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WPGM Commentary: Dan Onkar Wants To Feel Love And Happiness On His New EP ‘IRENE’

My name is Dan Onkar, I’m a singer-songwriter from North London. I make music routed in the afrobeat realm plus R&B and general pop sounds. I’ve made my fourth EP IRENE with influences from South African drums and R&B melodies tied in with Afro vibes around it.

The EP is a project about love and happiness, just generally having fun, especially in the current time that we live in. For me, I thought that it was important to make a project that reflected more how I wanted to feel, than how I felt maybe on most days due to the restrictions around.

To get into the tape, “Scandalous” is about meeting a person and you just know how ‘bad’ they are – bad in a way where we use the word ‘good’. It’s just so overwhelming that you can’t help but indulge in speaking to the person and getting to know what they’re about, but it’s mainly about having fun.

“Money Don’t Speak” is a little bit off script in terms of the theme, where I really delved into the South African house more, and here, I just played around with a lot of drums. “Money Don’t Speak” is the fact that money doesn’t actually speak, but people do whatever the money wants them to do, or they go wherever the money wants them to go.

For people like me, we don’t actually jump when the money says jump, so that’s what we tried to paint on that song. Benji really comes through for me on this one; I sent it to him, he sent it back to me really quickly and I really enjoyed his verse! We usually work together in the studio but this time around, we had to do everything over email which was a little different but it worked.

“Hold Me Down” is the last song I made for the project and is one of the songs I made in my bedroom but I didn’t think this one was going to be on the EP. I had a different song that I wanted to add to the project and I sent it to Nosa Apollo who said he loved it, but all we had to do was change the baseline.

Thereafter, it sounded like a brand new song and it really changed the way I wrote on it. The initial version was a lot more calm and mellow and so the new baseline just gave it a different life. So, “Hold Me Down” is about you finding your person and them being for you as much as you are for them. I really enjoy “Hold Me Down” because it’s been two different songs to me.

“Hands Up” was the first song that we made, we made it the day I handed in my last EP and so I was a little gutted because I just thought, “Oh my gosh, if I had made this a few days ago I could have handed this one in”.

This track was really me and Nosa going back and forth and playing with old school Nigerian melodies and more. So think things like old school Nigerian TV shows, and we just enjoyed making a groove really – I don’t even know what to call it.

It’s an “Afrobeats-meets-punk” variation, something like that (laughs), “Hands Up” is the tying together of everything – I’ve been trying to get through to this woman being Irene. And if she was to ask ten people what they would do for her, this track is me saying “Oh, don’t worry.. I’m the guy. I’m the one that’s gonna come through for you, regardless of all your experiences. This time is gonna be different”.

Over the years, my writing process has really changed. Before, I never used to produce. I’d usually just vibe with whoever I was working with. I haven’t really followed a structure in a while, I kind of just feel the vibe. As I haven’t put any music out this year, I just thought four songs would make up for it – but I have more music coming! IRENE for now is just simple and sweet.

Listen to my IRENE EP below and stream it everywhere else here.

Words by Dan Onkar // Follow him on Twitter + Instagram

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