There is a saying that goes thus; ‘there is no hiding place for the golden fish.’ – That exactly describes 19 year old Efe Oraka, a Nigeria talented musical artist who has been recognized on a global scale for her incredible talent.
In this interview with Tush Magazine, she discusses her journey so far and her future plans.
Who is Efe Oraka?
Efe is actually the short form of Eferoghene, so I’m Eferoghene Oraka. I’m from Delta state but I was born in Lagos. I’m from a pretty big family – I have 8 siblings with me being the fourth child and the third female. I lived in Lagos for about 6 years then moved around a lot because my dad was in the Navy.
Do you have childhood memories moving around?
I really can’t remember much of my childhood but I remember I used to watch TV a lot and I was very fond of watching Sound of Music, Lion King, Disney cartoons and anything that had music in it. I even used to watch Indian movies just because of the music in them. I was pretty obsessed with the life music brought to things. My parents were in the choir, so they played lots of Christian music in the house and I remember bonding with my dad a lot over music.
For school, I had pre-school and nursery here in Lagos while my primary school was everywhere because we moved a lot. I remember we moved to Kaduna then back to Lagos, moved to Port Harcourt and then back to Lagos again and then Abuja.
When did music start for you?
When I was four, my mum made me join the children choir in church and that was when it started for me. I was involved with music activities in school then but it was not until I was 9 that I decided this was what I was going to do. I remember talking to my parents about it and they thought I was crazy but on my eleventh birthday, I asked for a guitar which they got for me and I started learning how to play and also started writing my own songs. I went to the studio a couple of times and when I showed my parents what I could do, they were quite impressed and got on board as long as it doesn’t interfere with my school work.
What is so fascinating about the guitar that made you request for it out of all musical instruments?
The reason why I started playing guitar was because I had been writing songs and I wasn’t comfortable just singing songs without any accompaniment. I wasn’t really keen on the guitar like that but I remembered watching Asa’s Fire on the Mountain video with the whole still setting and she was playing her guitar with so much happiness; watching that video made me loved the guitar more.
Aside Asa, do you have any other musical influences?
Yes I do. I remember our driver at the time used to jam 2Face’s album when taking us and bringing us back from school. I listened to a lot of rap too because of my brother – Lil Wayne and Eminem. When I started listening to music on my own, it was more of Maroon 5, Pink, Avril Lavigne, Beatles and The Carpenters.
You started going to the studio at a young age, when did you have your first major studio work?
That would be when I was about 12; I recorded a 9 –track album titled The Beginning. I had thought the way it works was record a couple of songs, put out an EP or album and then you ‘blow’. It was also the time Justin Bieber was coming up and I was hoping to be the Justin Bieber of Nigeria but sadly it didn’t happen – it was a learning experience for me.
What happened after?
There was a time lapse. School obviously came in and I was also discouraged things didn’t work. I focused more on school and when I was about 15 or 16, I recorded ‘Omalicha’ and ‘Gbemi’. In between the time lapse, I was trying to find out exactly what I wanted to do with music but by the time I released those two tracks, people started asking for more works and since I wasn’t really comfortable with what I had released, I started doing covers to other peoples’ songs. Right now, I am currently working on my new project called ‘Magic’ and I have an official single off the project out called ‘Wonderland’.
What has being your experience so far in the Nigerian music scene?
I would say I have been very fortunate. I have people around me who guide me and make plans for me.
I have worked some big names and they had so much advice to give me.
How did you react to Jon Bellion’s recognition of your cover to his song?
Oh yeah. I remember that day very well. I was in my dad’s room around 2 am when I checked my phone because it had been buzzing for a while and seeing the mentions made me scream so loudly; I started hyperventilating and my dad asked for water to calm me down. My dad doesn’t know who Jon Bellion was, so the closest person I could mention was Beyonce and he was super excited. For close to 2-3 weeks, I was on a high and nobody could bring me down. It was really an amazing.
Why aren’t you studying a Music related course in the University?
My love for law stems from the fact that I am a woman and I live a third world country that is patriarchy and misogynistic so I feel I need to be educated and sound enough to help women who are going through stuffs. Everyone goes through stuffs but women here are going through a lot and having a background in law would really help out. Even with my music, I have written songs that have to do with females and women struggles.
How do you balance both?
It has been really hard but they are two things I truly want so I would have to find a way for both of them to work even if it means me not sleeping.
What are your long-term future plans?
I just want to keep making music as much as I can, the goal is to be timeless and also master my craft so well. I want to have the full experience, write songs for other people, be able to play every instrument I ever picked up.
Culled from Issue 19