With her single, “Too Late 2 Cry,” out now, we took some time to hear more from TENNIN. Read below to learn more about TENNIN, the story behind her newest single, and what’s to come.
Hi TENNIN! Let’s start with how did you get your artist name?
Tennin is my second first name. It’s originally written Tening and is a name given by my father in honour of his Peulh-Senegalese roots. I kept TENNIN as my artist name because, in Japanese Buddhism, it also represents spiritual beings and celestial musicians. I thought it was a sign that I should be making music under the name of TENNIN.
What city are you from and where are you based now?
I am born in the southwest of France, in a city near Toulouse. I started my musical career while I was in Paris, but in 2020, then I went back to the south during COVID times. Since then, I am always on the road. I hate to be fixed in one place. Lately, I’ve been sharing my life between France, Germany and Portugal. My plan now is to stay in Berlin though - my favourite city in Europe.
At what point in your life did you decide to pursue a career in music? How did you get started?
Music has always been part of my life, but for years, I wouldn’t admit it. I would write and create in secret.
I was working for a music magazine as an editor and interviewer and realised it was not the right place for me. I was not on the right side of the camera. Working with this media has been the trigger. It made me publish my first demos online, and I saw people and media interested, so it encouraged me to continue.
Has your upbringing played a role in shaping who you are and defining your sound today? If so, how?
I grew up in a multicultural background and open-minded parents who love to travel and discover new cultures.
When I was a child, my father used to play a lot of African music (especially artists like Ismael Lo, Baba Maal, or Tiken Jah Fakoly), and I was amazed by the stories and poetry.
Also, my parents encouraged me to take violin lessons at the national music conservatory, as playing an instrument and learning music theory would teach me discipline and the ability to concentrate. I was about 8 years old, and it was my first contact with music.
The combination of its elements pushed me to be curious, open and eager to learn.
How would you describe your sound to readers who may not be familiar with you?
My music is a fusion between Pop and R’n’B and is a journey through my stories with love, pain, doubts and hope.
Do you have any hobbies outside of music? What do you do to stay creative?
I love to dance. I wish I had taken more dance lessons. I also like photography, travel, meeting new people, and hearing their stories.
All of this helps me stay creative, express myself freely and discover new horizons.
Who are some of your main musical influences?
As a teenager, I was addicted to Eminem and Hip-Hop in general, and this made me write my first lyrics. Also, when I would see Brandy’s video clip, this would make me dream about being her one day!
Ne of my revelation as I grew up was Trip Hop music, bands and artists like Massive Attack, Tricky, and Morcheeba, I think their music is so creative, and it rocked me with unexpected emotions.
I am inspired by all the music that touches me or resonated with a part of my life.
What are some of your future music career goals?
As an artist, I wish that my music reaches more and more people, so I can reach my goal to perform my sound on stage, to go on tours, and working with artists around the world.
Now onto your release, 'Too Late 2 Cry.' What inspired this song?
Last year, I was on tour with Dope Saint Jude as her backing vocalist. She produced a few tracks for me during that journey, and 'Too Late 2 Cry' is the first song that we ever worked on. 'Too Late 2 Cry' is about the emotional journey we face when we go from pain to hope, after realizing that a situation is not for us. It’s when we realize our lives will be better and happier out of this situation.
What is 'Too Late 2 Cry' about in your own words?
I wrote it when I realized that I had to leave certain situations and relationships. At first, I was struggling to face the truth, finding excuses for not leaving the situation. It takes time to realize that it takes a lot of mental energy from anger to pain or guilty feelings. But, one day, I woke up willing to be happy and to build a new life, so I had no choice, but to remove toxicity from my life. This decision allowed new possibilities and new events to happen. So, I wrote 'Too Late 2 Cry' as a new departure.
What is your favorite lyric in 'Too Late 2 Cry' and why?
'No I don’t feel sorry, now I don’t feel guilty when it’s too late to cry.'
It resumes all the song and the state of mind I was explaining earlier.
What message do you hope fans take away from your music and from 'Too Late 2 Cry?'
I just want to share my experience to send a message of hope. Happiness is possible. Past experiences or traumas don’t define the future.
I wish they can believe that having the courage to leave a hurting situation opens the doors to a new fulfilling life and everything we've dreamt of.
What’s one of your proudest moments of your music career so far?
When professionals or artists that I admire and that inspire me recognized my work at some point. I remember when Tricky contacted me in 2018. I couldn’t believe it.
Also, going on tour with Dope Saint Jude - having her trust and her support, and working with her made me more than proud and thankful. This new music and path wouldn’t have been possible without her. She saw things that I kept inside and had trouble getting out.
What would you say are the greatest lessons you’ve learned so far?
That to grow as an artist, creativity and talent are not enough. Curiosity and adaptability make the difference. You must be ready at all times to take on new challenges.
What’s next for you? Are you working on any upcoming projects, or do you have any upcoming shows that we should be on the lookout for?
'Too Late 2 Cry' is the first single of my EP, 'Recovery,' which will be out this summer.
Where can we follow you on social media?
Before you go, let's ask you something random. What advice would you say to your younger self?
'Work on your dreams like you are on a mission. There is a place for you in, and there is no way you let it to someone else. It’s going to be as hard as you are strong.'
Thank you for the great interview; wish you much continued success!
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