Stand by You, a song on KollyDee’s six-track EP Sinus Rhythm released week, faintly bubbles with Craig David vocal markers, one that will have listeners longing for an era of purer, cloying RnB. Although it comes off as a simple and effortless, a cute manifesto about unconditional love, Stand by You took nine months to put together and remains the most difficult song KollyDee has ever written, with the second verse written by a friend.
”This song put me through hell, KollyDee reveals, ”I had to sing and write most of it in Yoruba but I love a good challenge and I’m glad I conquered it and produced such a beautiful record.”
It’s a charming song on the EP, an instant earworm, and it stands as a favourite for the 26-year-old singer-songwriter. Releasing a RnB project in a climate churning with the consumption of Afrobeats goes against the grain, against the currency of the times.
”I don’t think it’s an RnB thing,” KollyDee clarifies, ”I think generally people just don’t appreciate good music anymore like they used to, regardless of the genre. So I’d say good music is slowly dying because a lot of artists are pressured into doing popular music just so they can sell records. I have chosen to stay true to myself and stay in my lane, which is RnB, it’s the core of who I am as a singer and a songwriter.”
Born Alade Kolade, KollyDee listened to a wide range of music as a child, especially 90’s RnB in which his sound marinates in. At 13, Asa’s debut Asha made him fall in love with the idea of being an artiste, while also drawing inspiration from Brandy’s Full Moon, Tyrese’s I Wanna Go There and King Sunny Ade’s Seven Degrees North.
Moving to Ukraine to study medicine would turn out to be a catalyst for this growth as an artiste. ”I was one of the few black people doing music professionally and I was lucky to be invited to perform on some of the biggest stages while I lived there, like the Euro 2012 fanzone concert in Lviv,” KollyDee reminisces, ”I was barely 18 years old at the time and to have had the opportunity to sing on such a stage meant and still means the world to me. Ukraine afforded me the opportunity and time to hone my skills and talents.”
KollyDee still practices medicine interestingly, and from his medical lexicon he imports the term ”sinus” to construct a title for his debut project, which he started recording in 2019. More deeply though, ‘sinus rhythm,’ a medical term for normal heartbeat, is autobiographical and captures the current state of KollyDee’s life, done surviving a world of misfortunes, depression and a heartbreak, and embracing self-love and peace.
Preceded by a small universe of music cover attempts – an acoustic version of Drake’s Hotline Bling, Enrique Iglesias’ Hero, Michael Jackson’s Heal the World, Davido and Chris Brown’s Blow My Mind, Tiwa Savage’s Dangerous Love – KollyDee wanted Sinus Rhythm to take in facets of his life.
”When I thought about making a body of work, I wanted to make something that was precise, compact, straight to the point and represents who I am and what I do as a vocalist, songwriter and a doctor,” KollyDee explains, ”The EP is more like a teaser of what KollyDee has in store especially after being away from the music scene for a while.”
The EP’s lead single and opener Maria Maria is a yearnful, soapy crush of emotions. Emotions is the currency of Sinus Rhythm, crackling with raw slices of personal experience. Even the closer Super God, a clear gospel track, catapaults into the realm of silky bedroom RnB.
Being an independent artiste, KollyDee loves the agency that comes from being in charge of his music but the other side is unpleasant, in that making music is expensive. ”I do everything myself, pay producers, pay for promotions, music videos, logistics and so on. I had to learn to record, mix and master my own music just to save cost and at the same time improve myself. It could be draining emotionally, physically and financially.”
KollyDee laughs upon revealing that he’s working on his first studio album. He’s also shooting the music video for Maria Maria, collaborating with one of the biggest names in the Nigerian fashion industry to release his first collection, and planning the KollyDee Dinner Concert Lagos edition billed for 2021.
In a year ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic, KollyDee recalls the bloodless sequence of being a frontline worker. ”If anyone understands the impact of the pandemic, it definitely has to be me as I was at the hospital working all through. I caught the virus as well weeks to my birthday in August. Lost a dear friend to the virus, trust me I was hit hard.”
2020 has been an oddball of a year, and the unflattering happenings had only compelled KollyDee to put out music, as he considers the transient nature of life. ”Music is my happy place,” he smiles, ”and through music I’m able to bring happiness to other people as well.”
When Bernard Dayo isn’t writing about pop culture, he’s watching horror movies, anime and trying to pretend his addiction to Netflix isn’t a serious condition.