#BNCreativesCorner: Anendlessocean is Embracing His Artistic Identity Beyond Gospel Music

#BNCreativesCorner: Anendlessocean is Embracing His Artistic Identity Beyond Gospel Music
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I am grateful for the gift that music is. To suspend time and let us sit still in its embrace, savouring every melody and string. In moments like this, the world stops for a while, anxiety is momentarily tucked in the brown earth, and I am awash with peace. This is what I experienced the first time I listened to ‘Gratitude’. It was the crack of dawn one Saturday and I had my headphone over my head as I jogged when Gratitude began to play. I paused a moment, then sat on a heap of gravels, taking the song in, my arms wrapped around my body. And for the first time in what seemed like a never-endless apathetic relationship with God, I muttered, “Thank you, Lord.” In that moment, I remembered His endless mercies and grace, and how far He had brought me. It is also what Anendlessocean (Alli Hakeem Ayobami) thought of when he wrote the song.  

As an artist, I’ve seen myself grow in the most organic way possible. I’ve seen myself impact people. I’ve met people who cried because of my music. And it just meant so much to me at the time. I was like, ‘Man, I’m so grateful to God for these experiences. Where I am as a human being, and as an artist’.

In 2016, Anendlessocean started chasing music, but it wasn’t until 2020 that his career kicked off.

I think from 2020, everything kicked off bit by bit. Everything started coming together. I did put out a couple of singles and then an EP in 2021. In 2022, I had another single titled “Nazarene”, which moved my career forward.

That was all the encouragement he needed, “From then, you know, I decided that, ‘yeah, this is what I’m going to do.’”

Music isn’t something Anendlessocean stumbled upon; he was born into and influenced by it.

I grew up with a lot of music around me. My pops is Muslim, my mom Christian and they both love music. My uncles and aunties and everyone loved music, so naturally, I grew up in a music-loving home. There’s also the part where I’ve been a Christian, and then a Muslim, but now I’m currently a Christian because I’ve given my life to Christ at the moment and forever. But there was a lot of upbringing in the church and its music, and those things shaped the person I am today.

Many musicians start from the church choir – finding themselves, discovering and nurturing their talent before they bless the world with it. And for someone who spent a large part of his childhood in a church, it isn’t surprising that faith plays a significant role in his music.

I’m putting out music as a Christian with Christian beliefs. So obviously there are things that also guide my beliefs and actions in life.

But contrary to what people think, singing about God does not make Anendlessocean a gospel musician. He is simply an artist who is Christian. He will not be boxed.

My last two singles are love songs, so I am not only doing gospel music. Obviously, there are beliefs that guide my being and actions, and there are principles that I live by, but there’s more to Anendlessocean. I’ve never put myself out there as a gospel artist or a minister. People definitely love to categorise because it helps them. You know, they want to say, ‘this guy is this, that guy is that.’ But that’s a human construct. I’m an artist and a songwriter. I’m going to express music in many ways – talk about love, talk about social or socioeconomic activities and whatever in a contextual way. So I do not want to be boxed and I’m not going to be boxed.

Anendlessocean’s music is an extension of who he is and this is reflected in the tranquility of his songs. From the lyrics to his videos, there’s a calmness that washes over you. It’s good vibes. It’s soothing.  for Anendlessocean, it is important that he is not seen through a single lens.

The music I put out is an extension of myself, something I’ve experienced, or something that I have an interest in. Or something I’ve heard and I feel. It would take a lot to see me outside of chill. So it is eventual that my music sounds that way, because this is who I am.

I don’t know if it’s going to change in the future, after all, the beauty of our existence is the fact that we can morph into many things, even down to what we create and what we do.

We can say music for Anendlessocean comes naturally, but the depth of his songs is a reflection of the process put into making them.  

The first thing I do is find isolation. I’m going to be alone, pick up my guitar and connect with a deeper form. I connect with what I feel in that particular moment. And I turn these feelings into words. Unless I’m in the studio, I’d be alone with my guitar, writing in my room, being aware of whatever situation it is that I’m writing about and embracing it.

I also have to decide whether the song is good enough to go to the studio. If yes, then boom, we go to the studio. Sometimes, it’s me asking myself: what does this song feel like? Does this song feel like a song where people should be happy and dance or bop? Does it feel like people should be sober and reflect? How does it sound – is this going to be groovy or calm, or a piano ballad? Sometimes I’m creating the instrumentals myself. Sometimes I’m working with an extra producer. And that’s just it for me.

Like the ocean whose depth humans cannot fathom, Anendlessocean’s belief is rooted in an infinite being and his talent cannot run dry. And that is where he gets his name from. Alli is an ocean whose ends we cannot see and has a talent that cannot run dry because he is firmly rooted in God. 

I am rooted in God who is infinite. So as the ocean has depth, so is me and my talent. I believe the ocean best describes me and my talent.

Still, this doesn’t mean his journey is without challenges. Sometimes, he questions this road taken. 

I don’t think imposter syndrome ever goes away. Sometimes, it’s our hearts and brains telling us to do better. Other times, it’s just your mind messing with you. To deal with it, I ask myself, “How did I feel the first time I put pen to paper to write these particular words? Let me go back there and relive that moment. You need a balance of actually believing in what you did and sticking with it. It’s how we handle it that matters the most.

And there are wonderful moments too. In 2023, Anendlessocean had his first headline show in Lagos, an event he describes as…

One of the most amazing nights of my entire life. A day I can never forget.

I cannot tell you how much I would pay to relieve that night because I came on stage the first time and there were so many people we sold out. We even sent some people back because it was full. And then people were singing my song word for word. That was a really, really good day. 

Another amazing day was when I put out Nazarene; the reception was really great.

To be honest? I know why: Nazarene is a brilliant, brilliant song.  

God has been there for me. I can feel him. I can see how much he’s been there for me. And how much he inspires me, how much he allows me to be myself, spread myself and fly.

The journey for Anendlessocean continues but in the meantime, if you’re considering a path in music, read this. 

The thing about success is that you define what success is to you, especially if it’s something that burns in your heart – like, I can’t sleep, I can’t eat, I can’t breathe; I need to make music. That’s just me. Genuinely believe in what you’re doing and then follow it through. The most important thing is the product you’re offering.  Don’t care about how many people read your piece or hear your song. Just care about how great it is.

Music is changing Alli’s life – slowly, steadily and surely: “It’s that I can be many things and express myself in many ways. I can be afraid. I can have faith. I can believe. I can also disbelieve.

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