LeriQ has a lot to celebrate. Hailing from Nigeria, the music producer, sound engineer, and all-around creative was recently nominated for a Grammy for his work on superstar Burna Boy’s latest album titled Twice As Tall. Not only are they a standout favorite in the category of Best Global Music Album, but Leriq and Burna’s working relationship can be seen as the dynamic duo.
Deemed one of the Top 5 producers on the entire continent, real name Eric Isaac Utere has found his niche in curating an eclectic sound that reels in African rhythm and combines them with the pulse of electronic dance music. Growing up in Portharcout, Nigeria, in a household of 6 siblings (all boys), LeriQ drew a lot of his influence from his parents—with his dad being a graphic artist.
With endless music surrounding him, LeriQ began his musical journey at the young age of 13. He fondly recalls meeting one of his dad’s friends, who was a producer. “I didn’t know that you could record and overlay, keep recording and overlay, and create music,” he states. “That’s when I fell in love with music.”
Currently signed to Burna Boy’s Spaceship label, LeriQ is responsible for some of Burna’s biggest hits. From “Like To Party ” to “Say You Love Me” featuring Wizkid to 4 songs on Twice As Tall, LeriQ doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. Flaunt caught up with LeriQ via Zoom to discuss his name, the early days with Burna Boy, producing 4 tracks off Twice As Tell, being nominated for his first Grammy, studio essentials, goals, and more!
At what point did you realize this music thing was forreal?
When I could impress my friends around me, friends I grew up with. I could impress them with my skills in making music. Okay if it sounds good to my friends, I could make money off it. [laughs]
What’s the inspiration behind your name?
My real name is Eric Issac. The L comes from actual lyrics from songwriting, so I put the L in front of Eric: LeriQ.
Bring us back to when you produced Burna’s “Like To Party,” at what point of your careers were you guys in then?
This was back in Rivers State in Nigeria, we just got signed to Aristokrat Records together. Likewise, he was quite excited about the record. The very day we recorded “Like To Party,” we knew something was up. [laughs]
How did you guys meet initially?
I met Burna through a friend. A friend of mine named Silk called me up one night that he had this friend coming in from the UK, he needed a studio to record that night. There were no funds, no money, he’s trying to get in the booth. I said “alright bring him over, let’s see who this is.” That’s how we met Burna, and we made “Freedom” that night. Very crazy.
What’s your guys’ relationship in the studio?
It was an instant connection, we both knew this is what we’re looking for. As a producer, finding that one artist that can work with your sound is really key. I knew this is actually perfect for my kind of music, and vice versa. We started working. Owner of Aristokrat got to hear the tracks we made, we both got signed to the label. Been making music together ever since.
You produced 4 songs on Burna’s last project, bring us back to those studio sessions.
Track 1, “Level Up (Twice As Tall)” is co-produced by me. I produced “Way Too Big,” “No Fit Vex,” and “Monsters You Made.” This project was right at the beginning of the Corona lockdown, so we’re stuck in the house. Stuck in the studio. Alright, all we have to do is create. We’re creating on a different level. We’re trying to take this thing to the whole world. We had nowhere to go, had all the time in the world. Alright, let’s do this! The energy was spectacular because he’s grown as an artist, I’ve grown as a producer. Coming back together to work on this, the synergy was awesome.
Where did you guys record at?
We recorded at his studio, Spaceship Studios, in Lagos, Nigeria.
How’s it feel for this to be your first Grammy nomination?
I know, it’s crazy! I’m excited. As a music producer, I’m proud of myself. I feel so excited. I feel like throwing a party right now. [laughs] With COVID, it’s all virtual.
Fondest memories from creating the project?
When we got to the point where Diddy was on call with us every night, we’re trying to get the song mixed across the world. The engineer was in Lagos and we had to send the files, we’re literally mixing the album over the Internet. It was new and fun for me because there’s this new possibility in music production where we can livestream the engineer’s sound and his session right here from Lagos. It was really fun.
How’s it feel to be Top 5 producers on the entire continent?
Slightly overwhelmed a bit, but I was ready. I’m ready for this. No way it’s here now, I’m proud and I’m happy. I want to say thanks to everyone who’s been supporting my music, supporting me all this while. It’s been a hell of a ride. [laughs]
What is it you want fans to get from your story?
If you know what you want, go for it. Take it and don’t pay attention to what people say or think. My sound’s eclectic, it’s not a regular sound. I’ve been doing this since I started making music. Before you know it, it’s been some years. See where it got me now today, so keep doing what you’re doing.
3 things you need in the studio?
I need the perfect pair of studio monitors, myself, and drinks. Me especially, I need to be there. Good monitors and myself, nothing I can’t do without.
How was working with Diddy and Coldplay?
Working with Diddy was really a high point. Getting Diddy in the studio… wow, that’s Diddy. Coldplay, I’ve been a fan of Coldplay since I can remember. Working on and producing a song for them was a proud moment in my career. We recorded the song “Monsters We Made,” we’re up all night thinking about a collaboration for this track. We said Coldplay, okay we’ll see what we can do about it. The next day, they called me up and said, “yo we got Coldplay. Go ahead, he’s ready to do it.” That’s crazy! And he loved it. He loved the track, that’s very exciting for me. It wasn’t just recording a song, he actually loved the track.
What’s your love for fashion?
I’m into fashion, I have new collections coming out soon. I’m going to be designing similar to merch, but actual fashion stuff. You can expect some crazy dressings, some African-ness.
Goals yourself as an artist at this point of your career?
Get a Grammy, get more Grammys. [laughs] Produce albums for international artists besides Burna Boy, like Rihanna. Rihanna’s at the top of my list. That’s a goal for me, to make a song for Rihanna.
Anything else you’d like to let us know?
I released my first studio album The Lost Sounds 1 in 2015, it featured a wide variety of artists from Africa. It’s a producer album with artists from Africa, I wasn’t really singing or rapping on it. I’m currently working on the sequel, my second studio album titled The Lost Sounds 2.