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It’s wrong to say Nigerian artistes peddle drugs to Malaysia - Ketchup
Onyido Nkemjika Emmanuel, popularly known as Ketchup, is finally back to his country home, Nigeria, having been away for almost three years. In this interview with SEYI SOKOYA, the award winning artiste whose career has continued to be on the rise talks about his career, experience in Malaysia and his take on Nigeria’s entertainment industry. Excerpts:
YOU were in Malaysia for three years before you finally returned. Unconfirmed reports have it that some Nigerian artistes who visit Malaysia peddle drugs to the country. Are you aware of this?
Hahaha, hear gist again. I am hearing this for the first time and I don't believe it is true. It is wrong to say that Nigerian artistes peddle drugs to Malaysia. I believe tourist attraction contributed immensely to the increase in the number of Nigerian artistes who visit Malaysia often. The country is really advanced in technology and trust me, Africans who live there know how to party.
So what happened in Malaysia?
It was a whole new fresh feeling entirely, the experience was awesome. I discovered that Malaysians are pretty nice except for a few but it was a balanced and unforgettable experience at large.
Can you share your unforgettable moments?
Loads of them, but I always remember the day I was moving into my new house and my car was hit from behind by a police man. I had to beg the guy because I was a foreigner and I didn't want any problem at all. I even paid a fine because he said it was my fault.
Do you see yourself as an illegal migrant that you had to beg and pay a fine, despite the fact that you were not at fault?
Trust me, Malaysians can be racist when they want to be. I was a JJC at that time, make the guy come try am now.
Considering your experience, would you love to go back to the country?
Of course I’ll still visit the place if the need arises, it’s a country where my impact was really felt and I am sure that my fans over there will miss me. In fact, before now I used to shuttle between Nigerian and Malaysia, but recently, I have finally decided to stay home and showcase my talent.
Is there any striking difference between Malaysia’s entertainment industry and Nigeria's?
You can't compare Malaysia to Nigeria in terms of entertainment development. Nigeria has gone far. But Malaysia is not doing badly as well. Most of the big guys in Nigeria music industry actually liberated Malaysia. I noticed that Nigeria entertainment industry has really advanced and I am impressed with the development.
At what point did you discover you had the penchant for music?
Many things. The exposure I got from my parents because of their different tribes, plus the different kinds of music I listened to when I was growing up inspired my passion. My parents told me that music served as the only escape route each time they were going through difficult times, so I joined in the trend and got caught up in a little way. I actually started as a dancer. Over the years, I have also come to realise that anything is achievable. Music has taken me to beautiful places. I actually loved mimicking other people's songs when I was in primary school, but I never wrote any of mine until my secondary school days. I became popular among my colleagues and I decided to pursue my dream with an undying passion. At a point in school, when I committed any offence, instead of punishing me, my senior colleagues would ask me to sing and dance.
You were said to have bagged some awards while in Malaysia, how did you go about that?
The awards came as a reward of hard work. Within the years I spent there, I was able to win three awards. I won the best male act, best video and best stage performance awards.
Which genre of music are you comfortable with?
With the regular afro hip hop, traditional music, dancehall and R & B. I love afro hip hop because it makes me flow. It suits my style of music. I have never queried myself on why I have chosen this genre of music.
It is no more a hidden fact that most Nigerian youths now find solace in music in the face of the challenges bedeviling the country but the influx appears to be undermining the growth of the industry, do you believe in this insinuation?
I would say no. The truth is that Nigerian youths are talented. It is a pity that the government has failed to create an enabling environment for us to maximise our potentials. I have met people with mind-blowing ideas but got no government support to make their dreams come through. Second, yes, entertainment is lucrative, there are a whole lot of peeps out there with great talent who want to be heard and since entertainment is also a way to stay out of trouble, they embrace the little opportunity. Every youth wants to be heard. We want people to know that we have got something in us that can shape our future and set our paths straight.
Ketchup is a sweet-and-tangy food sauce, where and how did you get this stage name from?
My friends gave me the name because of the kind of "sweetness" as you say. They say I inject fun into a boring environment when we used to hangout way back. With the release of my first single, “Nuvo”, friends, colleagues and fans recognise me as Ketchup. In fact, most people even call me Ketchy Ketchy or Ketchy Baby these days.
What are the challenges like since you decided to go into music?
We can’t do without challenges. When you leave for an appointment a day before the scheduled time you still don't have the guarantee that traffic won't get in your way. The rest would be the effort to balance being an artiste with my normal life off the screen.
How do you intend to make yourself relevant in the industry?
I sing in Igbo and Yoruba, I presume I am doing well in the industry and practically, above average should be a good reason to stand out. The industry is open to explore gifted talents, I have no doubt that I will go places with my style of music.
Do you think your Igbo and Yoruba style of music will pave the way for you to the front line of the entertainment industry?
I didn’t say so, but check the basics, aside using English as a tool, you need to carry Nigerians along right from the grass root to the white collars. I think I am good to go far.
What is your assessment of Nigerian entertainment industry?
Like I said, we are keeping it 100 per cent, which means that we are really improving. We are giving people what they want and that is the first rule to satisfaction in my book. I see entertainment in Nigeria moving beyond our borders.
How have you been handling your female admires?
Well, I really don't know. Probably those bold enough to show have not come through. Anyhow, I love my female fans and I have been able to handle them through divine wisdom.
Will you marry an entertainer?
No. I want to concentrate more on my career for now and then wait for divine guidance when I get to that stage in the future.
But a scene was posted recently on the social media involving you and a Nollywood actress, Nicolette Ndigwe, what really transpired?
Generally, you know celebrities are always under surveillance, we don't have our privacy. We are in the jet age and everyone has access to post, express his or her view via the social media regardless of how damaging it could be. Within a twinkle of an eye, whatever is posted on the internet is every where and is read by as many people as possible. I was aware of the story too, I think it was on twitter, but then I am not surprised about what people say nor worried over what gets posted, I prefer to remain neutral.