A new year is among us, and another year of musical talent is about to come through. If the last year was anything to go off, many artists took to the musical landscape, bringing a fresh style to shake up the scene. One of those artists was Nigerian Rapper and Poet Lifesize Teddy.
Coming through as the latest addition to the iconic Nigerian label Mavin Record’s latest signing, when she dropped her self-titled debut EP in August, there was something undeniably intriguing about what was on offer. She arrived with a story to tell and a sound that piqued the interest of many alike. From the bold and striking display on the EP’s cover art to the earworm of a track infused with a catchy beat and flow she delivered on her breakout single Hypnotic. It was clear that Mavin had struck gold once again.
Her perfectly self-titled debut EP introduces people to the world of Lifesize Teddy across five tracks that give a taste of what she has to offer and what fans alike can expect of her. As if that wasn’t enough, she embarked on her first overseas tour in the UK, opening on three dates of her label mate Ayra Starr’s 21: The World Tour, and finally, she dropped a second EP, POISN, further taking us into the world of Lifesize Teddy.
Displaying precisely what she is made of, both projects hint at what Teddy has in her bag as she sings and raps over her experiences from when she signed to Mavin until everything she has achieved so far. Her flow and ability to speak freely and openly over any beat given to her allow her to put her talent out in a way that refreshes the landscape of new talent that continues to shine from Nigeria.
She is not shy about her talent; her confidence and belief in herself are undeniable and are things you can tell from when you see her on stage, as was when she performed at London’s KOKO. As well as when you talk to and listen to her speak about her journey and how she sees herself as an artist. She is very sure of who she is as an artist and the places she plans to reach.
Speaking to Lifesize Teddy over Zoom, she discusses everything from her musical beginnings, signing to Mavin Records, touring with Ayra Starr, POISN, her ambitions for the future and more.
First, who is Lifesize Teddy, and how would you describe her?
Lifesize Teddy is a songwriter, poet, rapper, and singer from Rivers State, raised in Bonny Island, Port Harcourt. I’m that girl; I write, sing, and rap well. And again, I’m that girl.
What were your earliest music influences and people you grew up listening to?
I first wanted to rap when I listened to Kanye West’s College Dropout. I was nine years old, and my mum had the cassette tape. And I saw the cove and wanted to listen to it. And then I listened to it, and it was a different perspective from what I’d heard before. I heard Tupac and Biggie, and they were talking about their realities, and I didn’t know if I was interested in that. But when I heard Kanye, he was talking about him, and it was a fresh perspective; the music was fresh. The rap was beautiful. You listen to songs like Graduation, and it’s different. So yeah, I knew I wanted to rap when I heard Kanye; I started learning every song on the album, and then I just started writing mine.
How did that process begin for you and how was the experince of expressing yourself in that way?
So, when I started writing raps, I had already started writing little pockets of poetry; I’ve always been an expressive kid. I kept a diary and growing up with other siblings; I didn’t want anybody to look into my diary and be able to decode stuff. So, I started writing in code, just expressing my feelings. At the time, I didn’t even know that it was poetry. It was just in poetic words, beautiful words with a silver lining. I thought it was fun. It was interesting. I used to write cute stuff all the time. Then, there was a thing on Facebook called text ‘battling’, where you would battle with people over Facebook. I don’t know if it still happens now, but I used to text battle with people twice, thrice my age. I had my first studio session when I was 14 and started trying different things. I started singing. People like Beyonce and Rihanna have always inspired me. I used to listen to Shania Twain and Brenda Fassi and knew I could sing. So I just started to find my way around, making music. I used to be a very defiant kid. I used to sneak out of my house to go to the studio session, and I started finding my way around what I wanted and posting stuff on SoundCloud; I was experimenting. Thinking about it now, I’ve always been an experimental person because even now, my music is quite experimental. I’ve just been finding my way, just by playing around and enjoying myself.
What was going through you mind when you finally started to publish your music on SoundCloud for all the world to listen to?
I’ve always been good at what I do, so I’ve never been ashamed or scared to share my music. Even when I was 14, my first studio recording was on SoundCloud. If I return to it now, I’d cringe because that was my first studio session. But if I go back to it right now, it was terrific. I’ve always wanted people to see that. If I weren’t me, I’d root for me; people need to see that. I don’t care about opinions. Now that I have Mavin and have been unveiled, I have more followers and more people looking at me and sharing their thoughts. For people who don’t see it, I feel like they’re gonna come around because, yeah, I know that the music is so good, you know, it’s a breath of fresh air.
You were discovered by Don Jazzy which led to you being signed to the iconic Nigerian label Mavin Records, how has this journey been for you?
It’s been wonderful, it’s been wild, it’s been a journey is its journey. Big shout out to Mavin. I’ll say this every time because it’s different. It’s like school, and the academy is a whole process. It’s a learning process, a growth process. And I’ve learned so much. I’ve learned much about the industry, myself, my strengths, and everything. I have coaches, and I have access to everything I need to succeed, and it’s just really, really good to have at the back of your mind as an artist. It’s like one big burden is off your chest, and then you have to focus on creating, so it’s an amazing experience; I have the best team in the world.
Tell us about your experience of being part of the artist development academy and how it helped develop you music?
It was very exciting. I’ve always had an idea of how I wanted to be seen, so I had different pockets of ideas here and there. Big shout out to Rima, who is the A&R at Mavin; the moment she saw me, we clicked. We knew somehow it was unspoken; we knew what I wanted to be, and we just got the team to get the whole team together and get everybody aligned. Your team needs to see you for exactly who you are and what you’re about, and that’s where we’re aligned. Building this and coming up with all of this has been super exciting. The whole development was what it was for finding who I am, defining my brand, and how I want to be seen by the public. It was smooth. I’ve always been working on my Pinterest; The team and I started creating those visual boards, sectioning them and bringing them to life. It’s very, very important for every artist to have a team willing to execute their plans. It is so wonderful. I feel really good here, and the whole process has been excellent.
You put your first EP out Lifesize Teddy, over the summer of 2023. So, talk me through the experience of making that project.
The project is made up of songs that I’ve recorded over the past three years. My team and I will sit down together and determine an excellent introduction to the world. Again, my team is clutch. It was a selection process through 200 songs, and then we went down to 100, 50, 20 and then got it right. Prophecy was the first song I recorded on the first day. I came to Mavin and worked with Prestige, the producer. And it made so much sense for the project. Air, one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever worked on and made in London, made so much sense for that to be the introduction. And Hypnotic, it shows my depth. The project is very introductory and beautiful. It’s one of the best introductory projects I’ve ever listened to. I had fun with it. I’m enjoying myself in my process. This is my beautiful journey, and I’m sharing it with everyone.
The visuals and overall look of the project are striking. Was there a specific idea you had in your head when you were producing the record?
There were many ideas, so a big shout-out to my team. The concept is me, different pockets from different parts of me. In the beginning, I mentioned that I learned a lot from myself, and in that time, my team also learned a lot about me. So we just sat down together and came up with ground-breaking ideas. The project cover, The Unveil video, I co-wrote that treatment, so it’s been a beautiful collaborative process. The beautiful thing about my team is they hear me. So everything that you see is an expression of me in my little universe in my head that we have managed to bring out. I see this as my path to my nirvana, and this is the beginning. And I love that when you see it, you see my identity and that I’m not here to play.
Between dropping last summer’s debut LP Lifesize Teddy and your latest EP POISN, how have you grown and changed as an artist?
That’s why I made the second project: I like documenting my journey through music. Yeah. So it’s been three months, and I’m here now. I like documenting the journey and how it’s been in these past three months on this new project. On ‘All Eyes on Me’, I talked about how I’m here now and everything I had to face to get here. On ‘Believe’, I talked about all the challenges of people not believing in you and turning that into a superpower, and just you know to have fun as a bad bitch. ‘Addicted’ is like hypnotic I talked about, you know, just exploring the sexual part of me. ‘Blessing’ I talked about like being grateful for where I am. So yeah, the second project encapsulates everything about the journey so far. It’s been amazing. It’s been crazy. It’s been a lot of work, so much work, to be honest. It’s nice. So there’s been so much work and fun in the midst of it.
Compared to the first EP, what was your state of mind when you were making POISN?
I dropped my first project, and my first project made me understand how indestructible I am. That is the mindset I got into making this project, documenting my feelings as fearlessly as possible and talking about my stuff as rawly as possible. The project is a diary if you are all eyes on me. I was just young. And it’s a great time for Afrobeat. So technically, I have all eyes on me, but I feel indestructible; I feel like I have so much power. And this is my way of implementing that power little by little to grow myself, to become that superhero that everybody does not know they need.
Tell me why you called the EP POISN and what the title means to the project.
So in Air, the first song on the first EP, I talked about how I have so many women underneath my skin, and they’re all trying to be seen. So, Poison Baby is an alter ego that developed over time. And she helps me just like how Beyonce has Sasha Fierce. I mentioned that I felt indestructible, could do anything, and had so much music inside me. I needed to be vulnerable to have a channel of vulnerability, and she came there, you know, she came through she’s vulnerable and then fierce. She’s unwavering in her belief of who she is, and that’s where Poison Baby came from. That mindset entirely inspired the project, and that’s why I call the POISN. Also, she could pull people into her web and make people listen; she’s so conceited that she knows that people will listen. That’s the poison. That’s how, one step at a time, this project will pull people into the Web of Lifesize Teddy, and they can’t wait for the next project and the next project.
How do you develop this different alter ego?
Sometimes, you make music in a different consciousness. You’re in a different mind state where you make this music. Here, it’s a different place when you make this music. Ultimately, when I was doing this project, some of the songs were new, and some of them weren’t, but for the songs that were new, like Unbeliever and All Eyes On Me, it helped tie into the fact that this person, this persona, has always existed inside of me. So, for the new songs, they helped me tie in the other ones that aren’t and created this project. You get to realize that this persona actually inspired this song, and the other persona actually inspired this song, and so yeah, it all comes together.
How was the experience of working with Magixx and Chcobantis on the EP?
It was great. They are my friends, so having them on the project was fantastic. They were both songs that we had recorded way back. So, I just reached out to Magixx. He’s so cool, calm, collected, and he’s chill. You can hear how sultry he is on the songs I needed to have him. Making that song with him, we weren’t even supposed to work together that day. It was just me. My session was scheduled, I was in the studio, and I was writing, and I paused like I couldn’t come up with anything else. Then I left my studio to get some fresh air and saw Magixx. And I played him the song to listen to, as soon as he heard it, he asked the producer for headphones and recorded his verse. It was so good, and that’s exactly how that song was formed. We didn’t plan to make that, so it just happened.
Then, with Blessed and Choco is such a ball of good vibes. The song happened the same way Addicted happened. He was having a session next door, and I was stuck again. So, since I knew he was in the studio next door, I went to get him and asked him for some melodies, and he started humming the melodies, and then he just started singing it, and we just recorded it. And that’s how Blessed came to be; it was just mindless thoughts, just making music; nothing was planned. I never really knew how to plan things, so they happened because God designed them that way, even for both these features.
We haven’t touched on the visuals for the project. You had some great visuals from the first EP, but what can we expect for this one?
I just dropped the project. So, I’m entirely in promotion mode. So, even till the top of next year, I will still be pushing this project. So I’m trying to get in people’s faces and show them the POISN project and the Lifesize Teddy project, showcase myself as a person, you know, live my life and myself and continue to document my work as an artist in the music. Visuals are coming, so yeah, I’m working on that, and those are coming.
Before you dropped the EP, you played your first shows overseas, opening for Ayra Starr, how was that experience of being on tour with her?
It was so good; I visited three cities, Manchester, Birmingham and London, and it was incredible everywhere. That was my first time performing my music, and I didn’t feel nervous. Usually, before I start performing, I have jitters, but I feel so ready to kick it. Manchester was fantastic, and then Birmingham, the energy was so much brighter, and London was dope. As the show progressed, the energy kept improving, and I was so amazed. I saw people singing my music. That was crazy; that was so thrilling. Like, all the way from Nigeria, people were singing my music. It’s been three months since I dropped the first EP, and people were singing my music in the crowd. Some people were willing to learn; others were trying to learn the lyrics. I had so much fun, I can’t lie. It was top-tier vibes.
As we enter a new year, what do you want people to know about you as you continue your journey?
It will be nice to know I’m resilient and always make good music. They should listen to my projects; I have two projects: Lifesize Teddy and POISN. They should listen, get inspired by the projects, and look forward to more of me.
POISN is out now, follow via @lifesize_teddy
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