The Socialista exclusive; Timaya

“I WANT MY MUSIC TO BE BIG LIKE GANGNAM STYLE”

ENETIMI ALFRED ODON better known as Nigerian artist Timaya, the man behind the hits Bum Bum, Ukwu and Plantain boy was in Stockholm for his European tour. I sat down with him at the VIP and Press mingle at Urkraft before his show at En Arena.

Welcome and thank you for taking this time with us, Mr Timaya. Do you know anything about Sweden?
– I’ve heard a lot about Sweden, it’s a nice place for sure.

Were you surprised to hear that you have such a large fan base in Sweden?
– I’m not surprised, because I travel to countries like America which 14 hours away and another 5 hours to the Caribbean and that is quite far. Sweden is only six hours from Nigeria so it’s not as far for example Australia. Australia was beautiful but so far away, it felt like the end of the world. Places like Cambodia, where I don’t think many artists have been to. I go went there and was surprised to see how many people come to my show. People loved it and they were enjoying it.

The artist, who grew up in Port Harcourt the youngest of 15 children, started his music career as backup vocalist for the Remedies, a Nigerian hip hop group. He spent three years with the group and later he decided to leave the group to work on his solo career. As a solo artist Timaya has found major success and is today one of the most famous people in the African music industry.

His first hit record Dem mama, was released in 2006 and is said to have been about the destruction of river side community Odi in 1999. Timaya´s first album True Story was released in 2007 and his second album Gift and Grace in 2008. The same year he won multiple awards two of which were; Album of the year and Best reggae/dancehall album.

You have become a household name within the African music industry, what goals do you have for your music?
– I want my music to be big like Gangnam style, I love that and I want that kind of thing. So to me it’s just the beginning, I have not even started yet. I have this goal that I’m aiming for. The day I saw Rihanna bumping to my song at a show in Barbados was up there. We spoke a bit before my performance, she asked me what I do and I told her I was an artist and that I went under the name Timaya. I like to let my music speak for itself, I don’t like to talk and try to push myself onto people. Then they called me up on stage and I performed Bum Bum, and she was like; that’s him! Oh my God, I love this song. I have been dancing to this song and I didn’t realise that was him. And then I did Sanko and she said she knew that song as well. This guy is good. But I am not stopping there. I’m going to continue to work hard because that’s all it takes; Hard work.

With being so successful, how do you stay grounded?
– For me it is all about being happy and being myself. To be original you have to be yourself, you cannot be looking at other people and measuring yourself with them because then you will never be happy. My biggest competition is me. When I released Bum Bum and it became so successful my goal was to beat that song. The it was Sexy Ladies, and it beat it. And after that it was Sanko and it beat that song. A brother concurs. And now my mission is to beat Sanko. So my main competition is me.

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Your latest album Epiphany was released in 2015, when can we expect the next one?
– I don’t think I will be releasing any more albums. Albums don’t do as good for artists any longer, therefore I prefer to drop singles. They go faster and are bigger and better. With albums it is tricky because the marketer can just sell all the songs and make his money back and he is good. He doesn’t have to do the work behind, like distribution and all of that. So I think singles are better. I don’t want to waste 15 songs on an album and people only listen to two of the songs. On a normal day, if you have 15 songs and you think they are good it is better to put them out as singles. They will go better than an album. That is just my own opinion though, I´m not saying that other artist shouldn’t drop albums. I always talk about myself and I like to mind my own business.

Did you always know you wanted to do music?
– Yes, from when I was a child. I knew I wasn’t like other children, everywhere I went people would be drawn to me. They wanted to know about Timi, which is my first name. Even when I wasn’t singing people would ask about me and who I was so I knew there was something about me. I had this musical talent, worked hard and I am still here. And I am not nearly done yet. From the church choir as a child to here, it’s a blessing. I see a lot of artists and I question why they are not singing anymore? I looked up to a lot of people when I was establishing myself as an artist but some of them people have never heard about or they simply don’t remember them. Some of them only release one or maybe two albums but even though I am on my tenth or eleventh album now I am going to stay in the game.

What is the feeling you get when you get on stage?
– I feel happy because I get to see my fans. It’s not easy to see your fans, the reason why I’m on this tour is not about the money. I go on a tour every two three years because I want to reach out. This is my first time in Sweden and I choose the places I want to visit myself. This time I told myself I wanted to visit somewhere new without any stress. I just wanted a chilled tour and perform.

THROUGHOUT HIS CAREER Timaya has collaborated with stars like Duncan Mighty, Terry G, Sean Paul and legendary Jamaican singer Ras Kimono.

What advice would you give to someone who wants what you have and find success in the music industry?
– Just be happy, happiness is key and don’t trade it for nothing, no matter what. Don’t be unhappy and don’t let certain things bother you. Nothing is worth dying for. My career today, I don’t bother anybody. Take for instance my Instagram today, many people complain that I don’t follow people and say things about me but that’s my choice. I don’t wish to follow you I just want to follow Jesus Christ, no one else, and it’s my life. And at the end of the day I don’t think that anybody is in love me. Because if I wasn’t doing any good music, I wouldn’t be here in Stockholm today.

Tell us more about the music and what inspires you.
– Everywhere I go, I must record because I get different kinds of inspiration. A lot of musicians get it wrong. They will have a song, and think ok this song is a hit and they will enjoy fame and women. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love women but I am also aware that the job brings the women. So I´m going to keep doing the job for the women to keep coming. I remember when I was nobody, broke and didn’t dress nice or smell good, there was no women. But now it is different, there are plenty of women (I love varieties) and I have to keep being on top for them to stick around. There was a point in my life, when I was still coming up, my boss, who is here with me today; said you like women right? Of course I answered yes, and he said just work hard and they will come. And he was right. Women will always be a bonus. Like the song Bum Bum, it was what it sounds like inspired by a nice bum.

Any final thoughts before we go, Mr Timaya?
– I do music, that’s what I do. I listen to many different types of music because I like versatility. I always try to better myself in what I do and I want to do everything. I can wake up tomorrow and start singing Blues because I know music is not just for one person. It is a universal thing and I want to reach as many as possible.

 

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