Monday, December 15, 2014

Exclusive Interview #3: Unwrap your Christmas Gift!

It’s ten days to Christmas guys, and I honestly can’t wait! To be back home with my family, digging into some amazing food, juicy gossip and banging music is definitely going to bring me such joy this Christmas. So I thought what is the best way to share some of my Christmas joy with my readers? Well, you guys are in for a treat! What are you waiting for? Go unwrap your Christmas present!

A couple of months back I was watching Gidi Up and the characters attended a friends open mic performance. As soon as their friend started preforming, I was transfixed. I loved the sound, the lyrics, and the cherry on the top was the fact this young man was playing a guitar! I quietly enjoyed his music, playing the few minutes of his performance over and over again. Flash-forward to a few months later, I see on YouTube that Ndani partnered with him to release a video for Valentine's Day using the song that I placed on repeat. At this point I was too excited! I told all my friends about this gem, Bemyoda.

I proceeded to check out where he had more of his music and found his Soundcloud page, click here. I fell in love with his music and I knew I had to reach out to him. Luckily for me and you, I have had the absolute pleasure of interviewing Bemyoda. With all my interviews, I usually construct a piece from it. However this time around, I felt that the interview would be better left in its original form. Check out Bemyoda's interview, I hope you enjoy it! Merrry Christmas!

1.     Where in Nigeria are you from?

Im from Benue State, my dad is. My mum is from Kogi State.

2.     How did you grow up? What was life like?

Id say it was pretty simple. I remember playing with my siblings a lot, but I generally was a reserved kid. I was the typical bookworm. My dad started to take my elder sister and I to the state library when I was about 7 or 8, and we read as much as we could handle. By the time I got into secondary school, books had a firm hold on me. My family moved a bit because of my dads job. We lived in Enugu and Owerri, but most of my growing up years I spent in Makurdi.

3.     Where did you go to school and University? What did you study?

I studied Civil Engineering at the Federal University of Technology, Minna, Niger State. And yes, I feel like a contradiction.

4.     What inspired you to become a musician?

‘‘I dont think that I ever had this super amazing dream to be a singer. I think it was more like a journey to realisation. I wrote my first song when I was about fourteen, and then I got into one choir or group or the other from then on. I actually never seriously saw myself singing by myself outside of a group. Maybe because I was too timid to even entertain such a thought. I think I came to the realisation that I could do it by myself after my friend/group member died. At that point I had to decide whether to give it all up or to go ahead by myself.

5.     How do you describe your style of music? Do you write and or produce your songs?

Theres a lot of Folk influence in my work. I like the simplicity of Folk. Theres also some Jazz and Soul influence as well. Ive written all the songs Ive put out so far. The first song I tried a collaboration on was No No, one of the songs on my EP, Sketch. I wrote the first verse and then co-wrote the second with my friend Adebola Rayo. Overall, I thought it turned out good.

I have good enough ideas of how I want most of my work to sound, but I wont call myself a producer. I worked very closely with Atta Lennell on most of the songs on Sketch. Hes one producer who gets me, and Im usually not worried about whether or not hell interpret my music the right way.

6.     Why the name Bemyoda?Is that your actual name?

    “My names Bem Iordaah. Iordaahs pronounced yoda. I just took that and joined it up with my first name. So, Bemyoda is both my name and surname together.

7.     How long have you been in the Industry? How did your journey begin?

   "I dont know that Im in the industry like that yet. But Ive been singing unofficially for at least 10 years now. After years of having my father sing with and teach us kids songs during devotion I got into a group called All for Him as a teenager. It was a Christian youth group based in Makurdi. It was there I actually started to do any real singing. Then I got into a trio called Project X with Peter Adole and Terver Akindigh. After that I got into a choir in university called The Living Vessels, and Ive been in a couple choirs since then. The last group I was in was the one with my late friend Daniel Newking. We didnt have a name yet at the time he died. Hes the one I wrote the tribute song Always for.

8.     Have you received any formal vocal training?

    “No I havent. I will, but I havent yet.

9.     Considering that quite a few Nigerians seem to cling to Afrobeats, how are you finding the ability to push your music in Nigeria?

The easiest answer to that question is only one. Its tough here. Ive had well-meaning people advise me to conform, but I dont think I can. Id rather not sing than have to force myself to be what Im not. Ive also had people advise me to focus on the larger world market where my work will be better appreciated, and Id say thats what Im working towards. I dont mean that there are no people in Nigeria who appreciate what I do, but its such a small niche audience. Were working still anyways.

10.   How was it working with Ndani TV? I see you have an Ndani Session with them and your song featured on Gidi Up.

It was mostly fun, in fact, besides the long hours, it was all fun. Plenty of laughter, plenty of takeswe had to shoot the same scenes over and over and over until the crew was satisfied. Those few minutes that made it on the show took many hours to create. The whole experience made me respect filmmakers more though. Their work requires a high level of attention to detail and a lot of dedication.

                                             (Listen from 20 minutes in)

11.  What would you say is the craziest thing that has ever happened to you?

Craziest bad thing or craziest good? Ive jumped out of a plane before. I dont know if that qualifies as a thing that happend to me. I took my sane self there, paid, and only thought about what I was doing when the plane took off.

12.  Do you have a special someone in your life right now?

   Bemyoda cheekily declined to answer. Don’t worry guys, I’ll get the truth out of him soon enough.

13.  You are young and have achieved a quite a lot, whats next for you? New album, new video, concert?

Theres so much to do. I really dont think Ive done any thing yet. Ive spent the past year working on my album and I recorded most of it in the past few months. Thats the biggest project Im working on right now. Im also working at putting out a few videos early next year.

14.  Where can people get hold of your music apart from Soundcloud? Can they see you perform?

Its mostly on Soundcloud and my website right now. At the moment Im more in Lagos than anywhere else.” (I'll keep you guys updated on any future shows) 

15.  If you had the chance to do a feature with a Nigerian Artist, who would it be and why?

Id love to work with Brymo, and Asa, and Seal and Sade. Brymo because I like his sound and emotion, Asa because shes just special, and Seal and Sade because they are simply classic.

16.  Are you an independent artiste, or are you signed to a label. If so which one? If not, why not?

Im not signed to a label, not yet. Ive been approached a couple times by Nigerian labels, but it didnt seem like the right fit. Its good that people want to partner with you so you all can all make money, but there are also values that you stand by that you want the people you work with to at least respect and not try to change just for the sake of business.

17.  What is your favourite song on your EP and why?

“‘Always. Its a tribute song to my friend Daniel Newking as I said earlier. We were a duo and were planning to start recording songs when he had an accident and passed away. We only got to perform once together. But he was such an amazing friend and singer.

18.  What is your message for any Nigerian artist trying to make it in the Industry?  

I think that everyone trying to do something, anything, needs to believe that their work can and will make a difference. There are a lot of naysayers, and sometimes even we ourselves can be doubtful, but there must be something, somewhere inside, a depth of faith that isnt easily displaced. I think.

I am in love with Bemyoda, arent you? 
Hes so honest and open. If you want to get more frequent updates, click on the links below!

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