Seth Oraeki interview: Meet the young musician and The Voice UK star determined to 'take over Leeds' with his sound

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Seth Oraeki was just 17 when he wowed judges on The Voice UK.

His powerful rendition of Labrinth's Jealous saw him land a spot as the youngest member of's team.

Seth may not have made it through the battle rounds, but he left the show filled with confidence and ready to embark on a career as a musician.

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Now a promising young artist studying at Leeds Conservatoire, the 19-year-old is preparing to release a catalogue of new tunes; inspired by the music he's surrounded by in the city.

Seth Oraeki is a promising young musician studying at Leeds ConservatoireSeth Oraeki is a promising young musician studying at Leeds Conservatoire
Seth Oraeki is a promising young musician studying at Leeds Conservatoire

"I love Leeds," Seth told the Yorkshire Evening Post.

"It’s so diverse and people aren’t afraid to be themselves and dress how they like. Being surrounded by music, and so many talented musicians, was something I was missing coming from a small village.

“I love how the music scene in Leeds is always changing, it’s easy to find your sound. You could be at a rave listening to D&B and heavy drumline music, then the next week you might be at a crazy jazz bar. It’s always fluctuating and that’s really cool.”

Growing up in rural Bedfordshire, Seth lacked the opportunities to network as a young artist - but that didn't dampen his desire to reach the top of the industry.

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Seth wowed judges on The Voice UK when he was just 17Seth wowed judges on The Voice UK when he was just 17
Seth wowed judges on The Voice UK when he was just 17

His love of music was inspired by his parents and their church back home, where his dad led the Sunday worship.

Seth is self-taught in drums and guitar, discovering his natural sense of rhythm when a musician visited his primary school to teach the class to play the bongos.

He said: "I would go into this weird zone of doing my own thing and not listening to what he was doing.

"My teacher told my parents I should start drumming, so they got me an electric drum kit. It was probably the biggest mistake of their lives when I started playing at 5am!

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Seth describes his upcoming releases as “indie-pop with a soulful jazz twist”Seth describes his upcoming releases as “indie-pop with a soulful jazz twist”
Seth describes his upcoming releases as “indie-pop with a soulful jazz twist”

“With guitar, I would watch my father play and sneak downstairs at night and try to copy the shapes he played. It eventually got to a point where it started sounding good.”

After years of honing his skills in his bedroom and playing school concerts, Seth's big break came when he was accepted onto ITV's The Voice UK in 2019.

He was one of the show's youngest contestants, but he got the chance to learn from superstar mentors and Jennifer Hudson.

“They made the contestants feel like they were already artists," Seth said.

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"I fell in love with performing and it was the first moment I realised that I wanted to create a career out of it.

"I learnt how to carry myself as an artist - I was the youngest on the team, but I really respect Will and Jennifer Hudson because they didn’t baby me. They treated me the same and they worked me very hard.

"Beforehand, I was singing in school concerts and learning one song at a time. But on the show, I was getting trains to Manchester and in the studio for hours on end.

"They really taught me the idea of hard work inside the industry, which helped me to see that talent on its own doesn’t take you further in your career.”

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The hard work didn't stop once he left the show. Seth has dabbled with acoustic ballads, R&B and afro-swing, before moving to a more commercial indie-pop sound.

As he approaches his second year at Leeds Conservatoire, he is determined to "take over the city." His new track Even When It Hurts is featured in a new compilation, Boundless, promoting some of the best artists in the North.

It will be released in September alongside two new singles, which he'll premiere in a performance at Liverpool Sound City festival in October.

"I’m excited to perform again," Seth added.

"That’s one of the first reasons that I fell in love with music - watching how my music made other people feel. I’m so happy to be able to create that atmosphere again.

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“I’ve got a lot of big things coming out which I’m so excited for, and I hope I can progress in other cities the way I am in Leeds. And eventually, take over the entire world!”

Finding his sound

Seth describes his upcoming releases as “indie-pop with a soulful jazz twist”.

Moving away from the acoustic ballads that soundtracked his early career, Seth is building a fanbase with a more commercial sound.

“I’m very diverse with the music I create,” he said.

"I’m blessed to have grown up in a traditional household - my parents are from Africa and I used to listen to stuff they would listen to, like afrobeat. But right now I’ve really been taken by the old-school jazz my dad listens to.

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“One of my biggest influences is a band called Moonchild, the fusion of different sounds they create is beautiful.

“But I’m also in the North, which is a great spot for indie music. I’m focusing on the indie-pop sound now, so I take inspiration from artists like Matt Healy from The 1975 and Sam Fender.”

Emerging from the pandemic

Like many emerging artists, the pandemic threw a spanner in the works for Seth’s career.

Without live gigs to make an income and help him reach out to new fans, he turned to virtual streams to showcase his music.

“I had so many opportunities planned,” Seth said.

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“It was really hard, going from being excited to go to university, living on my own and creating music all the time - to being back doing exactly what I was doing back at home.

“But I kept the mindset of controlling the things I could control, looking at utilising what was around me to create a fan base.”

With the help of his manager, fellow Leeds Conservatoire student Gemma Crane, Seth’s career is brimming with possibilities.

He shared his advice for aspiring young musicians.

“You need to go for it and take that first step,” Seth said.

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“There’s so many directions you can go down. Every single progression you make in the industry - see it as a stepping stone.

“There are people all around the world who are talented. But talent only gets you so far, so you have to keep progressing and working to get onto the next step.”

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