When it comes to delivering mind-blowing and energetic performance, Ekiti State-born singer, Niniola Apata, sure fits into the list of artistes whose creativity second to none. Niniola who first came to prominence after participating in music reality show, MTN Project Fame, spoke to MUTIAT LAWORE about the role of government in the entertainment industry, impression of the industry among other issues excerpts:
You sing mostly in your local dialect, don’t you think you are limiting your audience?
Not at all because I am proud of my language, the same language that has taken me this far in the industry and that is why in South Africa my song ‘ Maradona’ is been heard globally and it’s in Yoruba. When other countries’ songs which are not in English gain prominence in the Nigerian market, we embrace them; so in essence I am proud of my language as it is also a way to sell myself and my country at the same time by being very original.
Talking about global reach, when you recorded your popular song ‘Maradona’, did you ever envisage it will be widely accepted?
At the point of recording the song, my team, including my producer, was excited in the studio because from the production stage, we knew it was a good song but we never envisaged its widespread acceptance but in all we give thanks to God Almighty. I can tell you that whenever I am performing the song, I see how blessed I am with the way the audience relates with the song; we have been able to win a lot of people to the brand Niniola. It will interest you to know that when I travelled out of the country, I was amazed to the way people could sing the song from beginning to the end with excitement.
The Nigerian music has grown over time; what role do you think stakeholders, artistes, producers among others need to play to help the industry grow?
First is the issue of piracy which has eaten deep into the system and hindering the growth and development we so desire; the government which is made up of individuals need to intervene. For instance if someone like you and me would not just pick up an artiste’s intellectual property (album) and put it up for free internet download, it will help the artiste and further encourage the artiste because the entertainment industry in general is capital intensive. If the government can join hands in fight against piracy, this will equally help artistes to work hard and put out good songs.
Where do you draw the line between commercial music and what is called good music?
There are a lot of classification even when it comes too genres of music, I don’t see it as that. It’s just like when you say a black man or white man, life is life; so for me I just feel good, If I hear the beat, I love it, if strikes a chord and my soul, then it’s good music. That is the reason music has no language and why we listen to South African songs and love them and vice versa.
Having been around in the industry, what is your impression about it generally?
It’s just made me realise that there is a lot to the music industry than people see from the outside. Before I came in, I always thought that I can sing, I have talent, just enter and sing and everybody will look at you and dance, but when I came in I realised that wasn’t it and thank God that Project Fame gave me my prize money and in my mind I was like did they really give me this money? Because I had heard stories of what happens when people go for competitions. But they gave me and I invested that money in my career.
Are you saying that without that money then, you would not have gone this far?
You can’t do anything without money because I remember I dropped a song ‘ Ibadi’ which was my debut single and I did not have money to shoot the video until the end of the same year and that was not really good because people had already embraced the audio well. At the end of the day, money is key to any artiste to growing in an industry like ours.
When you say you invested in your career, what aspect did you invest in?
It was total package including my voice; I still enroll for song writing courses online because I make sure I keep improving on my art. If had been told I could grow and begin to write my songs all alone, I won’t believe until during the days in Project Fame Academy when you have to sing other artistes’ cover songs and then it got to a point when you had to perform your own personal composition; that was when I got to that crossroads and I was like ‘Nini, you have to do this.’ So I wrote a song titled’ Itura’ and on the show, producers were not comfortable as they insisted the song was too deep but I liked it and needed someone to speak for me and Cobhams Asuquo stood for me and said a writer has the liberty to tell a story the way he/ she wants it, and deep inside me I applauded myself for job well done
There is this full energy whenever Niniola is on stage; are you under the influence of anything?
First, it is usually with clear eyes; if I drink, my body system will knock out because I have a very light head; so in a nutshell, I don’t drink nor smoke. The energy comes naturally especially when I see that my audience connects so well with the music. A lot of people know I love to dance and ‘shake body’; it’s Oyinbo that calls it twerking but in Nigeria its gbon gbon.
With artistes rushing out to release songs; how conscious are you when it comes to your lyrical choices?
When I’m in the studio I make sure there is no pressure whatsoever; I try as much as possible not to have the feeling of wanting to outdo another person. I’m just there in the studio, I relax myself in the music and in that time; whatever comes out I pray to God to make sure that it makes a lot of sense. I am super conscious of my lyrics even though most of the time we are eager to release a hit songs.