Xenia Manasseh: All about love hate

Xenia Manasseh [Instagram]

You took your time to produce your debut album Love/Hate PT.1...

I wouldn’t say that it was intentional, but over time we realised this project would come out when it was meant to, at the appointed time. It has been in the works for four years! I recorded it while transiting between Kenya, the US and Nigeria. I feel like all the movements I have made impact my sound, simply because I pick up something from each place I go to. It is inevitable, especially when you have a curious mind. 

You’re known to have hundreds of records. How did you settle on the 11? 

Good question. But I am not sure if I have an answer to this; somehow, we just knew that this was the structure. 

What inspired ‘Temporary Love’ and ‘Anticipate’ as the lead tracks? 

Temporary Love was a song I had wanted to put out for such a long time; it felt like the right one to lead with, to show that this project was going to be rooted in R&B. Anticipate was an obvious second choice because it featured someone who opened the door for Kenyan alternative artistes like me. It was a call home. 

When will we get your collaborative efforts with Rowlene and Blxckie? 

Collaboratively, this record is strong and speaks to the power of collaboration and the features of Tay, Karun, to the production in Mombru and others. I keep finding myself discussing the power of collaboration and the magic of it all, being that we all come together to tell the same story. With Mombru specifically, we have had moments where I wrote to his beats and it turned out to be what he was going through as well. It is a beautiful experience. 

You have been involved with A-listers, notably in the Teyana and Burna Boy projects, what pulls you into working with an artiste?

Nothing in particular. I have just been in the right place at the right time. Most creatives want that to happen to them. 

How does creating music in Los Angeles (LA) compare to Nairobi?

Creating in both places is the same. Every location challenges me differently, and I look forward to those challenges, including the learning experiences. 

How was it opening for Sauti Sol in LA?

It was a dream come true. Who would have thought when we all met in 2012 that we would one day be performing together in the City of Angels? You cannot make this stuff up. It was yet another dream come true. We decide to follow our dreams armed with a lot of hope and faith in ourselves and our abilities. When things like this happen, there is nothing but endless gratitude. 

Your team comprises of women only … 

I am thankful for my team, and I am proud of what we have built together in the last few years. It is amazing to know that all of this was done by us. All this learning, all the pivoting and redirection, every step of the way it has been us. I do not think any of us has ever subscribed to the notion of ‘what women can and cannot do’, and I believe it shows.

What next for Xenia? 
Everything with my name on it. I am waiting to be surprised myself. 


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