My Life in Music: Otis Mensah
Ahead of his headline gig at Network on May 7 alongside KOG, Sheffield poet and artist Otis Mensah tells us about the formative moments in his musical journey.
The first record I ever bought
I think I recall the first record I ever purchased being Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) as a teenager, long before actually owning a record player. I was trying to turn my room into a bedroom-sized museum for hip-hop culture.
My first gig
The first live show I remember seeing was GZA from Wu-Tang at the O2 Academy in Sheffield at age sixteen; it felt blissful, I couldn’t believe he was there in the flesh. It stuffed my head with a world of inspiration as I started to pursue live performance for myself.
The first song I performed
I can’t recall my first song. I wrote a series of albums as a teenager and began performing them from the age of 15; it’s all a bit blurry. A song that stands out in my mind during my journey is Day Dream which I wrote over my favourite J Dilla instrumental and performed at my first Berlin show after moving back home from music college and working as a pot-washer. I felt like performing that song pulled me out of a deep depression and opened my eyes to what was possible artistically.
A song I wish I’d written
Souvenir from R.A.P. Ferreira formerly known as Milo. The song just encompasses such beautiful poetry that blooms vivid worlds and feels both powerful and calming.
A song I wish was never made
I have plenty of disdain for some of my earlier work prior to my mixtape Days Over Damson, but I remind myself that it’s all part of the journeying and process of becoming an artist.
I first fell in love with music when
A bright and shiny memory that sticks out is hearing Moment Of Truth by Gang Starr on one of the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater video games on PlayStation at like age 12; I’d just remember playing the song on constant repeat over and over again, completely zoning out from the actual game. It was one of the first songs that I memorized all the lyrics to and fell in love with.
One song that I can’t get out of my head at the minute
I love Tré Burt’s You, Yeah, You album that came out last year. Some of my favourite songs ever written and the song Bout Now lives with me!
A record that reminds me of a specific time and place
I Need to Start a Garden by Haley Heynderickx reminds me of summer 2018, playing shows in different cities across UK and Europe, visiting cafes and flea markets on Sundays, filling up a shelf full of records and feeling a little more content and care-free.
Tickets for Otis Mensah and Friends at Network on May 7th can be purchased here.
Check out the artist’s latest EP release ‘things i should have said a year ago’ here. things i should have said a year ago’ here.
For more Sheffield music content, head here.