Musically talented, down-to-earth and real are the words that come to mind when describing Four Kornerz. The multi-award winning, soul, funk and hip-hop-singing siblings are back after a brief hiatus with a new single and upcoming concert. Flavour’s Evelyn Otokito caught up with lead vocalist Deji to see what the brothers have in store.
In four words could you describe what Four Kornerz epitomize?
Ecclectic – Our music has several influences ranging from Jazz, Hip Hop, Funk, Soul, Electro and Gospel. Also, being four siblings with big personalities, we all have strong musical tastes and the Four Kornerz’ sound brings those four tastes to the table. Tj (Keyboards) is very much into his pop electro sound, Vidal (Drum) is an Afrobeat and Jazz aficionado ( He toured for a while with BBC Jazz award artist Dennis Bad Boy Rollins and Nigerian Jazz Saxophonist Mike Aremu). Daniel (Lead Vocals 2) is very much into his RnB, Gospel and hip-hop and I sort of make up the gaps with Funk, Soul and pretty much anything.
Exciting – When you come to a Four Kornerz Show, you better be ready to dance and sweat like its your birthday!
Message – Our music has always been about delivering a message. Even if its something as simple as “Enjoy yourself”, “Dance” or deep topics like “Racism”, we always want people to take something away when they hear our music. When I write songs, I always remind myself that I’m trying to write the sound track to people’s lives. We’re all different in many ways, but we all have interactions when it comes to music; everyone sings “happy birthday”, no one can deny they’ve danced to “Celebration” by Cool & The Gang.
African - Its in our blood and our soul and it always finds a way to come out in our music.
As you can see I talk a lot so feel free to tell me to shut up any time, ha, ha.
Its fine, as the advert say's 'Its good to talk'. So how do you combine your time as an artist whilst helping out with your parent’s ministry now and again?
I guess I’m just a good boy (laughs). Well to be honest it’s not a problem at all, I’m always happy to help out with whatever needs doing. My musical talent is a product of people invested in me when I was a young boy in our local church back in Nigeria, so I never shy away from an opportunity to speak with the young guys wherever the forum presents itself. I think our talent should be for the benefit of others, so if by me speaking to the youth or helping with carting instruments etc helps someone else in their faith or in their walk in life, then that’s a win win for me.
What was it like performing to a crowd of over 25’000 people at the O2 Music Wireless Festival, after winning the London Tonight Talent search competition?
That was epic! We had entered the ITV competition just around the time our album was due to be to released so we were really riding on the crest of excitement at the time. Thankfully we are used to performing in front of large crowds, so the idea of going in front of the 02 Wireless crowd was not that scary. We were on the Nokia stage which was just near the main stage so or worry was being upstaged by the main act and having no one come watch us, but by the third song I realised we had drawn a capacity crowd and they were rocking with us! That was a real triumph for us; that people were willing to come see us than watch the big name headline act on stage.
After the release of the group’s debut album soulectric, you received a numerous amount of awards as well as being nominated for a M.O.B.O. Is it difficult to keep your feet on the ground?
(Laughs) No way, you have to take it all in your stride. I’ve always been very clear on what real success is for me and the boys. To us, it’s being able to get our music to places all over the world, that’s why the band is called Four Kornerz, to reach the four corners of the world with our music. Accolades and awards are a by product. Besides, we’ve always been raised with good values and strong family ties, so accolades and adulation can’t really erode that. There’s a Nigerian Proverb dad used to drum into us when we were growing up “Son, always remember the home you come from”.
The music you produce is very inspirational. How has your faith helped inspire what you bring to the world?
Overwhelmingly! For me my faith is very central to who I am. It helps shape the way I speak, my conduct and how I treat others as well as the songs I write. At the start it was immediately clear that we couldn’t be a “gospel” band in the traditional sense. We wanted to be a good band of Christians that make and play good music. Once we were clear on the identity of the band, it freed us to concentrate on being a good band and letting our faith shape the way we produced the music.
I believe we all have a story to tell and as a songwriter, my songs are stories inspired by faith, my life, the things I’ve seen and the experiences I’ve had. I travelled a lot last year to do some photojournalism and I found that really inspiring and hopefully that has helped deepen the quality of my songwriting. We don’t write songs about girl’s booty shaking or bling bling, but whatever we write won’t be at odds with our faith.
Gospel fans across the UK I’m sure are excited about your forthcoming concert on April 27th in London. What can fans expect?
I’m excited about the upcoming gig! It’s going to be a showcase of some of London’s best talent and we’ve been telling everyone to bring their Air Guitars, ear plugs and dancing shoes! We’ll be showcasing a load of new songs as well as releasing our new single Superstar with a digital graphic book and we’ll be giving away a free song to everyone that comes to the gig! You know it’s going to be crazy! I can’t wait.
As well as the concert, the group will also be releasing the new single Superstar. Tell us more about how the song came about and the inspiration behind the lyrics.
It’s a song that just says celebrate yourself! I know its probably goes against the grain of popular thinking, especially in British culture which can be very self deprecating, but I just think sometimes we should take a minute to see how awesome we are. Its not an arrogance mantra, its just that we’re quick to put celebrities on a pedestal, when in reality the real accolades should be given to the single mum who raised her sons right, or to the girl who still manages to keep it together in spite of her insecurities and challenges. Real people!
One of the inspirations for the songs was a friend of mine who confided in me about her serious insecurities. She was really struggling with her self-esteem and life in general, it made me realise how much pressure we are all under to conform to an unrealistic image of perfection. Also, I remember my mother once jumped in front of a moving van to protect my brothers and I from an accident. She’ll always be a superstar in my eyes.
I’m the kind of person that’s often accused of being a bit of a dandy because of my deportment, but to be honest, I’ve just come to the conclusion that life is what you make it. It should be exciting and fun so if I wake up and feel like wearing my Sunday best to the park, so be it! I’ll wear it with a smile!
Where would you as a group like to be in five years time?
We’re working it out as we go along, when we started out we didn’t have a clue what we were doing or where were going we just wanted to play music. Simple! And along the way we released a multi award winning album, toured with some of the biggest names in the industry, been to several different countries and generally just had a blast! At the moment we’re all just getting back into the momentum of things and seeing how our new lives can fit around the music. TJ’s wife had a lovely baby boy (so the 5th Korner is officially been born. Vidal ‘s now married and so we’re not really sure what the next five years hold. We’re just going to enjoy the ride and keep making great music. The immediate goal is to release superstar on May 2nd, then hopefully get the video for the next single done and then, try to finish the album in time for late 2011. The internet has made it possible to connect better with audience so we will always be releasing music.
Last but not least what are the Top 5 tracks in your playlist?
Sorry I can’t give you 5! Ha ha you’ll have to look at the 10 or so songs on my play list to get a feel of what I’m about. Aside from listening to all the demo Four Kornerz songs, I still haven’t committed all the lyrics to memory,
I have quite a few songs on heavy rotation on my iphone:
Ella Fitzgerald – Sunshine of your love
Ezperenza Spalding – Chamber Music
The Roots – How I got over
Earth Wind & Fire - Serpentine Fire
Hillsong – Glory to the King
Vintage Trouble – Nobody Told Me
John Mayer – Slow Dancing in a Burning Room
Elton John – Tiny Dancer
Asa – Eye Adaba
I’ve always had a very wide musical pallet. As a kid I never really liked hiphop or RnB, I used to get really upset when my neighbours would come over to watch “Yo! MTV Raps” at my house. I would much rather be listening to Earth Wind and Fire, Elton John, Prince or Bjork. Now I just love music in whatever form I can get it!
Superstar will be available as a digital download release from Monday 2 May 2011. preview now on www.fourkornerz.com
“Four Kornerz live in Concert” is on Wednesday 27 April at 229 The Venue, 229 Great Portland Street, London W1W 5PN. Starts 7pm. Tickets £10 (+ booking fee) in advance, more on the door.
Words by Evelyn Otokito