My name is Gisèle and Renaissance EP for me, is the birth of a new beginning because of the trajectory of my career so far, this is something that I needed. It’s something new, something fresh and because of a lot of things that have happened, I just needed a new beginning.
The main reason for me is because the meaning of the word in French means ‘renewal’ or ‘rebirth’ so that is exactly what this is for me – the renewal and rebirth of my music career.
Historically, the time of renaissance was a time for revolution and a time for a new beginning which was a big thing for Art. So I did my research and found how Black women felt during that time and how they were viewed, so I also tried to incorporate that also into my cover art.
I’ve never liked to box myself into one genre because I like to make music that I like to listen to. So, I like listening to R&B, I like listening to Afrobeats and Afro Swing, and being of Congolese descent as well, I listen to a lot of Congolese music too.
With being able to speak French too, I tend to listen to the French Urban scene as well so it’s everything that I am influenced by, I’ve found a nice balanced mix for them all on the project. Being African, there is always going to be something that leans to that, so whether it be the beat or the lyrics, there is always going to be something in my music that takes you back to Africa.
With “Seasons”, it is the first song I recorded on the EP and coincidentally, the first track on the project and it was a pivotal song for me, which highlighted the change in my music career. I recorded it about a year ago and I was working with a producer called JRE.
At that time, he was the sole producer I was working with at that time, so every week, we’d just go to the studio where he said, “let’s create something, let’s see what we can do“. He’d either bring something he’s been working on to the table or we’d just create something there and then.
He’s also Congolese, so he understood my vision on incorporating particular elements of the sound in there, particularly the Jazz and Soul sides to the music. What I love about the song “Seasons”, to me, it’s a song that has a positive outlook on the negatives in life.
“Gangsta” I worked on with a producer who lives in Switzerland, NS, he reached out to me and was like “I’ve produced this track and I can hear you on it“. He literally told me what he wants it to be about, so he gave me the concept and later sent me a version of how he wanted it to sound, and said “just write to it based on this“.
I’ve worked with other writers in the past so I’ve had that experience, but this was different because he’s actually handed me the entire concept. I had to embody a character now which was not usually my style of songwriting but we made it work.
I reference Bonnie and Clyde in there, that kind of ride or die love but I reverse it a little to say in the track, “if you’re looking for love here, you’re not going to get it…” and it’s not really the angle the woman takes, so I liked embracing that which was really fun. The producer is French so it was really fun trying to adapt his French lyrics into English.
With “Higher”, I worked with another producer that I’d never met before – so IMPVLSE is a producer from Nigeria. IMPVLSE reached out to me and told me he had a few beats that he thought could work for me.
I wanted a track that was more upbeat which I love, I wanted something a little bit more “lit”. I included some Lingala in this track, I recently went back to Congo after ten years and it’s like a party everyday, so I wanted to really bring this sort of vibe in the song I’d written.
“Shoulda Been” was also produced by the same producer, IMPVLSE. I worked on that with the producer of “Gangsta” as I liked it, but I didn’t have any ideas of melodies and writing so I asked for some help on it.
We worked together on the melodies he created and I built on it a little more, and with his humming, I filled the gaps then expanded on the message a little more. This was like a power song to me, so think Jojo’s “Too Little Too Late” or Beyonce’s “Best Thing I Never Had”.
This is the final track I recorded on the project, “Savage” and I was very on the fence about having a fifth track on the EP. I didn’t know what the track was going to be but I didn’t want to end the track just like that. I worked on this track after I purchased the beat online by Jostopac, I wrote to it and loved that it was a little more upbeat especially where a few of the tracks were much more of a lower tempo.
This one was a really big reminder for me that you can do what you put your mind to do. I worked with a producer called Jay Vades, of Dr Vades, who encouraged me to name the track what it is today, also write a track that contrasts in the lyrics [laughs].
This project was really special to me because I really wanted it to come out on my Mum’s birthday, this in itself is something that was a part of my journey. I really wanted to commemorate her birthday in a positive way – it was a challenge, but it was definitely worth it.
Listen to my Renaissance EP below and stream it everywhere else here.