Home is a complicated subject in Elsy Wameyo's latest soul-searching single, 'Outcast' - the first from her forthcoming EP.
Elsy Wameyo releases the first single from her upcoming EP, ‘Outcast’
In conversation with Elsy Wameyo, when speaking to her about her life and her art, inflected in every word she speaks is God and Kenya.
The last time CityMag caught up with the musician, ahead of her appearance at this year’s Scouted showcase, she was in the process of working out how to bring together these two influences, and her identity as an Australian-raised African, into her upcoming EP.
A large part of that identity is marked by a feeling of not fitting in. After moving to Australia at age seven, it was through music, she told us then, that she began to find acceptance amongst her school peers, as “the only Black child in the whole school.”
Things got better, but some aspects of working toward acceptance, for Elsy, felt like abandoning important pieces of her selfhood.
“A lot of kids come from Africa, or wherever, and they lose their culture. I think it’s just trying to fit in,” she says.
“You come here and you want to have that accent, you want to have straight hair, you want to look a certain way. Even me, when I first came here, the struggles. You want to fit in so, so bad.
“But as I grew up, you find the beauty in where I’m from, and being the different one is actually great.”
This is core to ‘Outcast’, the first single release from Elsy’s impending EP.
Officially hitting streaming platforms and airwaves on Friday, 8 November, the song is downtempo and spacious, with searching lyrics and a spoken intro from Elsy’s Mother and Auntie, speaking about their experience migrating to Australia:
People of this land did not welcome me
It was a difficult experience, people of this land did not welcome me
We’re children of God we don’t have any differences
Whether white, whether black
We’re all equal in the eyes of God
My child, don’t worry
We’re all children of God
Whether you’re black, whether you’re white, our blood is the same
God welcomes us all
The song is the third release from the singer, and, while sharing the softer elements of her first single, ‘Intuition’, ‘Outcast’ feels like yet another new development in Elsy as an artist.
When asked if this song will be indicative of the direction of the EP, Elsy is emphatic.
“Definitely not. ‘Outcast’ is just a taste of what I want the world to hear and what I’m capable of,” she says.
“The EP will definitely have sounds and energy from numerous feels and genres. It will capture my “lostness” very well. I’ve always felt divided after moving to Australia and this definitely translates into my music.
“I fall into many sounds and genres but music is in my soul. My blood flows in 4/4 time and I am so comfortable with it all. I love to explore and discover what music has in store.”
By her own admission, this is a newfound attitude, and the process of writing this first EP has seen her tussle with the direction her music should take.
“I sat in many studio sessions with producer, Mario Späte, and we’ve discussed the vision for the EP,” she recalls.
“When I began, I felt as though I was making music to tick boxes. Make a song to play on the radio or make a song for a festival. But I said to Mario: ‘I’m sick of living for everything and everyone else. Music is my only getaway and I cannot get lost in people and things which are lost.’
“Immediately, we were redirected and begun another Journey. This set us back, but for a good reason and bigger purpose.”
Elsy expects the full EP to be out in March 2020.
In ‘Outcast’, Elsy sings of the disconnect within the concept of home for immigrants who are removed from where they feel like they belong: Seems like he’s living in the past/ he’s just another outcast.
We ask what it feels like to miss Kenya, and given she’s spent her most formative years in Australia, is there a similar feeling of disconnect when she visits her home country?
“I literally wake up every day and I’m like, ‘Take me home,’” Elsy laughs.
“I’ve grown up here, but knowing my culture, Kenya has influenced me. I’m here but I’m still learning about there, so there’s that connection.
“It will always be home. Let no one talk that out of me. Not even Kenya. I refer to home as the whole of Africa. If anyone ever tries to speak that out of my mind – my soul is in the dirt and soil of Africa. I love home.”
Listen to ‘Outcast’ on Soundcloud now and look out for the track on your streaming platform of choice from Friday, 8 November.
An Adelaide launch event for the single is likely in the future, but she plans to let people “sit with the song for a second before we come together and really enjoy it.”