In the tiny venue of the Troubadour, dimly lit by twinkle lights and a faint aroma of cupcakes (baked by her mum!) tingling the air, we sat down with the Britain's Got Talent Semi-Finalist, Modupé, to chat about her undying confidence, working with major labels and how she met Rupert Grint!
Great performance, you really brought the room to life!
Thank you! It’s really nerve-racking at first. I have to admit I cracked a few more nervous jokes than I would at another gig.
You’ve been a musical personality for a while, you started out in a girl group, that later got signed by Universal. Tell us a little bit about how you got started out in that?
Ah yes… So I founded the band and got my best friend from theatre school involved... we then ended up getting signed to Universal Music Group (Mercury Records), going to LA and we started recording there. It was really cool, but it just didn’t work out.
When I was in the group it was like three mini, female Justin Bieber’s (from the 'Baby' era of Justin Bieber!). At the time I was 16, I was growing up, trying to discover myself and at the time it wasn’t right for me. It’s just one of those things. I don’t think I’m someone who is meant to be in a group.
"It’s just one of those things. I don’t think I’m someone who is meant to be in a group."
How did you get involved with Britain’s Got Talent then?
I initially auditioned with my guitar and I mean, I’ve always danced a lot and what happened was that they found out I could dance and they pushed to do a big dance and sing in the second round...and that’s how I got onto Britain’s Got Talent. It was this whole crazy thing and I ended up not playing my guitar.
How would you say the experience of working with such big names has shaped you as an artist?
Every experience I think I have gets me closer to who I am as an artist and right now I am much more comfortable with who I am and the type of music I make.
I think the Britain’s Got Talent thing happened because I wanted it so much from the band because I had that massive taste of this life so that’s why I maybe rushed into it. Like if I look back on it now, I probably would not have done it. It wasn’t really me… but you live and you learn.
Because all of this started so young I think I needed more time, to be more sure of myself. It’s easier to say no when you know exactly what you’re getting into. When you’re 19 and you’ve got all these people around you telling you what’s good for you, you’re gonna say yeh.
"When you’re 19 and you’ve got all these people around you telling you what’s good for you, you’re gonna say yeh"
So you’ve been to theatre school and also played an extra in Harry Potter, how else do you unleash your creativity nowadays?
I’m full-time music at the moment but honestly I’m a dancer, too and do some acting sometimes. Oh yeah, I did an extra part in Harry Potter! In the last film which was really cool. I wasn’t featured of anything, but I was in Ravenclaw, I got a wand. I didn’t learn any spells but I got to meet Rupert Grint!
The thing is, I’m never not gonna do music. For me, as I’ve grown older it’s not like, it’s not necessarily about doing it quickly and getting there that quick, it’s more about getting the music right. The older I get the more value I place into the quality of my music and I just want it to sound it’s best, so people like it. And if they do great. And if I get to play more and also travel with it, that’s the best two things!
"For me, as I’ve grown older it’s not like, it’s not necessarily about doing it quickly and getting there that quick, it’s more about getting the music right"
You’ve been in the business for quite a long time, it’s a brave thing that takes a lot of confidence. Did your family help you with gaining that type of confidence?
No, I wasn’t always this confident. I don’t anyone is just confident though. It’s something that you have to learn and I think self-belief helps. I tell myself that I believe in myself and I am doing enough and that’s what gives me the confidence.
Also, being on stage and doing what I love so in that moment when you could get nervous and get that introverted way, it makes me think like this is what I want to do, I’m in the right thing. That kind of pushes me through it.
Is there something that propels you, a message that you want to be getting across in your music?
Yes, I’d like to think so. ‘Lioness’ for example, is a song I wrote for myself mostly because I was feeling really low. I was feeling like I wasn’t good enough and so I wrote that song about a female having a lioness within herself that comes out. We’ve all for it basically.
That's the main message I’m trying to push is female empowerment and strength and not being afraid to be yourself, and be different.
"That's the main message I’m trying to push is female empowerment and strength and not being afraid to be yourself, and be different"
What would you say Lioness EP is about?
Lioness is kind of about empowerment and it came from a really hard time in my life after a relationship with a toxic partner ended. It kind of scarred me a little bit and not all of the songs are about that relationship but a lot of them talk about past relationships.
What advice would you have for young artists who are streaming for all these big stages and big labels?
Stay true to yourself. Focus on the music and stay true to yourself. And bloody practice, write a song a day if you can and don’t be afraid to share your stuff as well and don’t be afraid of judgment. A lot of people are like this could be better, but then I think, well could you write a song? I highly doubt it. I’d say, those are my main takeaways so far into my career.
And, be careful who you trust because the music industry is scary. It’s saturated with a lot of talent and a lot of people are in it for the wrong reasons. I’ve met some people who are literally like oh yeah, let’s do this song like earn a bit of money, who gives a sh*t what it’s about and work with that kind of attitude as opposed to people who are like let's try to create something together that has a message and a vibe. The message is the main thing, because you want people to feel something, you want to add value.
"A lot of people are like this could be better, but then I think, well could you write a song? I highly doubt it"
What’s next for you then?
Next I’m going to do another EP, because this one was delayed to be honest! I have so much new stuff that I want to record and I’ll be working with a new producer, someone I worked with when I first started out in music so I’m planning on reconnecting and getting maybe a five track EP. He’s got these really old-school vibes about him, and we worked well together then so I think now, 10 years later, it’s gonna be pretty epic.
If you could perform with anyone who would it be and where?
I love the 1975, if they were here right now I WOULD JUST! AH! I just think the choices they make musically like in the second album, it’s just epic.
I mean there’s a lot of people I admire of course but like I said I see myself as quite different to what’s out now and people that are popular and kind of similar to my style are like Jorja Smith, whom I really like, Mahalia, with soulful jazzy vibes.
But The 1975 just top it. They’re like a band as well, so I get the whole like experience to play with a band.
Stream Lioness on Spotify and SoundCloud. Follow Modupe on Twitter and Facebook for more updates!