Meet Temi Dollface, born Temitope Philebosie.
I first experienced her performance at the Jazz Hole in Ikoyi, Lagos in May. There I was on a quiet Sunday afternoon awaiting Keziah Jones’ performance when Temi Dollface was introduced.
Dressed stylishly in a cream blouse, green flirty skirt and bold pink hat, Temi Dollface found her spot on the cramped makeshift stage and delivered a performance that immediately captured the attention of the small crowd.
She drew in the mixed brew of ex-pats, tourists and Nigerians with her unique, explosive sound.
Several days, a couple emails and a few phone calls later, I met Temi Dollface again for an interview. I simply had to learn more about the woman behind that powerful sound. We met on a rainy afternoon at Brown’s Cafe in Ikeja, Dollface’s hood.
I whip out my camera, ready to record the interview, and that’s when I learn something else about the incredibly bold performer. She is painfully camera shy.
The London/Lagos-based singer has no problems belting out jazzy, soulful lyrics on stage, but she doesn’t want a camera shoved in her face. It took a tiny bit of cajoling, but she soon graciously agreed to go on with the video interview.
Then we learn more about Temi Dollface.
Growing up with music
Born in the pews, Temi Philebosie, comes from a family that is committed to the church. It was there, as a little girl, that Temi first found her voice.
“I was always involved in anything musical in church,” she said. “I had my little band when we were in church and we sang together.”
It was her passion since she was a child, Temi Dollface explained, adding that she wrote her first song at the age of seven. She performed in the church well into her teen-aged years.
Though clearly passionate about music, the singer had to take “a bit of detour” in her later years.
Dollface explains: “Having come from Nigeria… then the general consensus was, most people wanted their children to do something professional”.
So she did. She studied in London where she acquired degrees in the sciences, but music, she says “was always there”.
“A worth-it struggle”
Temi Dollface, soon gave in to music’s calling, deciding to fully pursue her passion after her university education.
The singer has not looked back since. Temi Dollface’s career took off in London in 2002; despite the challenges she’s faced in the business, she forges ahead.
“It has been a struggle, but anything that’s worth doing, tends to be a struggle
“Without all the pain and whatnot, it’s not really interesting, is it? You can’t look back and say it has been worth it, so yeah. It has been a struggle, but a worth-it struggle”.
The singer often wonders how well her sound will be received in Nigeria, with a considerably different audience.
Temi Dollface hates to be “pigeon-holed”; she is not neo-soul and she is not jazz either. The singer describes her sound as “Drama Soul”, where hip hop, rock, pop, jazz, soul and gospel collide to make beautiful music.
Her list of influences are varied. From rap royalties like Jay Z to Afrobeat kings like the Kutis, Temi draws her inspiration from a gamut of genres and performers.
She says performing Drama Soul in Nigeria is pretty new, but she says she’s had “some really good feedback”.
“There’s a bit of lack of diversity here, in terms of music and I feel like I’m bringing something completely different to the table,” she says, adding that the reception toward her unique sound has been welcoming.
Singles, EPs and Albums
Temi Dollface is looking forward to creating her own record label and finding her own creative space where she will be inspired.
As to future music plans, the singer reveals that she does have the goods, but is still trying to figure out the music industry in Nigeria.
“I have about three albums worth of songs,” Temi said, but adds that she is still trying to “see where she fits in” and how the music industry works.
She will be releasing an EP first, before an album and hopes to do that in the coming months. that she is currently working with Icon, a producer she met two years ago through rap group Show Dem Camp (SDC).
“We just clicked!” Dollface said of her working relationship with producer Icon.
“I found myself coming back to do music, even when I was in London, I’d come back for months just to do music.”
The pair have created an exciting new song, where afrobeat meets Drama Soul. Dollface is excited about the new track, “which is likely to be one of the first singles”.
“We’ve come up with something that’s very interesting,” she said. “I think we surprised ourselves with that song because it’s nothing like anything we’ve done before.”
The artist believes in putting in the extra time to perfect her work, satisfied, she said, to let the music take her where it might.
See more videos of Temi Dollface’s past performances below!