Cover photo by London photographer Austeja Gudziunaite
At home performances connect us with extraordinary musicians in a new, intimate way
The second performance in a music series called Routes of Inspiration – Inside created by Vype, which features live music performances with up-and-coming musicians, the incredibly talented, generous and inspirational Okiem streamed live from his home with music chosen to inspire, relax and lift spirits.
In describing his sound, Okiem writes “As a genre I like to call it ‘cinematic classical’. The dominant instrument is the piano and I combine orchestral instruments and synthesizers to create my sound.”
Staying inside the same place every day makes it hard to find inspiration – so each performance of this series begins with an intimate conversation where viewers hear directly from the artists where they find inspiration in times of isolation.
Artists will be playing songs of resilience and hope live on the Vype instagram page – part of a mission to bring adult consumers around the world together with a little inspiration.
Inspiring songs of comfort and togetherness
Okiem began his live performance by how he grew up listening to hip hop and despite wanting to be a rapper, playing classical piano just felt ‘right’. Photography inspires him. He begins the writing process by browsing books with the world’s greatest photography – it’s the emotion captured in extraordinary images that inspires his music.
The live performance began with the title song from his latest album, Xiro. His second piece, Mercy was chosen to help people relax and be calm in these anxious times. He even encouraged the audience, which joined from around the world and included Scottish band The Fratellis, to close their eyes while he played. He moved over to his piano to play a few popular songs and take some requests including Coldplay, Adele and Elvis Presley’s I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You. He finished his performance with his original song Fifty Horses.
An inspirational career
Okiem keeps his journey relatable to his fans by sharing both his highs and lows. From playing for Alicia Keys (twice) and husband Swizz Beatz to the disappointment of cancelling a performance at the Dubai Opera House for the Crown Prince after month of preparation due to the Coronavirus. Though he remains optimistic that the show will eventually go on.
Back in January 2019, Okiem auditioned for Britain’s Got Talent in an experience that had its share of ups and downs. There were big sound issues and three of the judges said they couldn’t hear the violins. Despite getting three YES’s and a standing ovation from the crowd, Simon Cowell went beast mode and said for him “it was torture” and in the end it wasn’t enough to get to the live shows. Yet despite this setback, Okiem as always remains inspirational:
“It taught me more than anything to have the courage to always follow your gut and your instincts. I went with a song of mine that I didn’t feel was ‘the one’ so when it went wrong, that was my only regret. Our instincts are STRONG – let’s not forget that.”
Other highlights include performing at Wembley Stadium, playing with the openers for Prince and John Legend and for tens of thousands of people at festivals with Tinie Tempah and composing his own music and playing it for fans at an East London venue.
In an interview with Sarah Lichtenstein Okiem shares much more of what keeps him ticking and his inspirations and goals for the future. Included is his tips for aspiring musicians:
- Practice regularly & consistently
- Listen to more genres of music
- Record yourself, listen back and analyse your own playing
- Continually learn new music
- Perform live as much as possible
- Teach others – you learn when you teach
- Decide what you want from your music career and go after it
We look forward from what is to come from this amazing pianist and composer. To stay up-to-date with Okiem, check out his website.
Stay tuned for the third instalment of the series on Sunday April 5th where Kiesza will be live on the Vype Worldwide Instagram page. For more information on Vype visit govype.com