The Skinny On... AiiTee
With her debut record Love Don't Fall now shortlisted for the 2021 SAY Award, Emma Aikamhenze – aka AiiTee (pronounced 'Aye-T') – takes on our monthly Q&A
What’s your favourite place to visit?
My favourite place to visit is back home in Nigeria. The last time I was there was 2018, it was Christmas and it was amazing. The last time I'd been there before 2018 was 2006 [before I moved here], so going back was so nostalgic.
What’s your favourite colour?
It depends how I'm feeling, so if I'm feeling sad my favourite colour would be black, or like darker colours... so it's a different colour for different moods.
Who was your hero growing up?
Definitely Beyoncé and Destiny's Child. I just love the fierceness they brought to the stage whenever they were performing, and all their songs... I remember always singing along. You know when you're young, you just wear your mum's clothes and strut your stuff, that was literally it.
Whose work inspires you now?
I won't lie, I feel like the people who inspire me now are people that are local to me... like Bemz, Chef, Louis Seivwright, NOVA, seeing people like that come up is quite inspiring to me. LOTOS as well.
What’s your favourite meal to cook at home?
It'd have to be jollof rice, it's a Nigerian type of rice with a tomato paste. It's very popular, that's my favourite thing to cook and eat.
What three people would you invite to a dinner party?
Okay, so my dinner table would have Oprah Winfrey. I'd have Mark Zuckerberg, because I hope his knowledge would just come into me just by looking at him... and Beyoncé.
You recently released your new EP Better Days. What other releases are you looking forward to this year?
I've got some stuff I'm working on with Chef, but I'm not sure if that will be released this year... [I’m looking forward to hearing the new] Bemz EP, and I think Louis Seivwright has a new album – Wonderland – coming out as well and I can’t wait to hear it.
How have you stayed inspired over the past 18 months?
For me music is a therapeutic thing... So even lockdown [was a] better time to have the creative juices flowing... I think it was more a blessing than anything... I found that anybody that did anything, it blew in 2020... so being inspired wasn't very hard for me.
What book(s) would you read if you had to self-isolate?
When I was younger I had an obsession with Jacqueline Wilson, so I'd probably go back to Jacqueline Wilson and pick up Tracy Beaker or something from her series. I loved her.
Who’s the worst?
I would say, I am my own worst… because I have my own bad sides... I like to look inwardly, rather than pinpoint what someone else is doing wrong, so it's better for me to say, "Oh, I am my own worst at this", "I am my own worst of that."
When did you last cry?
I feel like I'm very numb to situations... a lot of Nigerians I've found are like this because no-one really cares about your emotions... I definitely do cry but I couldn't pinpoint the last time... It's definitely a bad thing because I think it's very important to express your emotions rather than suppress them... That's why my music is therapeutic to me, because it speaks where I don't.
What are you most scared of?
I think regret is my biggest fear, because I feel like as a Nigerian there's a lot of educational pressures, because music isn't really seen as a career [there, it's more] like a hobby. So the biggest fear would be following what others are telling you to do, and living for others, rather than pursuing the direction that you want to go in.
When did you last vomit?
Wow. Do you know what's crazy? I haven't been to a GP since I moved to this country... It's so weird! Have I vomited...? Probably when I was in Nigeria, before 2006.
Tell us a secret?
Is the secret going to be a secret when I tell the secret?
Which celebrity could you take in a fight?
I weigh 58kg, there's no way I'm taking anybody in a fight. I am the one that will be running from the fight.
If you could be reincarnated as an animal which animal would it be?
I would be a cheetah or a lion because they're very fierce... they just look very like they're constantly modelling... they're always photo-ready.
You’ve just been longlisted for the 2021 SAY Award for Love Don't Fall. Congratulations! How are you feeling?
It's crazy! This is music I wrote from the comfort of my home and released thinking some people might like it... I didn't expect it to be on the Scottish Album of the Year Award longlist! It's definitely an amazing feeling!
In celebration of ten years of The SAY Award, what's your favourite ever single from a Scottish artist?
I have a joint first place. I feel like these are two iconic [songs]... The Proclaimers' I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)... and Sweet Dreams by Annie Lennox [and Eurythmics].
AiiTee's new EP Better Days is out now
Love Don't Fall is shortlisted for the 2021 SAY Award; the winner of this year's award will be announced at The Usher Hall, Edinburgh, 23 Oct