Q&A with Sierra Leonean artist Thy Young

We sat down to chat with California-based Sierra Leonean producer Thy Young aka Francis Tiffa Williams. He  unveiled his fourth single, ‘Luck’ featuring Rahim on March 28, 2024 via Survival Records, LLC. The track offers us a taste of his forthcoming album, Scent of Amie, slated for release on the 14th of June 2024. Regarded as one of the best producers in Sierra Leone, Thy Young is the man behind the beat for artists such as Kontri Boss, Dom B., Swadu Natasha Beckley, Mello Seven, Innocent Kuti, Kaley Bag, Bigg Shake, and many more. He boasts the title of Best Music Producer of the Year 2020 & 2021 in the Sierra Leone National Entertainment Awards (NEAs). He’s credited for many of the hit songs out of Sierra Leone and globally. He produced the song Champion’ by Shadow Boxxer & Mellow Seven which was notably featured on CNN Inside Africa. Now, his solo project as Thy Young is beginning to make waves and shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. Influenced by US Hip-Hop giants 2Pac and 50 Cent as well as Sierra Leonean legends Jimmy B., Amie Kallon and Steady Bongo, his sound is sure to please fans of Rema, Davido and Obongjayar.

1. Tell us about you, how long have you been producing music? What inspired you to start? 

My name is Francis Tiffa Williams, also known as Thy Young in the music scene. I wear many hats – a father, husband, man of faith, and proud Mende Bobor from Sierra Leone, West Africa. Music has been woven into the fabric of my life since childhood, thanks to my father’s eclectic taste. From traditional African rhythms to reggae, soul, and jazz, our home resonated with diverse sounds. I found myself drawn to mimicking these captivating melodies, fueled by the joy they brought to our household. My father’s love for music became my beacon, inspiring me to embark on my own musical journey.


  1. The music industry is super competitive these days, was there a moment in your life that you wanted to give up on music? How did you manage to stay focused and achieve what you want? 

After more than 15 years in the music industry, there have been moments when I’ve contemplated walking away, especially during times of investing substantial effort without seeing immediate returns. However, my faith, support network, and unwavering passion for the art have been my pillars of strength. Faith, for me, serves as a guiding light through life’s trials. My wife, children, and close friends, notably Dom B., have provided invaluable encouragement and constructive challenges. Their unwavering support not only urges me forward but also pushes me to elevate my craft. For instance, involving my family in the creative process, with my wife and kids contributing to album interludes, has infused my music with personal significance. Additionally, Dom B.’s insistence on weaving Sierra Leone’s cultural elements into my work has added depth and authenticity. These collaborative efforts reinforce my love for music-making, reminding me of the importance of believing in oneself and surrounding oneself with believers, regardless of the challenges along the journey.


  1. How would you describe your creative processes? Who writes the lyrics to the songs? Are the music and lyrics written in conjunction, or separately?     

My creative process is fluid and adaptable. Sometimes melodies strike me unexpectedly, weaving themselves into my mind as I go about my daily routines. I capture these fleeting moments by humming them into my phone or using a simple keyboard program to preserve them for later. The urge to translate these melodies into full-fledged tracks often compels me until I’ve realized them in sound.


In other instances, collaboration fuels the creative spark. Artists I work with share their ideas, and together, we nurture and refine them through iterative exchanges. The synergy between lyrics and music is equally varied; sometimes, the lyrics inspire the melody, while other times, it’s the reverse. This dynamic interplay ensures that each piece of music is a unique fusion of inspiration and creativity.

4. Where did the inspiration come from?  

My inspiration stems from the most profound aspects of my life: my wife, kids, family, friends, and faith. It may sound simple, but these pillars provide the foundation for my creative journey, infusing my work with depth and meaning.


  1. What’s your favorite track from the upcoming album and what other bands/artists are you listening to right now?  

While each track on the upcoming album holds its own significance, ‘Enjoyment’ stands out as one of my favorites. Its incorporation of the Gumbe drum, a traditional West African instrument native to Sierra Leone, adds a unique cultural flair that I believe will resonate strongly with the diaspora. As for my current musical interests, I find myself drawn to a diverse range of bands and artists, from across genres. Exploring new sounds and perspectives enriches my own creative journey.

6. What’s next for you?

As I look ahead, my primary focus is on the success and impact of this album, not only for myself and our label, Survival Record, but also for Sierra Leone. The journey from 40 songs to 13 tracks underscores the depth and evolution of my creative process, hinting at the potential for future albums. With each project, I aim to push boundaries and set new standards, aspiring to break records and leave a lasting mark on the music industry.


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