Etsegenet Mekonnen is a Californian-based recording artist who recently released her debut album Yimetal which is a spiritual and uplifting blend of melodies and lyrics inspired by her Ethiopian roots.
We spoke to Ms. Mekonnen to find out more about the album, her influences and her modeling work.
How would you describe your style of music?
It’s a mixture of different styles of music and the Lyrics is the official language of Ethiopia called Amharic. I would say my style is Pop, soulful and easy to listen.
When did you realize that you wanted to pursue music full time?
I knew it from the early age that music was my calling. I decided to become a full time musician when I graduated from high school. Then, I decided to join the Mekane Yesus Jazz Music School to pursue my musical career and since then I am a full time musician.
You recently released your first album ‘Yimetal’ What was the inspiration behind the album?
To record an album was in my heart for a long time, so I was just waiting for the right time. Then, the perfect time came when I joined the LACM (Los Angeles College of Music) to study Guitar performance. Being in the music school, it is very exciting to meet and perform with a lots of talented musicians who came from all over the world, to be taught under great musicians and its a lot of work at the same time. When I got the opportunities to record my album there, I didn’t hesitate to do it. And big thanks goes to my Producer Kibrom A. Birhane who is also Ethiopian and very talented musician. He worked hard in this project with me.
One of the tracks ‘Mister'(ምስጢር) has some very intriguing visuals. Can you tell us a little bit about what the song and visuals mean?
“Mister” is a prayer song and is one of the people’s favorite from my album and one of my favorite as well!
It talks about a broken heart that no man can see but is revealed for God because God is all knowing and there is nothing to hide from him.
The visuals go with the lyrics while showing different people praying in different places. The lyrics state, “… nothing to hide from you my Lord… I pray to you cause you are the only one who can fix my brokenness…”
You are currently based in Los Angeles by way of Ethiopia. What do these two locations mean to you and do you feel that these places have any influence on your songwriting (music)?
Well, Ethiopia is my home! My life was very attached to my family, friends and even the city where I came from (Addis Ababa). LA has been treating me well but I always feel like I am in a dream, illusion or something so, these two places definitely influenced me on my songwriting (music). Since I have a chance to listen to different styles of music here in LA, my music has become influenced by western music with Amharic lyrics.
What has been the general response from your fans? Do you feel that you get a different response from your fans in the US in comparison to fans outside of the US (most especially Ethiopian fans)?
The response is very encouraging and positive. My fans have been very supportive to whatever I did and am so grateful for that. Yes, I get different response from my fans in the US in comparison from Ethiopia. Especially My US fans who don’t understand the meaning of the lyrics, it was easy to see them feel the sprit and admire the talent, the uniqueness of my voice and the production of the album.
My fans from Ethiopia or those who are Ethiopians who understand the lyrics, have a little bit different response. What they have been saying about the music is, that the style is different from what they used to listen and most of them liked the uniqueness of my album. All responses have been helpful!
You recently had a role in Pharrell’s ‘Happy‘ video. How was that experience?
It was very exciting and great Experience! I can say that was my first big recording experience to be part of – to see the big crew shooting the video, the preparation by itself took almost half day. The shooting was last summer and I remember it was very hot wearing those choir robs as we move and sing with Pharrell while shooting the video. But very Exciting!
You also work as a model (shooting a campaign for Abercrombie & Fitch). How do you juggle both the music and modeling?
I work as a musician model on video and print commercials. This way, the modeling shoots also include music☺, so its actually based on me being a musician and that doesn’t require much work. It just flows.
What inspires your music?
My Faith inspires my music a lot. My day to day lifestyle, moments, challenges, emotions (sad or happy) and I also get inspired to write music when I read the Holy Bible.
We’d like to thank Etsegenet Mekonnen for this interview. The new album Yimetal is available to purchase on iTunes. To learn more about Etsegenet, check out the following links:
Etsegenet Mekonnen’s Website
Official Facebook Page
Etsegenet Mekonnen’s Instagram