Funbi Wants To Reintroduce Himself

"I just felt like I was in a much better place mentally and I felt like I was ready to get back out there"

There is a moment from the cover shoot for his latest project, ‘Love Lust,’ that Funbi remembers because of how easily things could have all gone left. Someone was supposed to come in and provide creative direction for the beachside shoot, but they never showed up. It was a pivotal phase in getting ‘Love Lust’ ready for the singer who was making a return to music after a near-three-year hiatus. Rather than let that absence scupper the shoot, someone asked Funbi to take his shirt off and step into a bathtub that had been placed against a backdrop of the sea. “Funny enough, it came out good,” the singer tells me about the result of the shoot over Zoom one Tuesday afternoon in May. The result was, in fact, so good, it became the project’s cover. 

It’s instances like that – him forging ahead even with all the elements out of his control – that display Funbi’s passion for music and all that comes with it, after a period of intense personal loss and a long journey coming to terms with grief. A little over three years ago, the singer’s father passed away just as the world was grappling with the life-halting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was the darkest period of his life as he spent years trying to get over the loss. A return to music was tentatively on the cards when he released a single titled “my intentions,” in October 2021, but it didn’t feel right just yet, leading to a three-year hiatus. 

It’s no surprise that such a deeply personal loss could cause the singer to spiral. Anyone who has been listening to Funbi since he broke out as part of  The Collectiv3 can attest to the interiority of his music; the music he makes feels like an extension of him in many ways.  Luckily, the time away served its purpose of getting him back in a healthier headspace. “I just needed to really assess myself and get my mind state in that creative space again,” he says. “Life has just been carrying me on a rollercoaster.”

Much of Funbi’s new experiences are examined on his latest project, ‘Love Lust,’ a wondrous dispatch that subtly grieves relationships that never quite delivered on their early luster. “The whole idea of ‘Love Lust’ came from my own personal experience and me being in that position where I feel like there’s a line in between love and lust,” Funbi says. ‘Love Lust’ arrives six years after the singer’s first project, ‘Serenade’ and bears all the signs of the time it has taken to craft that follow-up as the singer reaches deeply into himself for stories that are both deeply personal and widely-resonant. 


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This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

NATIVE: You have a new project out, how does it feel to be getting back to making music again ?

Funbi: It’s been good, man. I feel like it took a while to get into the groove of it. I can’t lie, it’s been exciting and I’m glad to be back doing it. It’s been a while, so I’m just glad that the songs that I’ve kept in my laptop for a while can finally be heard by lots of people. 

Was there a moment when you knew that it was time to go again? 

So, I had the songs for a bit. [Then] last year around November or so, that’s when I decided that it was time to put this stuff out. There was some stuff behind the scenes that I needed to iron out, and so it was around that time that I was done sorting out everything and was like, “Yeah, it’s time for people to hear the music.” 

I’m curious about the songs that make up ‘Love Lust.’ What was it like putting it together, writing these songs, and what was the inspiration behind them?

To be honest, I went into the project with the mind of just trying to create something cohesive. We had musicians, instrumentalists, producers, writers, everybody. We came together and we started working on a couple of songs. Some of the songs didn’t make this project and some of the songs came from before that, but the whole idea of ‘Love Lust’ came from just my own personal experience and me being in that position where I feel like there’s a line in between love and lust. In my own experience, that’s what it has been. Sometimes, it feels like there’s something more in this relationship, but then, things get physical and I realize that it’s not that much there. And sometimes, things go from being physical to being more emotional, and I just felt like I wanted to express that and talk about that. That’s how the idea of ‘Love Lust’ came. 

How hard was it to be honest  on this record? How do you get these emotions into the songs? 

To be honest, I actually struggle with putting it into music sometimes, but I find that when I hear a beat, I try to put myself in the feeling of whatever it is that I’m trying to express. I just mentally try  to put myself in that feeling and I freestyle the melodies. Once I freestyle the melodies, I start to find words in those melodies and I build from there. That’s essentially how I’ve been doing my music from the beginning. [It’s] how I still do it now. Obviously, sometimes, there are writers that come in and I explain to them what I’m trying to express, but even when I hear the instrumentals and I freestyle the melodies, it’s almost like you know exactly what the song already feels like. So, it’s just about finding the right words to express that. 

The first time I heard about your music was about seven or eight years ago. I think it was Desire. How has your relationship with music evolved in that time? 

I think in a way, the music has become a bit more personal to me over time. I feel like it may even be subconscious. It’s not like I mentally was like, “Oh, yeah. Now, I want to be all personal.” It wasn’t anything like that. It’s just something that became more personal for me as I grew. Music became my life. It became what I am. Sonically, when I’m introduced to new settings, new environments, new producers and things like that, I feel like I discover a different side of my artistry. I can’t remember which year it was but there was this period where I worked a lot with Spax [the producer] and if you listen to the music that I had back in the day and the ones that I have now, there’s a difference. There’s a feeling that is different and that’s because my experiences, the producers, the environments that I’ve been in have influenced the music in that way. 

Let’s talk about your relationship with Spax. How did that come about? How did you guys start working so closely together?

So it’s crazy, right? I met Spax through SDC. I actually remember the exact day that that happened. It was the day I went to record my very first song with SDC called “BMW. Spax happened to be in the studio at that time. He wasn’t the one that produced that song though but he was there, and that’s how we met. And I think it was even LadiPoe that introduced Spax to all of us, and since then, we’ve just kind of bonded. We didn’t start creating anything at that time but as things went along, Spax kind of became someone that I could really bounce ideas off of and I feel like we work really well together. 

The last project you put out was ‘Serenade’ in 2018. There’s a six-year gap between ‘Serenade’ and ‘Love Lust.’ What happened in that time gap? 

After I released ‘Serenade’ in 2018, we promoted it for a bit, and around when COVID hit, I was trying to create and make more music, but then it was soon after that that I lost my dad. Everybody grieves differently, right? But it took me a lot longer to deal with that loss. I actually put out a song called “my intentions” in 2021 and I felt like I was ready, but in hindsight, I may not have been. I just needed to really assess myself and get my mind state in that creative space again. Life has just been carrying me on a rollercoaster. 


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The grief never leaves you, but how did you start to feel like you were ready again to deal with music after your dad’s passing? 

It took a lot of encouragement, mainly from people like Spax, actually. Spax became one of the people closest to me. 

So, the relationship evolved from just being music to bring a friendship?

Yeah. We would talk about a lot of different things; family, music, life, all of that. Also, it helped having family and friends around to motivate me. Even Poe [of SDC] became one of the people that I leaned on for motivation. They were really helpful at that time. I just felt like I was in a much better place mentally and I felt like I was ready to get back out there and start performing again because I actually missed performing. I missed performing on stage and things like that. It’s now time to get back in it.

You put out “Distance first on the album. What was the inspiration for that song? 

You know when you have this person that you are kicking it with? For me, I wasn’t ready to be in a committed relationship at the time. The whole idea of the song came from that: being in different spaces emotionally. One person is wanting more than the other is willing to give. That essentially was where the idea for “Distance” came. “Distance” was one of the songs that we created in camp. It was something that I could connect to very well because I’ve been in that situation before. We are not in the space emotionally but if I had a little bit more time, I might be there. 

I’m also curious about how you’ve felt about the project since it has been out. How have you found the reactions?

Everybody that has heard it loves it. I think one thing I pride myself on is making sure that the music sounds great and the product sounds great, and I feel like nobody has given me any negative comments about the project. Everybody loves the project and I’m just in awe because it’s been a while since I put out anything. There were some nerves. I was confident in the quality of the project, but still. 

Jitters always come just a moment before it goes out. 

Yeah. I’m just glad that people could resonate with it and actually enjoy the music. 

Something I’ve noticed throughout our chat is that your community has been a constant theme that you return to. Spax, SDC, everybody around you, family and all. How important have they been for you on this journey?

Community is huge, man. No man is an island. It helps a lot to have people around you that can support, and that has been what I’ve experienced over time. With SDC, it [started]  when I newly came into the industry and since then, they have been like brothers to me. It’s great to have a music family like that. 

Featured Image Credits/The NATIVE