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Meet Jordan Adetunji, the Belfast sensation loved by Oli Sykes

Belfast boy Jordan Adetunji is already proving to be one of alt-rock's greatest hopes.

By Lee Campbell

Jordan Adetunji (Picture: Press)

It has been a whirlwind 12 months for Jordan Adetunji. The Belfast-born star was recently snapped up by RCA, after being spotted by none other than Bring Me the Horizon’s Oli Sykes.

But take one listen to his recent single ‘Go’ and you’ll realise why the rock stalwart has become an early devotee of Adetunji’s music. It’s a foray into the dreamy hyper-pop worlds that Bring Me hace flirted with in recent years, but the Belfast boy manages to inject it with a defiant spirit that is entirely his own.

“This song I wrote about defeating the odds and manifesting all the things people said I won’t do. The energy I wanted to give off was no matter how much your doubted you still go for it,” he recently said ‘Go’.

With more music and an exciting future in the offing, we caught up with Jordan to discuss the journey so far.

What was it like growing up in Belfast as an alternative musician?

When I was at school, everyone was supportive. I used to post rap videos on Facebook, then started adding other elements to it like guitar, because I am so influenced by people like Jimi Hendrix and post-punk bands like Joy Division. Finding out that people like guitarist Gary Moore went to my school, I got the excitement from knowing that and it gave me inspiration to keep doing my music the way I do it – keeping it alternative and constantly trying to push the mark.

At what age did you first know that you would go down the musical path?

Around 15 or 16. I played the trumpet at school. That got me into music before I started trying to experiment. What I found interesting was how the trumpet sounded on different songs. For example, we were going from classical to ‘Mission Impossible’ to ‘500 Miles’, so I’ve always tried to bring that element to my music. It sounds crazy, but I want some people to like my music and other people to think that it’s really weird enough not to like it.

Does being a Belfast boy come through in your music?

Definitely, especially through my videos. At the start, I was shooting a lot of them in Belfast. For example, ‘Woke Up’, I shot at an abandoned Belfast skate park. I still record in my room. I get better ideas in there sometimes.

You have mentioned Joy Division as an influence – how come?

I watched the ‘Control’ biopic (by Anton Corbin) about Ian Curtis. I remember looking at his life. He had epilepsy. The rawness of his lyrics just made me go and listen to Joy Division’s albums. I think it’s the basslines that really got me, the riffs that they had, but it wasn’t as if everything was perfect, that’s what I love about them. My favourite track is ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’, mainly due to the bassline.

Oli Sykes helped get you signed at RCA. How did he come across you as an artist? 

I was posting a lot on Tik-Tok. There’s a video that I posted of my song ‘Woke Up’. It’s a post-punk song with rap. It started getting some traction and Oli commented on it and said that it was really cool. I was like, “Wow!”. Then I didn’t hear much more about it until I posted another song of mine called ‘Insecure’. He commented again and said he was going to send it to a few peeps. I then got a phone call the day after that. It was a fantastic experience, getting to London and meeting everyone (from RCA). So, yeah, I’m here now.

If you were describing your music to someone who hadn’t listened before, how would you describe it?

Some songs that show the range of how my music goes are ‘Woke Up’, ‘Go’ and ‘You and I’. I added a lot of Math rock samples in there. I’m a big fan of that lately. Yeah, my music is a bit of everything – it’s alternative with some dance incorporated and a rocky edge to it.

Any dream collaborations?

I would love to collaborate with Oli (Sykes), Jaden Smith, WILLOW and people like that. They would be interesting collabs.

What’s your experience been like of being an alt/rock artist as a Person of Colour?

It’s been different. It’s been interesting. I went on tour with KennyHoopla, who’s another alternative artist like me and a Person of Colour. Just how more people are now more confident to step into that and express that vibe themselves. A lot of people just expect me to listen to hip-hop music. Belfast has really opened my mind to other styles of music. I love music as a whole.

You’ve spoken before about how your music draws from Nigerian and Afrobeat influences. How does it come through for you?

100%. I feel that through the Afro-beat dance patterns, it’s something that I want to incorporate. When I do release the full project of some sort, that side will definitely show up in the music. A lot of great Nigerian artists come from the Lagos area such as Burna Boy and Fela Kuti. Kuti is very iconic to me.

Any plans for an album?

Definitely, but I will start with an EP, later in the year, possibly October time.

What’s the biggest obstacles in music as a new artist?

Deciding which music I want to release, as I make so much music every day. Posting on Tik-Tok has helped with that, seeing what people react to. Whatever they like the best, I release.

Can it be intimidating being a single artist, with no other bandmates to share ideas with?

I do have a band that I play with live so they will always have some input. I always send them songs and they may put a guitar riff on it or piano. It’s been great fun.

Who is your biggest inspiration in your life?

In my life, my Mum. The way she does things and her style back in the day. She dressed really cool and expressed herself through art. My Dad was a big music lover. Growing up, I would have heard a lot of RnB. My Mum loved Michael Bolton and my Dad listened to a lot of hip-hop.

Any other passions in life outside of music?

I like playing video games and football. I love Anime and I am big into Japanese culture. I am a bit of a nerd when it comes to that. That’s where the artwork on my songs comes from. I try to make everything look like a scene from a Manga. I look for artists that have that sort of style and would message them, explaining or sketching out the idea that I am trying to portray and let them do the work to express that.