Saturday, October 12, 2013

'10 years as an Artiste' Interview with Dbanj

Dbanj Opens Up in an extensive interview about Tongolo, Olivier Twist, Don Jazzy and Genevieve. Dapo Oyebanji (popularly known as D’banj) has taken his music beyond the shores of Africa where he has become a reckoning force within his 10 years in the industry. In this interview with TUNDE AYANDA, the entertainer shares his dream for music and how he wants to celebrate his 10 years as an artiste.

How do you feel headlining the 2013 Hennessey Artistry?
A lot of things have happened in the last two years, and next year, 2014 will be the 10th year of my first official song, Tongolo. I did the song in 2004. So, next, year it’s going to be D’banj’s 10th year on stage. For me to have been a decade in the industry means a lot. I have been watching what Hennessey has been doing with the entertainment industry and I can say I was humbled when they called me. I won’t be the first artiste they have used. They have been doing Hennessey Artistry for the past four years now. They have been doing it every year where they pick two or three artistes together to do a song, shoot a video and then they showcase what they have in a way to reach out to their core fans and customers. When they called me for this year, everybody knows that when it comes to D’banj, I enjoy what I do and put all my heart inside and dive into it. I told them this year would be different; that I would do it more like a lifestyle. I will do it the way it should be done, and I think that’s what we’ve been doing since we started. And when a lot of my fans see me now, they say they now drink Hennessy just because of me. They even said they didn’t know of the Hennessy Artistry before; so this one is more pronounced and I tell them it’s by God’s grace. I feel very honoured. A lot of people love it; maybe they will even use me for next year again. Who knows?

You travelled to France where Hennessey is made. Has that in any way changed your perception of the brand?
Going there, for me – and I say this with all humility on behalf of everybody and myself – a lot of Nigerians and our friends that were here don’t know the difference between cognac and brandy. Hennessey is not a brandy but cognac. My going to France was an experience, as I found out that the Hennessey we drink is made from grape. It feels real in me because nobody would ever believe it’s made from a fruit like grape. I was expecting a mixture of a substance but I was showed the preview of how it’s made and how it has been maintained. I took pictures of some barrels that have the Hennessey content of 1901. It’s a life cell. I pray that God should let me build my brand to that stage like Hennessey. The drink is the name of a man called Richard Hennessey. He was the one who discovered the place and established himself there. Today, he is widely known all over the world, because everywhere in the word they drink Hennessey. I too would also like to do a drink that can be called Bangali drink or something in the future. Hennessey has really opened my eyes and, like the bible says, that ‘a man that’s diligent with what God has blessed him with would sit before king and not men’. It’s not as if they are doing anything extraordinary, but they keep the simple tradition that has been set from the onset, and till date, nothing has changed in the process and only five or six families were allowed to produce Hennessey. I was also allowed to produce my own Hennessey, starting from the grape, to the beam, to the mixing and I did my own drink. I was asked when I would want to start and I said in 10 years time from now. You know I’m 10 years in the industry now and in another 10 years, we can now sit and open it.

You’ve been 10 years in the industry. Did you ever think you would come this far?
Oh yes, my career is just 10 years, but with the success I feel like three to four decades now. We are all doing the best we can do, but I believe with my 10 years as a musician, I have the biggest song in Africa right now and the best song of all time and most viewed videos of all time. I would just say that I’m humbled and we are getting ready for the world.

With Oliver Twist, have you achieved all you want as a musician?
I can never stop doing Oliver Twist; that is why I’m ‘Oliver Twist’. I’m just starting and I can’t be satisfied. It was the only song that ever got to the top ten chart in UK, Europe and other top places. I believe that Fela’s song only played in Europe but officially, we have accomplished a lot with Oliver Twist. So I want to continue with that momentum. I want two or three singles on the top chart and I want a video that would top the chart. I want to release an album that would compete with the albums on the international market and I will not rest until they see all of us as one; so they will not see us as Nigerian artistes or African musicians. I want them to hear a song around the world and identify that the song is from Nigeria, and that the singer is an international artiste. Nobody ever asks Jennifer Lopez where she comes from; everybody knows she is from America. Nobody ever asks Shakira where she comes from; nobody asks Wyclef if he was from Haiti. Until that is done in my own industry, I don’t think I will be satisfied. Like Kanye West always says that people have forgotten about racism; they are now on classism of colours, and I thank God because God is changing everything finally.

Starting from Tongolo to your latest song, Finally, how has it been?
I am very grateful to God. I’m not perfect but I’m happy and I’m satisfied to an extent that I always see myself as a person. Just before I did Tongolo, I had to force myself and everybody around me to believe in me. Don Jazzy never believed in me in the first place; I had to force him to believe in me. It’s not that I’m perfect or different from what I saw in Wande Cole in 2007 in UNILAG. I was about to go to a show, he sang for me and I told Don Jazzy we must sign him. But Don Jazzy asked me why. We signed him and everybody that was signed on Mo’Hits Records was brought in by me. But no one ever brought me into any record label; I started from the bottom. I started from nothing, then I was the only one who would play the mouth organ because we already had a singer here and there. Then we had singers and rappers, and when I had the mouth organ, I played it with passion and today, I’m on top of the world. So, if you ask me in a short time from Tongolo till now how life has treated me, I would say life has treated me very well and I’m on top of the world.

As big as your name is now, will you think of doing a movie story about yourself?
I would start by saying that I have never called myself a musician. I am an entertainer. Likewise some of my friends say if I carry a microphone, I can be a good stand-up comedian. But if you look at my videos, you will notice I spend a lot of money and time on the making of my music video. If you check the song Top of the World, you will see what I mean. It’s not ordinary. Every other video is like a movie, starting from Ogbona-Felifeli and Fall in Love where I had to go far to bring Genevieve in to make it a real movie. So, nobody should come and ask me if D’banj is still going into acting because they should already know that I’m an actor. By the time I’m getting into the movie industry, I believe it is going to be a replica of the same way. Who knows if in my first movie I’ll act like 50 Cent in his movie titled Get Rich or Die Trying, or maybe I’m going to do I’m D’banj in 2014, which is my 10th year on the stage – which I’m sure is not going to be a bad idea, or even with Genevieve.

The Fall in Love video still gets tongues wagging. Who really is Genevieve to you?
She is a friend of mine and she is also a very strong part of one of my most successful songs titled Fall in Love, and there is no way you are going to talk about Genevieve – even if you Google me, you will definitely find Genevieve attached to your search result.

Would you like to have her as your woman, and not just a friend?
Yes, I believe she is great and I don’t know what could happen to us in the future. I met her as a friend and I believe that anybody that has her as a wife, just like the Bible says that anybody that finds a woman has found himself a great treasure in life.

Do you miss your friend, Don Jazzy?
If I say anywhere that I don’t miss him, then I’m lying, because I’ll be 10 years old on stage by next year, and I spent eight and a half of those 10 years with him. I’m just married to him in a way that I miss everything. I miss the family, I miss his movement, I miss his jokes and argument in the studio and I miss him a lot. We can always do music with Don Jazzy. Now the song Top of the World was produced by a Grammy award-winning producer, while the song Finally and Don’t Tell Me Nonsense was produced by my producer, and Oliver Twist was produced by Don Jazzy; so why won’t I want Don Jazzy on my 10th anniversary album?

Tell us about your song Finally
For me, Finally is not just music; it’s like our story. I see us living in a jungle, where we are coming from as in Africa; where we are being ruled, and then now we are the ones that they want to look out for in the entertainment sector – not only in the oil and gas or the other sectors of the economy.

1 comment:

  1. Dbanj has really established himself as an international artiste. Hats off for the guy.