Nansel Ofariegba Sunday Nimyel, known professionally as Zdon Paporrella, is a Nigerian musician, record producer, songwriter, TV presenter and PR consultant. He has two albums – Experience da Zee (released in 2006) and Call Me Zdon (2007), and several singles to his credit. In this interview with TONY OKUYEME, Zdon, who has a BSc and MSc in Business Administration from National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), talks about his latest single, Religion of Love, his passion for music, why he is not in a hurry to release an album, and other issues
You are a musician, record producer, songwriter, TV presenter and PR consultant. How do you combine all of these successfully?
The three are intricately linked so it’s really not much of a problem most times. Sometimes it can be overwhelming cause of time constraints. Effective planning and scheduling are key strategies to maintain a balanced approach.
In 2005, you released your debut single titled ‘Na U’, which earned you a nomination in the category of R&B song of the year at the first ever Nigeria Music Awards UK in 2006. What really inspired the single, ‘Na U’? There’s really no backstory to ‘Na U’ contrary to popular belief. I wrote lyrics to a love song, recorded and released it. By God’s grace it hit and the rest like they say is history.
Would you say that it was successful?
It was very successful in my opinion. You release a song today and it’s playing on radio stations across the country in a week with no effort from the label. A few months later you’re on business class flying to London as a nominee with all expenses paid. I’m not an ingrate, so yes I’m grateful to God for the success of that song. But ‘Nonsense’ is my biggest song yet though.
How has it been since then?
It has been a rewarding journey for the better part. I had to pause briefly to focus on my academic pursuits and other interests.
Do you have any hobbies or interests outside of music?
I love to watch movies and read.
What strengths do you have that you believe make you a great musician?
In the past, passion would’ve been my response but right now, it’s purpose.
Do you have any weaknesses that you’re actively working to improve on?
Sure, I’m human, even though I won’t share. However, each day I strive to be a better human than I was the day before.
Which instrument is your favorite to play and why?
I love the guitar cause the sound it produces when strummed rightly, has a lot of soul.
So, which instrument is your least favorite and how do you make sure you play it well?
The violin is a challenging instrument to play. I have a lot of respect and admiration for violinists. Honestly, I won’t even try.
What is it about music that makes you feel passionate?
I would say the consistent deep connection to the art form itself. My passion for it is unwavering.
Describe your favorite and least favorite part about being a musician.
My favorite part would be the privilege to pursue passion and purpose. My least favorite part is the pressure and bad energy that comes with fame.
Describe your creative process when you write new songs.
Most times, the melody comes to me and I write lyrics to it. I build from there. I would sometimes have inspiration for the instrumental and start making it with my mini studio setup at home.
Who’s your ideal musician to collaborate with and why?
In Nigeria, I would say Cohbams Asuquo. I love how his mind works musically. I also love the lyrical content of his songs. The man is a gift to the craft. It would also be an Honourable to collaborate with Asa, Femi Kuti, Johnny Drille and Burnaboy. Internationally, if I even had the chance to meet and work with Bono (U2 Band) or even be in the same creative space with him, that would amazing.
What inspired you to start playing and making music?
I would say my mother’s love for music was my biggest inspiration. She inspired me.
Are there any musicians who inspire you?
What qualities do you admire about them? I love Femi Kuti’s energy and stage craft. My all time favorite musician and inspiration is the late legendary Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson was music personified. I doubt anyone would ever do it like he did. He transcended time. Bono (U2) is another big inspiration for me. His music is life.
What qualities do you think make a great musician?
Creativity, stagecraft, consistency and the ability to evolve with the ever changing times.
How would you describe the music that you typically create?
From a lyrical and mood perspective, I would describe my music now as food for the mind and soul.
If you could go open a show for any artist who would it be?
Bono and the U2 Band
How do you feel the Internet has impacted the music business?
The internet has impacted the music business positively in so many ways. Promotion and distribution which are two key elements in the music business are now conveniently available and accessible to indie artists. Anybody can make and sell music now from any part of the world.
What is your favourite song to perform?
I love my new single ‘Religion of Love’ and look forward to performing it to audiences across the globe.
If you could change anything about the industry, what would it be?
If I had the power to change anything, It would be to ensure that Nigerian musicians get all their dues in royalties, respect and appreciation.
What kind of singer would you classify yourself as?
The humanitarian and humanistic kind.
What is your take on the Nigerian music industry today?
The growth of the internet has ushered in significant improvements and advancements in various aspects like I mentioned earlier. It is nice to see the likes of Femi Kuti, Davido, Burnaboy, Whizkid, Tems, Yemi Alade, Tiwa Savage and others win international accolades including the Grammys. However we’re still a long way from Uhuru.
What’s your process for dealing with performance anxiety?
I just breathe, tell myself that I’ll give my best no matter what happens. I step on stage and do my thing. Your latest single, ‘Religion of Love’, which video is trending seriously has continued to attract positive attention.
What is the inspiration behind it?
Purpose inspired it. Besides being a Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Ambassador, I hold a personal ambition to use my resources and skills including my passion for music to make a positive impact on society. I’m not even selling this song in particular so long as it is used or consumed for personal purposes. For commercial intent or purposes, then we will need to talk business.
Was it drawn, in part, from personal experience? How?
Yes, I’ve had some personal experiences but my music often is inspired not only by personal experiences but events that occur around me. I’m very attentive to news and events locally and globally. The song touches on several issues – religion, politics, love and philanthropy.
What really is the major message?
The core message is love. Earth would be a mini heaven if we loved each other. “Spread love not hate” is the core message.
What genre of music would you call this?
You can categorize it as world or global music
After this, what next?
Many more like this would be released I promise. I won’t leave my fans hanging again.
When should we expect an album?
I’m not in a hurry to release an album. My focus right now is to make good music that inspires and impacts one track at a time. When the need arises for an album, then I would gladly do so.