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Progressive R&B artist Wayne Snow is adept at atmospheric ballads, swampy funk grooves, and raw house tracks alike. The Nigerian-born, Berlin-based vocalist and songwriter arrived in the mid-2010s with his first of many collaborations with fellow producer and musician Max Graef, and was behind a number of short-form releases as a featured and solo artist by the time he offered his debut album, Freedom TV (Tartelet, 2017). Snow’s Figurine (Roche Musique, 2021), an airier second album that more prominently showcased his falsetto register, followed numerous additional one-off studio associations and continued work with the likes of Graef and Neue Grafik.
Born in Nigeria and raised in Paris, Wayne Snow (Kesiena Ukochovbara) grew up hearing vintage soul in his household. Over time, he started playing guitar and piano, began writing songs, and performed in a band that played classic rock. While listening to Aretha Franklin records, he discovered he could sing in falsetto, and as a result studied the work of contemporary soul-rooted R&B artists such as D'Angelo and Musiq Soulchild. Frustrated that he was pigeonholed in France as strictly a Nigerian musician, and infatuated with electronic music as a Black art form, Snow relocated in 2013 to Berlin, where he felt unrestricted as an artist. Through Julius Conrad, he met Max Graef as Graef was making the 2014 album Rivers of the Red Planet, and contributed to two of its songs as co-writer and vocalist. Not wanting to be viewed as just an associate, Snow — aided by Graef — quickly put together his debut EP, Red Runner, issued mere months after Rivers of the Red Planet.
Snow’s collaborations and solo output expanded over the next couple years. He released the Rosie EP, teamed with Darius for the single “Helios,” and assisted the likes of Mop Mop and Neue Grafik. This all led up to Snow’s Freedom TV, a full-length debut titled in tribute to guerilla fighter, activist, and poet Freedom T.V. Nyamubaya. Max Graef, Neue Grafik, and Nu Guinea all contributed as Snow’s co-producers on the album, issued in March 2017. A few months later, “Rosie” was licensed for the 12th volume of Brownswood Bubblers, a series of compilations selected by BBC DJ Gilles Peterson, one of Snow’s earliest high-profile supporters. Between albums, Snow remained active as a collaborator with Darius and Neue Grafik, as well as a wide swath of other artists including FKJ, Folamour, and Zeitgeist Freedom Energy Exchange. Figurine, his second album, followed in September 2021. ~ Andy Kellman