- 31 Oct 23
Leading up to her debut single release this Friday, rising singer-songwriter Anikẹ Akano shared her unique blend of easy R&B and luminous indie-folk originals during last night’s Hot Press Y&E Series performance – supported by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.
Just eighteen years old, rising singer-songwriter Anikẹ Akano is a triple threat, to say the least. With a fervent vocal talent, introspective and poignant lyricism, magnetic charisma, and a unique sound that effortlessly blends soulful R&B and indie-folk, the young emerging artist is already making a name for herself in the Irish music scene.
Just days before the release of her debut single ‘Passing By’ – out everywhere this Friday, November 3 – Akano joined the Hot Press Y&E Series last night, kicking off the week with a proper bedroom jam sesh that is sure to leave a mark on instant fans.
Sporting a big smile, Akano brought all her trademark magnetic energy from the start. Relaxed on her bed with collaborator and guitarist Tevonte Black, Akano snapped a quick photo and gushed, “This is so funny, this is so fun! Thank you all for joining. How’s everyone feeling today?”
She introduced Black and took a moment to thank Hot Press and The Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media. “Honestly, from the depths of my heart, I’m so grateful. Y’all are so cool,” she laughed, “I don’t even know why y’all asked me, because who am I?”
But she quickly answered her own question, kicking things off with a soulful rendition of ‘Higher’ by Tems that put Akano’s liquid honey vocals on display. She moved gracefully as Black’s mellow instrumentals shimmered around her voice, her tone warm and clear.
One song in and it’s clear the rising artist is a divine vocal talent. It was with her next song, an unreleased original entitled ‘Two Strings,’ that Akano’s unique sound undoubtedly captivated listeners.
Introducing the song, she explained, “It’s about how music is everything and more, it’s so dope. Not the song, music!
“But I think the song’s dope,” she added with the kind of subtle self-confidence that an artist on the rise should possess.
Grabbing her acoustic guitar, Akano crooned, “Two strings on my guitar, one for the highs and the lows that curse this wretched heart for making you the star of my show.”
The combined acoustic and electric strings added an instrumental depth to her soul-stirring tune, as the bridge sped up and Akano got wordier. Black’s electric melody spiralled downward as the track drew out, ending on the sweetest note of the singer’s voice.
That honeyed tone continued into her next original song, ‘Love of my Life.’ Akano shyly admitted, “I wrote this song about a year ago, and it’s a very funny story — but not a story I think needs to be told on Instagram live.”
Still, she divulged the meaning behind the track, sharing, “It’s like seeing someone across the road and just thinking, ‘That’s it. I love him.’ You ever had that feeling? I know I have.”
The singer-songwriter blushed and smiled through the sweet, languid love track, singing lyrics full of good things: fresh coffee and morning light, tied tongues and a skipping heart.
She beamed as she tapped into a memory on the chorus, “On the night that I ran into the love of my life.” Akano’s words shone with youthfulness in her depiction of enviable first love and all its feelings, yet her sound is far beyond her eighteen years.
Moving into the next song ‘Peace of Mind,’ the singer shared that the tune is dedicated to her best friend. “My dear friend, basically my sister, Tracy,” she said, before realising that person was watching from the virtual audience.
“She’s my rock,” Akano added, before explaining the roots that sprouted the song. “It’s about how your happiness and joy is very much intertwined with the people around you,” she started, “It’s hard to be happy when they’re not.”
The lyrics of ‘Peace of Mind’ were a solace, Akano’s voice a comforting embrace. It was the kind of tender performance of a song written from a deeply personal place; the kind of song that reaches out directly to its listener to give them what they need.
Reaching the end of her set, she introduced the final track — her forthcoming debut single ‘Passing By,’ out everywhere this Friday, November 3.
“My heart sank a little when I said that,” she admitted, “I’m so nervous!”
Understandably so, but luckily without reason — ‘Passing By,’ a song that comes from a dark and relatable place, is an introspective, poignant and powerful number for any artist, let alone as a debut.
Akano’s vocals were depthful and gut-wrenching on the track, which balances the emotions of feeling isolated and stuck with a thread of hope. Akano isn’t afraid to confront her feelings directly through her art, belting on the chorus, “I feel like I’m losing myself, and I wish I was somebody else everytime I close my eyes.”
But there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel; in Akano’s case, she is that very bright-burning light.
“Yeah,” she finished cooly, turning to Black. “You did that, we did that.”
“Y’all are the realest for making this happen,” the singer-songwriter said, concluding a performance that would ideally never have ended. “I love and appreciate every single one of you in this live...y’all are some real dope people!”
Catch the following up-and-comers take over the Hot Press Instagram in the coming days…
Tuesday 31st: Holly Munro
An Irish singer-songwriter gaining recognition for her electronic-infused brand of folk-pop, Holly Munro's distinct sound draws inspiration from icons Bjork, Kate Bush, and Joni Mitchell. She also happens to be Harry and Alfie Hudson-Taylor's sister, spending most of her days alongside her producer in the same Somerset studio that Tears For Fears recorded Songs From The Big Chair in. With its folk sensibilities and ambient textures, her upcoming EP Up Against Your Nature is both reassuringly nostalgic yet excitingly fresh.
Wednesday 1st : Polly Barrett
Already renowned in the Irish folk scene with two studio albums under her belt, Polly Barrett is no stranger to the creative process and performing - having recently appeared at the Milwaukee Irish Fest alongside the Coronas, Wallis Bird and a host of Irish acts. Rediscovering her creativity through Forest Therapy, she explores the overwhelming love for one's child and parenthood on her new album Sapling be… a journey through motherhood, love and loss, the very life cycle of nature itself.