Eno Williams is a bird of paradise amongst a flock of sparrows. She will not only burst your eyeballs, she’ll make you laugh and fill your ears with sounds you never thought possible. Her band Ibibio Sound Machine exploded into our consciousness with its incredible mixture of Afro-electroclash, and we’ve not wanted to listen to anything else since. We caught up with her in London to talk faith, heritage and fashion, and how she almost ended up in a career as an accountant.
I meet Eno Williams at London’s Southbank Centre during the fifth Women of the World Festival. It’s one of the first warm days of the year, the sun is shining, the sky is blue, and everything seems right with the world. Eno and her band opened for Tune-Yards here last night, and they have returned this morning to perform I’m Running (Nya Fehe) for a special live recording of Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour. There’s something of a positive sisterhood vibe in the air, which is fitting as Eno begins our conversation by telling me about the profound influence that the women in her life have had on her.
“I grew up surrounded by amazingly strong and inspiring women,” she tells me. “My mother, my grand- mother, my aunties, my sisters. We were, and still are, a very tight-knit family. My grandmother came from absolutely nothing yet managed to set up businesses distributing provisions in Africa. She built herself from the ground up. I think that’s why she always told us that whatever we wanted to do, we just had to put our heart into it and go for it. She told us not be afraid and to always believe in ourselves. My mum was the same, she told us never to take any nonsense or shy away from things. Together they have been such positive role models, always full of encouragement and words of wisdom.”