With lyricism that feels completely plotted out, a come-hither baritone voice to go along with it and an uplifting new single, it’s only a matter of time before females start crushing hard on J.Appiah. Like many other artists, the Hackney born singer-songwriter found his voice singing in the church. In fact, he’s journey to where he is now can be compared to the fable story of Santiago, a shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure in the best-selling novel The Alchemist. But following a recurring dream to pursuit his true calling, the boy sets off on a journey, with the anticipation of finding his destiny. ‘I Ain’t Rich… Yet’, might seem like an outlandish title for a debut single, but for J.Appiah, it represents the culmination of his own fortune. He emerges as an artist fully in possession of himself — and now, fittingly, he’s ready to show the world who he is. We recently caught up with the rising star to talk about his intimate relationship with his beloved guitar, washing former Chelsea and France footballer Florent Malouda’s car, and more.
You’ve had a busy few months. How are you acclimating to all the attention?
To be honest, I am a bit isolated from all of the attention because I am so focused on writing and performing. I am still in my musical bubble, but it’s only sometimes when I have a conversation with someone that everything really hits home with me.
Let’s start from the beginning—how did you get into music?
Music is something that I have always been involved with and growing up my brothers and sisters, and I were always in church. We went to a classically trained music school when we were kids and there we all learnt how to play instruments. It’s sort of a natural progression to where I am now.
How would you describe your music to someone who’s never heard it before?
It’s mainly based on a guitar with quite simplistic vocals. It’s soulful and at times it can be somewhat folky, too.
You’re latest single ‘I Ain’t Rich… Yet’ is a talking point. Many people are convinced that you’re singing about your hopes of being rich. Is that correct? What’s the concept behind the lyrics?
It is really about being successful. It’s not necessarily about being financially rich in terms of money, but however, you measure your richness, I guess it can speak to you. So, all in all, the song’s just more about obtaining some sort of success in life. I think the song is a lot wider instead of just having a religious message – there are loads of people with dreams and ambitions, so the lyrics speak to everyone. It wasn’t necessarily a song written for or targeted toward a certain faith. It was just more so a song about aspirations, and I think everyone regardless of their faith can relate to it.
What was your intention with ‘I Ain’t Rich… Yet’?
When I write I don’t necessarily to do so with the intention of conveying a certain message, it’s more about getting things off my chest. It just so happens that a lot of people share similar experiences so when I perform and get the responses that I get – it’s amazing.
How did the hook up come about with footballer Florent Malouda?
We met a little while ago and since then he has been a big fan of my music. He really believes in me as an artist. The idea of having him in the video was something we came up with while planning the video, and luckily, it all worked out perfectly well. I think he definitely added something really cool to the video. I’m really grateful for his support.
A rather luxury car is used as a prop in the video. Who does it belong to?
It’s actually Florent’s car. He loaned it to us for the day and managed to get a free carwash out of it.
A lot of people have been drawing the Ne-Yo comparisons. How do you feel about that?
When you’re a new artist people will always try and attach you to someone else, I think it just helps in identifying who you are. I am a big fan of Ne-Yo and I remember he’s first album where he was really cutting edge with his songwriting, so I definitely have no qualms with being compared to him. He is somebody who has inspired me over the years –I have no problems being compared to him.
Let’s say your flat caught on fire. What would save from your bedroom? And let’s assume you already had time to collect your iPhone, guitar, and bible.
I would probably go back and get my book, The Alchemist. It’s one of those books that I feel like I can’t really do without. Whenever I need a little bit of inspiration, I tend to read it, so I would definitely need it.
Is it true that you keep your guitar boxed in a closet?
No. My guitar stays on a guitar stand in my room.
What’s your relationship like? Has she got a name?
Her name is Grace. She’s named after my mum, and I take her out to do a lot of gigs with me. It’s a lonely world sometimes, and she is good company.
You can expect more new music before the end of the year. I’m always performing so more shows, more videos, and most importantly I’m looking forward to writing some new stuff.
J.Appiah releases ‘I Ain’t Rich Yet’ on July 7.