Sultan Alabede, better known as Sully Gravity, is a Spanish-Nigerian singer-songwriter from Spain, but currently resides in London. His emotive, sensual and soothing sound is infused with Soul, Pop, R&B and Gospel.
Sully recently released a single titled, Worn Out in October, which has over 8,000 plays on Spotify and is currently working on his debut EP, epokhe, set to release in 2019. In this interview, he gives insight on his background and the thought process behind his upcoming project.
T:Glad we can connect! How long have you been keeping up with the Black&Gifted blog?
S: Yes! I honestly started with the Freudian article because I got quite obsessed with Best Part and as a music student I like to do my research on albums. And I always go back like every now and then in order to get some new music and getting some inspiration.
T: That’s nice! Glad our platform could provide that for you. How long have you been into music?
S: Literally since forever. I was classically trained in a conservatoire in Spain and I was tenor in my church’s choir so I’ve literally been involved with music since I was a baby.
T: Does music run in your family or are you the only one who has musical talents and interests?
S: It runs really deep in my family! My dad has been a huge fan of Fela, King Sunny Ade, Lagbaja and R.Kelly since forever and my mum is a huge Whitney and Gospel fan so Saturdays were the big cleaning and listening to music days. My mum also sings in the church and that’s where I started singing.
T: That must have been nice growing up around such passion for music. Other than family and church influencing your love of music, what are some other sources that have shaped you as an artist?
S: Art! Specially literature and paintings. I’ve always been a huge fan of classic mythology and classical art in general, and that ties in with Greek philosophy. The name of my upcoming EP, epokhe, is a borrowed term from the skeptical academy.
T: Art is a powerful influencer! Tell me more about your EP, epokhe.
Epokhe as an EP represents my journey in learning how to not make judgements of everything that surrounds me, specially if it’s something I can’t control.
S: ‘Epokhe’ is a concept I’ve been working on the past two years, almost finished but always changing. It means suspension of judgement, and it was born of the skeptic philosophers, who proposed that, when controversy arises, an attitude of noninvolvement should be adopted in order to gain peace of mind for daily living. That peace of mind or ‘end game’ is called ataraxia (freedom from worry and anxiety). Epokhe as an EP represents my journey in learning how to not make judgements of everything that surrounds me, specially if it’s something I can’t control. The first song I released, Lessons, represents what I’ve learnt so far, things I can tell myself that never change i.e you have to be resilient in life, things (good and bad) come and go, life isn’t easy but you have to try and try again. With regards to Worn Out, it represents that first stage of being conscious of the number of irrelevant judgements I make day after day and the anxiety that comes with it.
T: I feel that your EP and the concept is something that many listeners will be able to relate to. Letting go of what you cannot control, anxiety and becoming self aware. I can tell that you’ve put much thought and reflection into this project. What was the process of writing and creating a cohesive EP like for you?
S: Well, I’ve been writing for quite some time now and when I decided to write my EP I spent sometime deciding what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it. I guess the hardest part is filtering through the songs I’ve written in these past two years that fit what epokhe represents and all the songs I’m writing that are also a part of the epokhe process. It’s hard to write an EP on your evolution when you’re constantly evolving.
T: The selection process seems like it would be very difficult. As you’re evolving, your tracks are. So, when you write new music are you having to go back to the drawing board and decide if the old or new song fits better?
S: Completely. I am currently working on my third single, which is a reflection on my love life a year and a half ago. I wrote a song (actually more than one) a year and a half ago about my relationship, but it’s actually this song that best embodies what I felt back then, because the thought process behind it is more crafted and many of those wounds have healed.
T: I understand what you’re saying. Depending on the fit of a track, it doesn’t matter if it’s old or new as long as you feel that it correlates to the project. Has your location influenced your music in any way?
S: Uhm 100%! I started writing songs for epokhe 2 years ago, but I experienced ‘real anxiety’ once I moved to London last year. I had quite a relaxed life in Spain. Teaching and traveling mostly, but once I moved I had to juggle an almost full-time job with being a full-time student and all these other responsibilities. That’s when epokhe really got a deep meaning. Back then it was more of a ‘way of thinking’ per se, but now it’s become a way of life. I have since then quit my job and I’m back at teaching in a school while studying, so yeah!
T: How do you balance work and pursuing your passion for music?
S: I try my best, but I don’t know if I’m really efficient. I am doing 101 things at the same time and it’s been working great so far, but it’s time to start prioritizing because if I’m not careful I’ll have a breakdown. I’m not gigging at the moment as I’m focusing on writing and recording, but I already have some dates for 2019 and I am going full on!
T: What are some of your goals with your music from now into the future?
S: Well my main goal at the moment is sharing my piece of soul with the world. My mothers says life is a chain of favors and music has saved me in so many many many ways that the least I can do is to share back. I’m also going to be performing live a lot more in 2019! My first gig is the 22nd of January at the Lucky Pig in Fitzrovia, London.
T: Wishing you all the best with that! I like to hear that you’re putting yourself out there. It’ll pay off for sure!