It is not every day you meet a sound god. Meet Benie Macaulay, music producer and sound engineer who has his eyes set on being one of the foremost artistes in Nigeria with a listening audience that cuts across the world. Read below his interview first published in Tush Magazine Issue 15.
Let’s meet you.
I am Benie Macaulay, from Delta State. I am an Isoko boy, from a family of five, of which I am the first child. I studied Computer Science at the University of Benin.
How did you start music production?
I got into music myself, went online, just studied and practiced. Basically anything you want to be now, you can learn from YouTube. I just wanted to make something out of myself. I used to be a rapper then, back in 2010 with some guys in Benin, but that didn’t quite work out, because though they had vision, they just couldn’t execute their plans so when the music thing didn’t happen, I had to look for the next best thing to get myself out there the way I wanted to. So the plan was since I needed money to push my music, I would go into production and then make money and get the respect and the connections from production to push my music. I came to Lagos in 2012 and when I started, I was really into it, trying to make sure I was where I wanted to be within the shortest possible time. So in 2013, I did the first song that got me some attention, it was “8 figures” by Rugged Man ft Reminisce and since then it has been one step after the other and I am still growing.
You said initially the plan was to make money to push the music, so is that still your plan?
No, my plan now is to really take the music beyond what I wanted to do back then. Now, I really want to go even further. I have plans of putting out my own music but that would be next year or the year after that. Already, I am working on some producer-type projects. I have a house-EP out already, I featured a guy Tomi Thomas, and he is really dope. So, I am putting out these EPs to show the kind of music I make. This year, I am doing a trap soul EP then a Reggae EP. I am basically doing all kinds of music. But I am not rapping anymore.
So what kind of music would you be doing when you finally start?
Well, I am interested in capturing the world market so that would be Dance Hall, that can connect with anybody in any part of the world, also, Afro-House, Trap soul. But the music thing is still far. There is still a lot I need to perfect, so right now, I am just focusing on music production, sound engineering and DJ-ing.
When you first came to Lagos to start your music production, how was it like meeting people and getting them to believe in you?
When I came to Lagos, I didn’t know anybody especially in the industry. All I did was just work and the rest of it just happened. I have practically mixed and mastered songs for everybody and within the industry space I got respect and those that know me, know me.
How would you describe your sound?
My sound is worldwide, something you can connect wherever you are, wherever you are from; the kind of music that can cut across different kind of persons. That is one reason why I like Afro-House; it is listened to all over the world. I got a birthday shout-out from a radio station in Australia; apparently, they had been following my sound which was pretty cool. I do trap soul too.
You studied Computer Science and now, you are doing music. How did your family take it?
Well, I have always had the freedom to do what I wanted. My dad would have hoped that, once I was done with Computer Science, one of my uncles would help me get a job in some “oil company” so I could support the family but I didn’t feel like I should take that path. What I am doing right now is what I have always wanted to do and so I am happy about it. I have been able to grow it, and even the support they wanted me to do, I have been able to do it so yeah it is a win-win.
Tell us a little about production. What does it entail?
You have to be very creative. All the work comes from when you are trying to build your skill to a professional level, practicing, learning to play different kinds of instruments which is quite necessary. Learning to work with software, the rest of it is just fun.
Is there no competition in your space, music production?
No, I don’t think so. I feel like everybody has their own sound to offer, because music is very spiritual. Only a Don-Jazzy can give you a Don Jazzy kind of music, only MasterKraft can give you his kind of music, only me can give you my kind of sound.
So, who are those you have worked with?
I have pretty much worked for a lot of people; I have mixed and mastered songs for MasterKraft, a lot of other persons. I just don’t put tags when I mix and master songs so if I don’t tell you, you won’t know. You may just have to go through the press release or something.
What is the difference between sound engineering and music production?
Music production is putting the sounds together creatively, being a sound engineer entails putting the sounds together technically. If you have a song that is well produced but not properly mixed and mastered, it may come out very annoying and crappy. I believe sound engineering is the most important part of the music creation process. If you don’t get that right, the entire process would be a wasted effort. You need to have good ears for listening, you have to know exactly what you are doing, and there is no guessing while mixing.
What happens if an artiste wants one thing and you want another?
Most of the time, artistes usually have an idea of what they want. If it won’t work, you have to make them understand that it won’t work. It is all about satisfying your customers at the end of the day, you have to show them that if it is like this, this is what is going to happen. Also you have to let them hear that it is not good, so if they know that it is not good, that way you are satisfied.
You mentioned earlier that you are also a DJ.
That is still in the works for now; I am not totally a DJ. I am just a DJ when I want to perform my music or when I travel with Uncle Jimmy Jatt. He is my mentor and I work in his studio, I have known him for two years now. I mixed and mastered all his songs in recent times.
What should we be expecting from you this year?
My Trap Soul EP, a lot of songs. I am trying to put out more music so people can understand me and know what I am about as far as the music goes. It is not big, it is just growing, so I want my audience to really see and enjoy the music.
Social Media Handles?
Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook: BenieMacaulay. I am pretty much easy to find.