable around someone, you create some of your best work.
I can chat about anything to anyone but when it comes to music I feel like things are a bit more personal so it can take me some time to warm to people so it’s nice to have someone there that can get the best out of you.
It’s been said that you’re part of the DIY generation, what is your typical creative process?
Teo and I used to use a bedroom studio and we still sometimes do, it was very much just a mic setup, nothing fancy. We’d make a beat together, vibe to it and we’d see what came to me.
Sometimes I don’t like the studio, it can feel a bit forced for me, I like to be in a chill and comfortable environment. I keep a collection of ideas that I’ve had through the day, maybe on the bus or before bed and pick out what I can use.
I like to harmonise in a bedroom, it’s chill, no one’s looking at you, there’s no pressure.
So the work from home setting we were limited to during the pandemic helped you thrive?
Yeah, it wasn’t great at first since I couldn’t go out and get inspiration but I finished my first ep during Covid, so it is possible and in a way, that in itself inspired me. It made me open up and see what could work now, like past lyrics or something. It was an interesting time, we couldn’t do many live shows so it was all about making the music.
Would you say the Manchester music scene is growing and do you feel pride in that?
I’ve been in Manchester forever and went to uni in Leeds. I love Manchester but go to London for work now that I’m doing music full time. I go back and forth with it.
The music scene might be smaller but it’s easier to network and meet other artists at other events and things like that, you can easily ask for advice, people are always happy to help, it’s a great place to come from.
Manchester has a really nice soul and R&B sound. There’s loads of different sounds and music here, artists like Children of Zeus and KSR have really put us on the map. I love their music.
It’s an exciting place to be and there’s even more artists to come out of Manchester so everyone needs to watch out, there’s good music on the way.
What do you like about the alt-r&b genre?
I’ve always been a lover of chill music, 90s and 00s R&B, that’s what I grew up on. Artists like Erykah Badu, Jill scott, Amy Winehouse, they’re big inspirations in the alt-r&b scene for me.
Would you be open to experimenting with different genres?
I’m quite set in my ways with alt-R&B, but I’d go a bit more indie I think.
I guess, my single I Want It has an Afrobeat feel with the drums so I’d like to delve into that more. It reminds me of summer, it makes me feel happy. I’m open to anything, maybe even something a bit more dancey.
What can we expect from the EP? Will you be trying anything new?
I’m excited for this one, it’s got more Lemon Tea vibes in there. The theme of it is summer and being in love. It can be platonic or romantic love, in my case it’s a love letter to my boyfriend. It’ll make you want to sunbathe and just chill on a day like today.
What have you learned between your first EP and now?
A lot really, for my first EP things were really new, I was unsure about music and trying to find my feet but now, music is my full time job, it’s like my whole life right now.
It’s been fun messing around with new sounds but it can also be a bit stressful but i’m grateful that it is my full time job right now
What was the inspiration for I Want It?
It’s about that situation when the people you came with want to leave the party but you want to stay the whole night, dance and vibe together. It’s simple, not as deep as my other songs, just about waiting to be free and dance the night away with the person you’re feeling.
Any dream collaborations?
It would be nice to do something with a rapper, chill vibes, maybe someone like Loyle Carner. Anyone I could vibe with, you’d be surprised with who you could connect with. I saw SZA at Finsbury Park Wireless so it would be cool to team up with the R&B girlies, it was such a good vibe.
If Kaytranada came to me and said let’s make a song – yeah that would be amazing. I’m open to anything, you never know what you can create.
What do you think is missing from the music industry that you can give?
Nice vibes are something you can get lost in. I like feeling nostalgia when I listen to music so I’d love to make other people feel that, even if it’s just one person.
Someone messaged me recently and told me someone fell in love listening to my song Lemon Tea and that made me want to cry. It was the cutest thing I’ve ever heard. So hopefully I can make more songs that people can relate to.
Akemi will headline her debut shows in London and Manchester in October 2022. Grab your tickets here.