Every day, new artists are popping up on the industry scene, rising to fame through various social media platforms, Tik Tok being the most prominent. Some new faces in the music industry come from halfway around the world, including Benee and Kid Laroi. Some artists, however, begin their musical career right here at the University.
For a behind-the-scenes look at the modern music industry, The Cavalier Daily sat down with fourth-year student Akimi Gyamfi, an up-and-coming artist. Gyamfi opened up about what got her into the music industry, how her time in college influenced her craft, social media’s influence on music, and her new single “Schadenfreude.”
The conversation started by discussing his early adventures in the arts.
“When I was little, I mean my mom was just scrambling on the way to school,” Gyamfi recalled. “Mostly R&B, Neo soul Erykah Badu, Norah Jones. And then I really got into the choir. I would say [for] probably 12 all the way through advanced high school choir.
Her interest in music may have started when she was young, but Gyamfi’s time in college was a significant moment in her music career. As a member of Hoos in the treble — an on-ground a capella group — Gyamfi often collaborates with other musicians. While collaborating with other musicians, she is able to hone her musical skills and develop as an individual artist.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Gyamfi started writing his own songs. This was a stark departure from only performing covers of famous musicians at Hoos in Treble performances and on his personal Youtube. channel. As Gyamfi started writing original music and posting more videos on social media, people in the Charlottesville music scene started taking notice.
Elie Bashkow, a third-year college student and music producer at the University, contacted Gyamfi in January to work on a new song together. Gyamfi and Bashkow’s collaboration led directly to the creation of “Schadenfreude”. During this time, Bashkow introduced Gyamfi to his current label, Tropic Records.
“While [Bashkow] was mixing ‘Schadenfreude,’ [Tropic Records] really liked it and one of the founders wanted to master the song for me,” said Gyamif. “Because they liked it so much…they talked to Elie and they kind of pushed Elie to [speak with me] about Tropic Records,” she said. In February 2022, Gymfi announcement on Instagram, she had become part of Tropic Records, hinting at a future musical release.
Even before joining Tropic Records, Gyamfi used social media to share his music. Currently, she has over 70,000 total views on instagram and ICT Tac combined. Although she has found success on social media, Gyamfi maintains that navigating social media is difficult as an artist.
“Creating content is exhausting,” Gyamif said. “Hundreds of thousands, probably millions of people [have] already [posted similar] content, and so it’s about finding something that sets your music apart from others… But it’s also wonderful because I’ve been able to connect with a lot of people that I’ve never met before.
Later in the interview, Gyamfi gave an answer to what inspires his music.
“I would say a lot of my writing comes from my own lived experience,” Gyamfi said. “I think going through life – especially in my early twenties now – is really about understanding what I’m doing…I weave together the rough and the smooth, the vengeful and the forgiving, the calm and the windy.”
His approach to songwriting is executed masterfully in his song “Schadenfreude”. The song is about the feeling of Schadenfreude, a German word that refers to the pleasure derived from another person’s misfortune. In the track, someone betrayed Gyamfi, and instead of feeling sadness, Gyamfi revels in the consequences the other person will face.
The combination of instrumental and vocal performance of Gyamfi is quite capable of expressing the joy of the person who wronged him. The slow, suppressed voice is interpreted as a despised woman holding back her anger as she patiently awaits the death of the other person. Gyamfi also plays with a sense of relatability, believing that others can understand where she’s coming from by appreciating someone else’s deserved pain.
“Schadenfreude” has already captured the attention of listeners, earning 1,005 streams on Spotify on its first day of release. With that in mind, listeners should definitely give “Schadenfreude” a try. Gyamfi’s artistry is a direct homage to many classic R&B and neo-soul sounds, and “Schadenfreude” is hopefully one of many new songs that fit right into those genres. Plus, the mood of the song is perfect for a hot summer evening with your friends or cruising down the street in your car.
The single is available on Spotify and other major streams services. More songs are coming in the next few months, with an EP expected soon.