Photography by Paul Shiakallis

Nigerian recording artist Glenn Mena isn’t bound to one genre

Listening to Glenn Mena’s  releases, it becomes clear that he doesn’t want to tie himself to a specific sound. This kaleidoscope of musical influences is in part thanks to his childhood which he spent in Warri State, Nigeria, where he was exposed to music from a number of different sources. “I pick up music from different places that I go to. People that I go to school with, folks in church.” His home too was filled with music, with his father a very capable singer, and his mother a fond follower of music.

Although the recording artist, pianist and afropolitan model began his musical education on the piano at around 14, and composed songs for the church choir, it was only when studying at University towards the end of 2009 that a friend approached him and told him about the possibility of recording on campus.This was an opportunity that led to his first release ‘Shawty’. “We went to the producer’s house. He had this little studio he had put together. And I recorded my first song. It sounded good. We put it out in school and people liked it.”

Officially Glenn Mena’s career really took off in 2012 with the release of ‘Movement’ while signed to Phoenix Records. “They put the song out and it made a lot of impact, so that’s when I started to take it professionally.” Since then Glenn has released a number of singles and in 2017 released his debut EP ‘Mask&Music’ on the label of the same name, which he co-founded. “The label is owned by me and my partner. We started it together because I got tired of reading contracts from other labels offering to sign with clauses that I’m not comfortable with.”From his first ever single ‘Shawty’, to 2012’s hit ‘Movement‘, the 7-track EP showcases his versatility as a musician. “It’s basically a compilation of the songs I have done. People were asking how they can get my songs all boxed up in one place so they can listen to all of it. So I thought I’d compile my old songs and the ones I have done recently and put them together as an EP.”

Most recently Glenn has dropped the single ‘Take over’. “[It’s] basically dedicated to a typical African lady. How beautiful she is, just appreciating who she is and declaring that she has taken over my life or the life of the guy who is in love with her.” He has also released a video for his trap-inspired track ‘Swerve’ featuring Problem.When it comes to defining his sound Glenn says that it is a reflection of where he is at in his own personal journey. “I feel like my life’s a journey. I’m evolving every day. The music kinda changes with whatever situation and circumstance I am in at that process of evolvement or self-discovery.”

Having added an Afro-twist to r&b, soul, hip-hop, pop and trap amongst other genre’s, Glenn is currently looking at creating music outside of what would be expected of him. “I’ve been trying to get a folk and country sound and put Afro music in there. Hopefully I pull it off and put it out.”Regarding future releases, Glenn is unsure at this stage if he’ll put out another EP or an album next, but he does know there will be cross-border collaborations. “I’m looking at featuring South African artists, I have a few on my list, I’m trying to work on that.”

With his music, Glenn aims to leave a legacy behind, an idea of who he was. “It’s basically my life and my journey so far and how I can release and put it out in music. I just hope it has a lot of me written all over it.”

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