When the 2016 ball got rolling, it already looked good for beautiful songstress SAEON. She released visuals to her song titled Dé Bè where she originally featured rapper, YCEE. The video is a remix to the song and is a cypher featuring AT, POE, OZONE, TESH CARTER, EVA and again, YCEE. Tush Magazine’s Winifred Ononikpo caught up with SAEON and she opens up about her music, her personal struggles to shedding more light on her current buzzing single – Dé Bè and sharing her aspiration for 2016. Read excerpts from the interesting session below
For the benefit of your non-Yoruba speaking fans, what does Dé Bè mean and what’s the message in the song?
Saeon: Dé Bè in literal translation means “get there”. That is reach there, be successful, make it. I just had this whole idea for Dé Bè to motivate people; I wanted it to be a movement, something larger than life, something bigger than just what it was. The message in the song apart from getting there is just to tell everyone who supports Moruda and everyone in general never to quit. To keep pushing, keep growing, learn from mistakes till you get to where you want to get; that you can only be yourself and you’re the best version of you and you don’t have to do stuff other people are doing or try to be another person as you’ll only be pushing their own brand and not yours. Have your own blueprint and even if anyone steals it they wouldn’t execute it like you would. So the power is in you and that for me is what Dé Bè means.
What is the inspiration behind the song?
Saeon: The song came to me last year or even the year before but it was in English and I never completed it. I had just come out of some personal thing; I kind of quit music. I lost my zeal to make music last year because of the whole music stress. It was becoming more stressful and I was losing love theI had for music, I was just going to continue with my degrees. But I went home, spoke with my parents, prayed and just found the motivation again. I went through a rebirth and rebranding process and now I just want to do me and not what is dictated to me or what I feel the industry needs.
Was there any particular reason you chose to feature YCEE on this song?
Saeon: Last year I was working and spending nights in the studio and I came across Ycee’s CONDO and I was just like “damn, that’s the song that I’m going for with this song that I had in mind”. So I bought the track off iTunes and listened to it about 500 times. That day I reached out to Ycee on Instagram and said I love the song, then he replied thank you and that’s how we started talking. Then I said to my producer, JahBoy, let’s start working on something from scratch and I decided to revisit the song, change it, put some Yoruba in it and spice it up a little bit and before we knew it, we had just aced it.
At the beginning of Dé Bè whose stats did you mention?
Saeon: They’re my stats. I did that because I needed to draw people in and let them know I am confident in who I am right now.
You released a cypher video for Dé Bè at the beginning of this New Year where you featured 6 rappers including YCEE again. In 2016 are we going to witness more collaboration, singles or both?
Saeon: Absolutely. Yeah singles, because I want people to know that I can do it. I’ve put out a lot of collaborations in the past and I have put out singles but they haven’t been really strong singles. For me they were strong, they were absolutely great, but I guess the market wasn’t used to that kind of music yet so it didn’t resonate. Who knows, now they’ve heard Dé Bè people might go and research and find more stuff and be like “oh I didn’t know Saeon, she actually did that”. But now I’m doing a lot of singles so that I can further establish myself and yes, I’m doing a couple of collaborations too.
Dé Bè was quite a hit. Why didn’t you drop an official video instead of a cypher?
Saeon: I’m still trying to see how things are. Initially I wasn’t too keen on doing an official video just because I felt I was gonna push it as best as I can. The cypher is out and it’s still very fresh. People are still just knowing about it and still getting onto it. I’m going to watch how the industry and the consumers react to it before I make my next move. I felt like Dé Bè is a cypher type of thing, I felt like it needed more artists on it. I felt like I just wanted to spark up a Dé Bè 2.0, 3.0; I felt like it had a message for everyone and I had dreams many artists would be on it and even though right now I haven’t realized those dreams, I still believe it is going to happen. I had dreams M.I, Sasha P, Vector, Olamide, Reminisce, would be on it. Like a whole bunch of people just coming and hopping on the track cos it’s that good and it just sends the whole message of motivation. I thought about it being a cypher and just sparking this hip-hop cypher culture in Nigeria and that’s why I reached out to Ycee, Eva Alordiah, AT, Ozone, Poe and Tesh Carter.
Are you dropping an album this year?
Saeon: I’m working on a mixtape. It’s called The Birth of the BoyChick. That’s my way of saying tomboy; everybody says tomboy but I say boychick. I like to make up words. Boychick is going to be me incorporating some more of my rap with some singing too. It centers on my experience in the industry; my rise, fall and eventual rise again and my eventual reinstatement of victory.
Since you came into the industry there has been a switch in persona between tomboy, or boychick as you say, and girly girl. What exactly is the reason behind the switch?
Saeon: Before, the whole girly and sexy diva thing was dictated to me or I just felt I’m growing into a lady; I need to be a lady. But I’m a tomboy at heart. At the end of the day people say “Saeon has a good physique, Saeon is sexy” but I really have never known what to do with my sexy. It has never come to me as a second nature. If I were sexy on stage I’ll be worried about how I look and not worried about my performance. But now that I’ve let go of the heels, weaves, heavy makeup, I’m just more confident and comfortable.
What will you say has been the highlight of your music career so far?
Saeon: I think it was just when I woke up and decided to start again. I think the dying to self literally happened and it just makes me liken myself to an Eagle. Every Eagle has a lifespan of about 40 years then they go through a rebirth process and if they are able to come out of that process they can live for another 35 years. During that rebirth process they isolate themselves and pull out their talons, pluck out their feather with their beak and then knock out their beak and everything starts to grow again from scratch. You can imagine how excruciating that is. I feel like I went through all of that pain from the past and became fresh and ready.
What will you say has changed about you between the inception of your career and now?
Saeon: I have definitely learned a lot; the industry has schooled me. I’m grateful for the schooling because it’s part of what made me die to self and rise again. When I first came, I had a different philosophy about the industry based on hearsay. I didn’t take my time to understand it, so everything was a learning process; I was learning on the job and I believe I’ve made all the mistakes that I need to make. My philosophy, approach to the industry, personal life and myself have changed. It’s been a great learning experience and I cannot wait to unveil the true Saeon which I have been starving people of for a bit. This is not a gimmick or a façade. This is just who I am.
What’s your take on the industry particularly in terms of beef?
Saeon: To me, I feel beef is very interesting. I didn’t come in with beef for anybody but then I got sucked into it. I started to compare other people’s achievements and the moment I realized that, I decided to change because at the end of the day, people achieve what is due to them whether you think they deserve it or not because they worked, they’ve done something to get it. Just because its not your time now doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be your time in future. Everyone has their rise and fall moment; a reign and stop reigning moment so beef is just a negative thing. We just allow the devil to use us to be honest because there’s no reason you should not be happy for another person’s success. But in the industry because of the way people come about their success sometimes a lot of people tend to feel robbed of what belongs to them and feel like its unfair but if you stop focusing on that and start focusing on making yourself a better person or best version of you there is, then you increase your value and whatever is going to those people will come to you.
Who and who would you consider your friends in the industry?
Saeon: I have allies. I’ve definitely made a couple of friends – everyone on the cypher, I talk to Vector often, Reminisce, the EME crew, my label mates. I don’t have a large circle of friendship in the industry but when I see people we say hey, we’re cordial. But it is very few people I’ve sat down with and had a heart to heart conversation with.
You have quite the radio voice. Have you ever considered being an OAP?
Saeon: A lot of people have said “oh Saeon you have a good talking voice”. I feel like I need to focus on the music and the artistry but this year some weeks ago, I was having a conversation with my family and they suggested doing something else but you can’t mess with the brand and thrive. But who knows, if the opportunity comes I will probably try it; but till then.
You set a trend of producing merchandize after dropping singles. Is merchandizing your way of giving back to fans?
Saeon: Its something I like to do but it’s a long term project. On the long run, I definitely want to make a living off it because I feel like I’m selling a brand and my brand is going strong such that the Morudans and everyone who supports me will want to buy stuff that I make just because I’ve touched them in a way. For now its giving back, its promotional, but its for the future.
You call your fans “MORUDANS”. How did you coin that title?
Saeon: Its my last stage name. its from Boogie Down. I go “sexy mama Saeon mo rude ah” and I played it from my phone and it sounded like “Saeon moruda” but it sounded like a last name, like Nicki Minaj, Jason Derulo, Saeon Moruda. So everyone who follows Moruda is a Morudan and everyone who roots for me, who raps with me is a Morudan.
You can connect with Saeon to keep updated on her many moves: twitter.com/saeonmusic, instagram.com/saeonmusic