Surinamese/Dutch folk-pop singer/songwriter néomí (Neomi Speelman) is setting up 2022 to be her formal breakout year. Writing authentic and sincere stories backed by dreamy soundscapes on which her delicate, bewitching vocals sit, the artist released her first single earlier this month, titled “if i wasn’t made for love,” and will be releasing more in anticipation of her EP, before, scheduled for release in June 2022. This debut single takes inspiration from modern-day folk songwriting royalty, Ben Howard and Bon Iver, accompanied with the choral prowess of harmony maestros The Staves, and tonal originality of Phoebe Bridgers and Sharon van Etten.
As a younger, néomí’s first step into music didn’t exactly start on the right foot when she was told she had to attend piano lessons. She agreed to attend 5 years before deciding whether to continue or not, but after five years, she was unimpressed with her learnings and vowed never to play music again. 4 years passed by before she reached a musical junction when she stumbled across a live video of Ben Howard performing “Old Pine,” with a cellist in tow. Spellbound and inspired, néomí picked up a guitar and began teaching herself how to play from online tutorials. As her skill and confidence grew, she looked at applying to musical schools and was invited to audition in Amsterdam, where she ended up being accepted to study. Over the next 4 years, she honed her songwriting and sound, pulling from her influences of Bon Iver, Bob Dylan, and, of course, Ben Howard.
While 2020 was set to be her breakout year as she recorded her first singles with British engineer/producer Edd Hartwell, supported singer-songwriting legend Don McLean, and was also invited to the UK to play her first shows abroad, the pandemic and a life-changing event quickly scuppered these plans. néomí then used the next 12 months to develop as a songwriter and add to her growing catalog of songs. Now, with the world slowly returning to normality, néomí finds herself signed to [PIAS] with dozens of songs ready and waiting to be uncaged and take flight, explaining her excitement,
It hurt me I couldn’t connect with people last year through my music, but I know now even more, that when the time comes, we will connect. And I hope people are just as eager as me to experience my music together. Like an artist I admire much once said: “the music has served me, now let the music serve you.
“if i wasn’t made for love” pushes back against the notion that love is this universal force that we can easily understand just because we can feel it. But it’s strange and hard to understand, even if we know it exists and that we can feel it – it’s not something we can always make sense of, and we don’t need to. néomí explains the inspiration behind this debut,
“if i wasn’t made for love” was written in a time where I doubted love in the most possible way ever. And let’s be honest, love is the most stupid thing in the world. Think about it: you want someone, you fall in love, you love each other, you hate each other, it hurts, you break up, and you keep doing that because every time you think once more “this is the one.”
With ’”if i wasn’t made for love,” I sing about the beauty and mystery of life. And what love brings to me, and I think also to others. The idea is: if life were simple, love would be simple as well. But in the end, it’s wonderful that love is complicated. I’d rather be “not made for love” than understand it.
Set against a rolling indie-folk soundscape filled with cascading guitar strings, haunting vocals explore hypotheticals as néomí struggles to come around to the idea of love that society has bought into. Vocal harmonies carry the hesitant thoughts into an atmospherically enhanced chorus which then falls into a kick drum backed verse. With the next turn of hypotheticals, a strong release follows into the next chorus, evoking feelings of triumphant acceptance that flows through the remainder of the song as a build-up of instrumentals lead into an impressive string solo. néomí closes the song with a string of “if i wasn’t made for love” against the ever-expanding production with her melodic vocals, drawing to close a song that challenges the notions that we’ve come to believe about love – providing an anthem for those who may feel unaligned with what they should believe.