Written by Rotimi Ige Friday, 30 November 2012
2010 MTN Project Fame finalist, song writer and producer, Tolulope Abraham Adesina popularly known as TOLU, has remained in the headlines since his participation in the keenly music contested competition, churning out singles. In this interview with Rotimi Ige, he talks about his passion for music, his experience during the 2010 MTN project fame competition and his new singles, among other things.
DEFINE Tolu before Project fame and now?
A lot has changed in terms of exposure and understanding of the Nigerian music industry’s need for vocal prowess and unique stage craft. Most of these lessons were acquired during the Project fame platform and as well through personal experience but Tolu as an individual hasn’t changed much. I’m still calm, quiet and very passionate about music.
How was the Project Fame experience for you?
The Project Fame experience was a learning process for me both musically and personally. It was my first time in Lagos and everything seemed strange and different to me (judging from my more conservative and simple Kaduna lifestyle), it opened my eyes to more and though the end of it all wasn’t favourable because I didn’t win first prize, I can still say it’s all adding to the making of Tolu. I’m resilient and won’t give up pursuing my dreams.
In your opinion, would you say the judges were helpful in modelling your talents?
Well yes, they gave me the necessary push I needed to be impressive every week till the week I lost my voice and then I personally felt they were too hard on me with their comments but it was alright. It’s all content.
Who were your best faculty member and best judge in the house?
The faculty consisted of three very amazing individuals; Mrs Joke Silva, Miss Ige and Uncle Ben. I learned so much from them and I admire and respect them a great deal. I wouldn’t say I had my best but Miss Ige and I clowned a lot so we were close...but like I said all of them were extraordinary individuals.
How is life after Project Fame?
Wow, life after project fame has been challenging I must say. The music ‘industry’ is a whole different ball game and in Nigeria, it’s not enough to be talented and even the big ballers in the game fight tooth and nail with money and every resource available to them to remain number one. I, on the other hand, have to swallow a lot of patience pills. Since Project Fame ended, I’ve improved my production skills and produced for artistes like Skales of EME, and recorded five singles in total (Arewa, Whine it, and the most recent Iam3 project). I performed on different stages that are too many to count and also came back to project fame this year and paired with wonder voice, Adetoun! I have been really busy.
Are the members of the judges or faculty of any help to you after Project Fame?
Well, the faculty members to me are there for moral support and a little pat on the back now and then.
You seem to be a ladies’ man. How do you handle your female fans?
As for my female fans, I love them all. They are an integral part of the reason I do what I do. I’ve got nothing but love for them.
Tell us about growing up?
Growing up in Kaduna for me was different. I was your classic loner and the kid everyone enjoyed picking on. I was quiet and tried to get out of harm’s way so I had very few male friends and more female friends. I wasn’t an outdoor person so I didn’t play street football or cops and robbers like most kids did, but I enjoyed watching TV and listening to music.
My best gift then was a “walkman” and I got it from my uncle. I’d record FM stations on tape and play back over and over. So to other kids, I was boring (laughs).
Earliest memories of family life?
When I was in kindergarten class, my teacher then, “an Indian”, also loved to sing to us. I was in Saint Anne’s Nursery and Primary School then.
When did you discover your talent for music?
I became self aware of my talent by the time I was 15 even though I had been singing since I turned 11. I sang at a church event then and it was like I knew I touched my destiny. I knew I was going to sing!
Who would you say influenced your love to grow your talent?
My influences are too many... From the old greats, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross to R Kelly, Boys2Men, Joe, Brandy, Chris Brown, Trey Songz etc. They all added to me.
When did you decide to go into music professionally?
I decided to go into music professionally in 2010 when I registered for project fame.
Were your parents supportive of your decision?
My parents were skeptic at first but now they are the most supportive people in my life!
How did you begin as a singer?
Well, I began singing in church at a Baptist church in Kaduna as early as 11 when I was in the children’s choir. It wasn’t long before I started to lead and then other churches invited me and before I knew it I was singing every now and then. I’m so proud my root is from the church and I still use my talent to lead people in worship at my church till date. It keeps me grounded.
Your first single? Tell us how it came about?
My first single, Arewa, was inspired by love. Arewa means beautiful woman. I wrote this song during the project fame competition as my final self composition and till date many listen to it and still get struck by the soul and truth I poured into the lyrics and the melody. If you haven’t heard it google Arewa by Tolu now. (smiles)
Your first stage performance?
I was really young at my first stage performance because I was 11 then but it wasn’t as numbing as singing at the Eagles Square, Abuja, in 2009 at the House on the Rock Jam mega festival where I sang the national anthem.
How have you grown since then?
Like I mentioned earlier I’ve grown in vocal technique and stage craft and understanding of what the Nigerian public wants to hear.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In five years, I want to be world acclaimed. I want to represent Nigeria internationally musically and work with great international acts.
Now you have your own singles. What were the stories behind them?
The new singles #Iam3 is the fruit of my journey so far as I mature and sample perfectly with pop, r and b and afro-pop. #Iam3 is a celebration of talent, value and ideals. It brings together the different experiences and views and beliefs of the brand, Tolu with top notch production by me and great lyrical content.
Gets me up is my first in the line up: It’s like this, everyone has that passion the makes them pump with adrenaline and make them feel like they could have that moment for life. That’s what gets me up is about. Tolu’s greatest passion is his music.
Against all odds and limitations, I thrive off the passion to get better enjoying what I love doing best and satisfying my adoring fans.
Shakara: this is a comical tune but embedded with deep thoughts and meaning as every young passionate guy on their way to achieving their dream always would meet that one girl that makes them want to do more and initially he may not look like what she may consider as perfect. So, when she plays hard ball, usually a young man is tempted to say, “go on play hard ball, I’ll close this deal, get rich then you will find me irresistible and impressive to marry”. Set in sweet and head bumping beats and shakara will be a winner with the clubs and fans of great Nigerian pop.
Never: sad song of regret which many people that have ever had love and lost it due to their disregard for how much love they were given can relate to. Most people have it served on a platter of gold but because they think love will always be there for them. Like they say you don’t know what you have till you lose it.
What kind of music do you do exactly?
I’m sure by now everyone knows I’m versatile so I can say I am 3hree. My music is not one sided.
How do you intend to break into the mainstream of the Nigerian music industry?
How do I intend to break into the industry? Well I’ve started and consistency begat power so I’ll keep churning out hits for my fans!
Any album in sight?
Yeah, 2013 is the year of the Tolu album for sure!
All new Tolu videos from #Iam3 next year by God’s grace.
Fingers crossed on Tiwa Savage, Seyishay and then Skales and M.I...
What challenges have you faced and still face in the industry?
Getting music to the fans is always a challenge but like I said I’m resilient and will keep pushing!
Critics say good music is not appreciated in Nigeria...
Well Nigerians are different listeners there are only few who listen to soulful music like the type a Bez or Asha would do but whatever the case, an artiste should weigh what he is up against and work hard to make a mark.
Do you do popular music or real music?
I do both popular and real music #Iam3 proves that.
Is music a passion or a means to make money?
It’s both for me but first a passion before a means of money..
What other projects are you into?
I’m a vocal tutor or voice coach. I’m a producer so that keeps me equally occupied.
What would you have been if not a musician?
If I wasn’t doing music I’d be in fashion or broadcasting.
I’m not so eccentric when it comes to fashion but a good jacket works every time.
The palms and dominos pizza.
Favourite fashion accessories?
Shoes and watches
What can’t you be found without?
Tell us somthing no one knows about you!
I’m shy around crowds.
Last word to your fans?
To my fans, I can’t do this without you, I love you all and to my ladies.
Friday, 30 November 2012
MAVERICK Nigerian record producer, singer, songwriter and musician, Michael Collins Ajereh better known as Don Jazzy clocked 30, November 26, 2012.
At just 30, the Abia-born music-maker has achieved quite a lot, from working with top artistes abroad including the likes of Snoop Dogg and Kanye West to dropping some of the biggest hits in Nigeria; influencing an entire generation and creating some of the greatest hits of the past seven years.
Starting out in the UK under the tutorship of popular music producer-artiste JJC Skillz, after working with the SOLEK Crew, Don Jazzy later hooked up with a little known D’banj, and traveled back to Nigeria to start Mo’Hits Records.
Co-running the label for eight years, Don Jazzy grew to become one of the few music producers at the top echelon in the music industry, churning out hit upon hit for his label mates – D’banj, Dr SID, D’Prince, Wande Coal and Kay Switch.
And, unlike any other producer before him, he successfully built a powerful brand, using the power of mystery to dazzle many at home and abroad.
Parting with D’banj this year, he went back to the drawing board to rebrand and setup a new label -MAVIN Records comprising former Mo’Hits acts Dr SID, Wande Coal and younger brother D’Prince. In a move that shocked many, he also signed the super-talented singer-songwriter, Tiwa Savage.
His production prowess isn’t the only thing that has made him famous. Don Jazzy’s philanthropic gesture, made popular by Twitter, his audience engagement techniques, and perceived humility have added up to make him a fan favourite.
Despite being in the public eye, he has managed to keep most of his private live private – although there have been (usually unconfirmed and unsubstantiated) rumours of him dating Tiwa Savage and OAP Toolz. He vehemently denies such reports. He does ‘admit’ dating actress Tonto Dike though.
With many now eager to see what the future holds, Jazzy is working with his MAVIN crew to rework the Mo’Hits magic.
If there’s any producer that can point the way to the future of Nigerian pop music, working with a clear understanding of the past and present, that man is Don jazzy.
And, although those close to him say he’s not under any pressure, pundits say the next one year will determine a lot of things: does he still have the monster hit-making formular? Will he perform and release his own music? Will he renew his deal with G.O.O.D. Music? Will he re-unite with D’banj?
Happy Birthday, IDJA.