Known in the music industry as your favourite artist’s favourite artist, 22 years old British-Sudanese singer-songwriter Elmiene is a voice to watch for in the coming years. On October 20th, the Oxford born and raised vocalist shared yet another EP ‘Marking My Time’, leaving a lasting impression to music lovers and average listeners alike. This is his second project in 2023, taking a much more soothing approach with heartfelt lyrics compared to his debut independent EP released earlier this year ‘EL-MEAN’.
When you think of Elmiene’s debut entrance in music, which was his colourful single ‘Golden’, for the late Virgil Abloh’s final Louis Vuitton show back in 2021, thanks to Benji B. One can not help but feel mesmerised by such a distinctive journey and type of artist we have not seen in the UK scene since the come up of a powerful figure like Sampha in 2013. To fill us with even more anticipation, Elmiene appeared on COLORS 8 months ago, positioning himself as an artist not to take lightly whilst embarking on an exclusive unplugged version of his meaningful single ‘Endless No Mores’. One can not ignore his quick yet noticeable appearance on the 2022 enigmatic project ‘Yesterday is Heavy’ by producer Lil Silva. This would also explain a couple of note-worthy collaborations which are all very prominent on his latest EP.
Here is what Elmiene had to say about this new body of work 'Marking My Time';
“The general theme of this project is trying to mark my time not in terms of history but just for me personally, so I don’t get lost. Almost making a checkpoint to anchor myself. Even sonically it’s like I’m marking my stamp that I put on things. Because I’m so deep in looking back behind me, I always found myself stumbling over what’s gonna happen next. So when my life started speeding up massively, I had to learn how to keep an eye on both sides - appreciating the past in order to do the future the right way and do it justice.”
To understand Elmiene’s tone in latest EP ‘Marking My Time’, this would take us to his only accompanied video by Cam Hicks. Throughout the visuals of ‘Someday’, the Oxford singer seems to be deliberately stuck in time, moving across sceneries in the same brown-coloured basement, revealing to the world profound thoughts such as; “My heart has been struggling with changes”. This line alone would best describe Elmiene’s inner conflict in this project; afraid to leave behind the past, accept his current reality and face his inevitable future.
In the first official track ‘Remember’, it sounds as though Elmiene is seeking for balance in life and the need to feel present. Now as a fully booked artist constantly on the move, this leaves little time for Elmiene to preserve important relationships in his life and most importantly, his connection with God as a muslim. In this song, Elmiene explores different layers of his past that sets him back to who he truly is, what is most significant for him and simply not to lose touch with reality.
On his second track ‘Mama’ off the EP, co-produced by Sampha, Elmiene is looking for reassurance from the most important woman in his life; Elmiene’s mother. A life on the road can come with a lot of internal struggles, whilst trying not to fall into the pressure of fame and keeping a healthy relationship with oneself. Much like the reasoning behind the project, it is clear Elmiene’s mother is a force in his life that reminds the soulful artist of his shortcomings and is always capable of pulling the authentic Elmiene back to light.
Elmiene’s takes a sudden turn on ‘Mad at Fire’, declaring a departure from a previous partner. Co-written by Syd from the LA band The Internet and co-produced by Lil Silva, one could say Elmiene gathered the Avengers to create a memorable song in this EP. It sounds like not only has Elmiene lost a bit of himself throughout his journey but also, he has gained some confidence and new perspectives which ultimately meant calling it quits to a relationship that was not worth his time, energy and love. Asking his former lover not to take their breakup to heart, he sings; “Would you be mad at fire when you know it will burn away? / Would you be mad at water for flowing endlessly?”. This is perhaps the most delicate way of leaving someone behind, making proof of Elmiene’s high level of maturity at only 22 years of age.
Self-titled track ‘Marking My Time’, co-written by one of many Jamie Woon, is the moment in this EP that everything falls into place. We could argue that this is where Elmiene shines the brightest, establishing such a strong solo vocal performance that it leaves a permanent mark to one's heart and soul. In a continuous effort to separate himself from all desires of the physical world, Elmiene attempts to come across as his most genuine self, using his powerful voice and touching lyrics to demonstrate a cry to heaven.
Final track ‘Diane’ can only be described as a beautiful formula to end such a phenomenal EP. With a melancholic yet realistic ending after an adventurous phase of sounds, Elmiene brings us back to the human experience.
Elmiene’s ‘Marking My Time’ is nothing short of a miracle. In a time of highly-polluted music and a high number of fast food artists, Elmiene prevails in the ways that he remains authentically himself. Although his latest project makes one question whether it is healthy to contemplate too much about the past, he unfolds his story so beautifully, making one hope for the best. This EP displays a work in progress, leaving room for growth, self-exploration and hopefully, a follow up with this time a long-formatted body of work.