We had a sit down with the undeniable Father of Alte music – Black Magic on his new body of work titled, ‘ Black Magic 3.0; Starving Artiste.’
The recently released EP follows in the footsteps of the rest of his alternative and eclectic discography. Laced with quirky tunes and the obvious lack of any collaborative effort, it comes after a seven year hiatus.
In a face to face interview, we unpack the ‘repete’ crooner’s philosophy, creative process, family and his predilection to Nigerian awards.
You are considered in some quarters as the Father of Alte music. What’s your take on that?
I mean, am honoured everytime I hear it. I wouldn’t really consider myself an alternative artiste. I mean, I did start, which is the whole point of me doing the music, so I’m glad that I am on the path of achieving the purpose which I found making music, to make people understand that there is more. Nigerian music is not one sound and you can experiment, because that’s more for us. The listener gets more when there is a more diverse sound scape instead of just one sound, dance, dance, dance. There should be other types of music, so that’s what I tried to achieve by slowing down the music and then everybody caught on too and realized that oh you know we can do it differently and it can still work. So I am happy, I’m honoured every time I hear that.
What’s the philosophy behind the Black Magic 3.0; Starving Artiste.?
Yeah, I mean it best describes the body of work that I put together and it’s a collection of my experiences, my story. A starving artiste is somebody who lets go, sacrifices material well-being for the sake of their art and that’s how I am. All I care about is the art and I make all this sacrifices to make sure that my art is the way it is. Also the name is kind of a topic for the heading for the body of work as it contains my whole journey, my pains and my struggles.
The album was low on collaborations except for Tems, was that an intentional move?
Yeah, I mean, Tems is one of the many artists who in the past couple of years really inspired me. I really heard it and it was fresh and different, you know. The album is more like the documenting of my personal journey so for me it’s always the music first. There wasn’t really anybody who fit what I was trying to do exactly. So let’s let the music speak. If the music demanded somebody else, I would have worked with that person.
So what were you trying to say with ‘Soon’, the first track on the album?
So the whole album is kind of a journey. Soon refers to everybody asking ‘Oh Black Magic, when is the album dropping, when are you coming back?’ and I am like ‘Soon’ and just using that state of mind, it’s like anxiety when you can’t wait for something to happen you say ‘oh my God when’s it happening?’ and you say soon. That’s why the chorus goes ‘waiting for the sunlight, waiting for the moonlight.’ ln the sunlight people are waiting for the moonlight, in the moonlight there are people waiting for the sunlight. So everybody is on a cycle of waiting for something.
So what’s your ideal project or collaboration? If you had to collaborate with anybody – locally or International, who would it be?
Right now, I would love to do a song with Asa and Wande Coal, and I know I will make that happen but it has to be special.
If you had enough influence to change anything about Nigeria, what would it be exactly?
I would change our value system. We are a cash-based society, everything is for sale. And if money is priority that’s why idiots can rule and idiots can be in powerful places. Because money holds the greatest value which shouldn’t be the case, you know. Ideas should rule, ideas rule the world. So if you’re in a place where ideas are not valued, somebody can have a great idea that benefits the whole society but because somebody else has money and is pushing a stupid agenda. People will take the money and support the stupid agenda as opposed to supporting the idea that’s going to benefit everybody.
There’s something called social media anxiety, that’s the need to portray yourself in a particular way. So when you don’t come on social media, does that affect you as a person?
Controlling your narrative is controlling your affairs. I’ve never really been a super public person. I mean I know I’m an artist but there’s a way I like to express my thoughts. I don’t like to put my thoughts out there for any idiot to just be able to say something to me. So I am very conservative with the way I use it.
But as an artist is that not what your fans want? To engage with the music?
Yeah, it’s in the music. So my messages are in the music. Social media is all that extra stuff that doesn’t need to. So you listen to the music and you hear my messages. I put them in there, that’s the way it’s supposed to be.
What’s your creative process? How do you come up with a song? Do you produce it alone; do you like to gather creatives around you? What’s your process? How do you write a song?
I mean it depends from song to song. It’s not one creative process. First of all I just need to be in the mood, in the flow. If I am trying to make a song, sometimes the instrumental comes before the song, sometimes the song idea comes and then I make an instrumental to it. Sometimes an idea that makes me wants to write a song. Basically what am I trying to do? It’s a feeling, I am always trying to harness a feeling or communicate a feeling. That’s what it’s about.
When was the last time you spoke to a family member?
At least every week I talk to my brother and my mum.
If you write a song and your mother says not to put out that particular song, what would be your reaction?
She’s done that actually. ‘I don’t like this, ‘why did you say this?’ I don’t listen to her, everybody is going to have something to say but as long as I believe in what I’m saying.
What’s your take on awards in Nigeria? Do they affirm your creativity or are they just a PR tool?
Nigeria is not really a merit-based society. I feel lucky when I get an award you know but I wouldn’t feel unlucky if I didn’t get an award, because anybody can buy an award, so why should I value it if it’s given to me. I mean, if it’s given to me, no problem there. I’ll thank you but if I don’t get it, it doesn’t change anything. It’s just a word of value here. I believe in my own thing am doing and am great at it and that’s all the reputation I need just the fans.