Interview: Lighthouse Family's Tunde Baiyewu
The vocalist behind hits including Higher and Ocean Drive talks rider requests, performing at the Royal Albert Hall and staying at the Burj Al Arab…
British duo the Lighthouse Family will take to the stage on Friday November 1 as part of an all star line-up for Party in the Park 2019.
But ahead of their performance next month, vocalist Tunde Baiyewu talks to What’s On about rider requests, performing at the Royal Albert Hall and staying at the Burj Al Arab.
What’s On: Your new album came out this summer, the first Lighthouse Family record in 18 years, why was now the right time to release a new album?
Tunde Baiyewu: We’ve talked about making a new album a couple of times over the years but the time never seemed right and so it never quite happened. But this time around our original record company approached our manager and asked if we were up for making another Lighthouse Family record, so he called me. I was out in San Diego one summer and hadn’t spoken to him for maybe 10 to 15 years, and it started from there, really. When we went into the studio after the initial stages and things had been ironed out it just seemed like a natural progression from where we’d left off the last time.
WO: How has your music and sound evolved over time?
TB: We did have that discussion too where we asked ourselves “what are we trying to do here?”. Obviously we wanted to make a Lighthouse Family record, but then the next question we asked ourselves was “what is a Lighthouse Family record?”, and sometimes that is quite a difficult thing to define. It’s pop music but it’s kind of got a soulful and spiritual elements to it, and it was also important to make a record that was of today, that was relevant to 2019. I definitely didn’t’ want to make a record identical to the first two records we’d made. With music, the more you do it, the more you grow and you grow with it and I think we both wanted to bring those new elements of growth into the record, without losing what makes a Lighthouse Family record a Lighthouse Family record, and I think that’s exactly what we did.
WO: You’ve performed in locations all over the world, where stands out?
TB: We’ve just come back from Singapore where we performed at the Grand Prix and that was epic. I would say one of the one’s that really stands out to me was at the Royal Albert Hall. It was a sellout gig at a prestigious venue but what made it special to me was my mother being there. In the beginning of doing the Lighthouse Family I’m not sure if my mother was completely on board with the whole idea, she always used to say, “Oh music is just a hobby, you need to have something else to fall back on if that doesn’t work out”. But when we did the Royal Albert Hall my mother came to that gig and I think for the first time after seeing us live that was the moment she approved and accepted it, so I think that was, so far, the most epic and significant gig for me. To be honest every one is different, every crowd is different, every venue is different but I would say that one because it’s just so personal. Not too long after that she passed away, so it’s eternally marked in my memory banks.
WO: Did you ever anticipate Lighthouse Family would get as big as it did? Was there a defining moment where you really felt like you’d made it?
TB: No I didn’t, and in the early days I was quite reluctant about the whole thing to be honest. We’d both finished university, we were working in bars still trying to figure out what we wanted to do. Then we did Ocean Drive and things started picking up pace very quickly and continued to gather momentum, we didn’t have much time to think about it! It’s more that there were lots of little significant moments. For instance, I remember we were on the motorway one time, we were doing lots of radio interviews and radio promo in those early days and we were on our way to Scotland in this little minibus, that was our tour bus at the time, and our song Ocean Drive played on the radio for the first time as we were driving up there. We actually had to park the car to listen!
WO: You’ve talked about being on the road and going on tour, is there anything you can’t travel without?
TB: I always have to make sure I have some good quality honey for my voice. Raw honey, lemon and ginger – that’s always got to be on my rider, but that’s it really. I don’t revel in being in the spotlight but I’m in that position because I’m a singer, it’s part of the job, and I do get nervous. I have something with me that calms me down before I go on stage such as a good book, some chamomile tea, and an hour or two before I go on stage I won’t talk much. It’s not because I don’t want to, just because I’m nervous so I retreat into myself. But once you’re on stage and you go through the first or second song and you settle in, it’s a great feeling.
WO: It’s your first performance in Dubai, what can fans expect?
TB: Well I don’t know how many people know Lighthouse Family out there – or how big Lighthouse Family is!
WO: The announcement has been met with a lot of excitement…
TB: Well I’m really looking forward to it, I can’t wait. Fans can just expect all of the songs that they probably know; Lifted, Higher, Ocean Drive… you know we’re going to be doing all that stuff. A typical Lighthouse Family gig involves the whole crowd singing a long, so people can expect a big sing along fest. A lot of people come to our gigs with their own individual stories that they connect to our songs, they remember listening to Higher or Ocean Drive when they were still a kid and a lot of those people come to our shows and they’re grown ups now, but they still have fond memories. So I would say expect a big trip down memory lane.
WO: will you have time to hang out in Dubai while you’re here? What will you be getting up to?
TB: we don’t leave until the morning of the following day, so I don’t know. I haven’t got anything planned yet, but I would definitely love to look around. I’ve been to Dubai once, I came on my honeymoon. We stayed at the Burj Al Arab, we went on camel rides… I’m not sure we’re going to have time to do that I don’t think this time but if there’s anywhere you think we should go – please let us know!
Party in the Park, Dubai Media City Amphitheatre, Dubai Media City, 6pm to 1am Thursday October 31 and 2pm to 1am Friday November 1, from Dhs160. partyinthepark.ae