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UP CLOSE WITH DJ NEPTUNE

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Award winning international disc jockey and producer DJ Neptune’s single ‘Nobody’ sparked a viral global takeover across all online platforms with 40 million streams and counting. Neptune teamed up with emPawa’s Mr Eazi and Joeboy to give us this hit single, which is the next single off Neptune’s yet to be released project titled The Greatness II [Sounds of Neptune]. 

We had the pleasure to get Up Close and personal with Neptune where he talks culture vultures, DJ’in during quarantine and the status of the African music culture.

Talk us through the creative process for Nobody and collaborating with Mr Eazi and Joeboy?
Firstly shout out to my producer Magic Sticks he came up with the beat, he sent it to me on a cold chill evening, I was home he hit me up and was like “hey boss I sent you some beats I want you to listen to”, so I  get into my studio and download the 4 beats he sent. Nobody was the first beat I played, I listened to it halfway through it caught my interest I then listened to the other beats but Nobody was still ringing in my head so I came back to the beat and played it from the beginning to the end on repeat for 20-30 minutes non stop on my studio speakers, while listening I was thinking in my head what artists to feature on the song and who to work with. Joeboy immediately came to mind, I called him up “Joeboy I  got this lovely beat I want you to listen to I think you will you will love it”, I shared via whats app that same evening. I woke up the next morning with a message from Joeboy saying big bro check your email, I listened to the track and it was a banger, straight away I messaged Mr Eazi, he said if his not on the track we will fight he was somewhere in Europe when I sent him the record, within one week he sent his verse and we had Nobody the audio.

What’s the story behind the video?
We recruited TG Omori, we actually sent to a few directors but TG came up with a very interesting storyboard that we liked and went with. Prior to that we were discussing possible locations in Senegal and Sierra Leone but taking logistics into consideration it made sense to shoot here. The video was shot in January – shoutout to TG Omori he did an amazing job!

Nobody took the world by storm, was there a heavy budget to push the song?
I’ll be honest with you for Nobody there was no budget spent, everything that happened with the song was divine. No doubt it’s  a good song from when I was sent the beat I actually tweeted that I am working on my next single and it’s going to be a smash hit. I already had that feeling that people will love Nobody but had no idea it was going to blow up. The truth is the timing was perfect right before lockdown as it was released on 6th march. We had no idea that the world was about to go into lockdown but I guess it was a divine connection. I was able to do a full week of radio rounds and club activations just before the lockdown came into effect. The first week Nobody had already done a million views on youtube and over million streams on audiomack. 
We are currently on 13 million views on youtube and 40 million streams across all music platforms. 
Nobody blew up more on Triller as well as TikTok, I was not paying attention at first but on Triller it was huge right now we have over 6 million views on Triller videos to the point that 4 weeks ago the CEO of Triller stated in and article “That Nobody is by far the biggest Afrobeats record that made an impact on the app on a global scale.”

What is one experience in life that, without it, DJ Neptune wouldn’t be the DJ you are today?
It’s been crazy as while I started this whole journey into becoming an entertainer and DJ people around me did not understand what I was doing they thought I was crazy and I remember leaving my comfort zone for two years. It was not easy but I told myself “you can not afford to fail” with that at the back of my mind, that I must succeed and then convert my success story to an inspiring one not just for me but to other young aspiring teenagers out there who want to do what they love but their folks or friends around them do not understand their vision. I am forever grateful I took that bold step, if I did not do that there would not be a DJ Neptune that everybody loves and is celebrating right now.

You have a deep love for putting on new artists, who is Runda?
 So what happened with that is I’m currently working on my next project which is done but I am still recording – so I tweeted a few weeks ago that I needed song writers I put my email address saying if you are a good songwriter let’s talk. I received over 800 emails. It was so crazy, I couldn’t go through everything. When looking through I came across Runda’s email he actually did not send anything about songwriting he sent a song and was just so confidence “ DJ Neptune I need you to listen to this song I am a young artist you will love it” I hit download and heard the song and was blown away with his talent. I responded to his email to send me more stuff and told him I want to work with him, so there is going to be a collaboration with him. It’s his track we have already recorded. We were in the studio together last night, amazing track produced again by Magic Sticks. We are also talking to TG Omori  for a video so that will be dropping soon. I have been blessed to come this far so I should be able to extend the blessings to the younger ones, this is my way of giving back to society. I am very positive he is going to blow up.

How is performing live and producing in the studio connected? What do you achieve and draw from each experience personally?
It’s always a good feeling to perform to the audience. There’s that sense of achievement when you’re performing and people are vibing, loving what you’re doing. Shout out to everyone that came out to support me for my debut concert SOUNDS OF NEPTUNE it was amazing, it was dope performing alongside artists like Teni, Mayorkun, Tiwa Savage, Skibii, Peruzzi and a lot of guys. I was surprised by the way my colleagues came out to support me including the DJ’s as well Jimmy Jatt, Big N, a lot of DJ’s. Everybody came and we were all together in one space at Muri Okunola park. Shout out to everyone who attended, and to you as well Stefi K cos I mean you also worked with me on that day to make things smooth. It was not easy considering it was my first concert but it was a huge success.

You always have the dopest drip, who styles you?
So I have a personal shopper who I work with and a couple of stylist. For me I’m not really big on designer clothes as long as it’s dope and fits well and I’m comfortable those are the things I look out for but shout out to everyone that has styled me from Eko Moses, Maban to my personal shopper as well.


Music from the Continent is receiving world wide recognition, what would you say changed the game?
Afrobeats is the next big genre of music for attention of people across different parts of the continent. There’s a big eye on what we do in this part of the world, the sound is fresh from instruments to the artists, producers, engineers and directors, everybody putting in work. I feel that it’s our time and I’m happy with what is happening; before the pandemic our guys are already doing festivals and have their own shows in different parts of the world selling out and making good money for themselves. As an African DJ this is the next level, we are getting to the stage where promoters will start looking into our markets. It is a good feeling, things are changing, shout out to everyone putting in work with the help of social media, streaming platforms like Apple Music who recently launched Africa Now in more African countries shout out DJ Cuppy bringing the spotlight onto us. We may not have proper structure but we have the numbers now it is about converting the numbers to revenue which is already happening. We are putting in the work for the next generation. This is the time for us to have one voice. The western world wants to come into the market to take advantage and create the mentality of this person is competing against you.
With Nobody I have so many offers to re-license the song all over the world. Myself and the team have single handedly taken Nobody to this level so they would have to come with an amazing offer before I even give that a thought they want to reap from where they did not sow.

How are you coping during the Quarantine, what advice can you give to others on how you stay positive and active?
It’s not making sense at all but it is what it is. We need to stay safe, lockdown is eased off with curfew but the economy is still suffering as entertainers are bearing the cost.
I love to perform its not even about the money, with the success of Nobody I can’t even imagine the places I would have been to perform I would probably be on world tour right now, but it is what it is we need to keep safe and play our part while the government is fighting this covid-19 battle. Hopefully very soon life can go back to normal.
Doing online live parties is what the world is adapting to now the only constant thing in life is change. So you need to be ready when people are moving at a different pace, I have  performed live for a couple of brands and platforms.
We have to stay positive and stay strong for ourselves, keep working, and keep being innovative. There are so many avenues, before now these platforms have been there but we have never taken advantage of live performances, events etc.
So this is an eye opener to a lot of us, after the pandemic this will be better.
Capitalise on all these  platforms utilise it positively and see how you can benefit from it, it’s not easy but we all have to stay strong together.

What are you looking forward to most post isolation?
I would like to travel to an island to meditate by myself, just to get away for a week just to refresh.

Please recommend two artists to our readers which you feel deserve their attention.
Two artist I recommend would be Omah Lay and T Classic, check them out on IG:
Omah Lay: https://instagram.com/omah_lay?igshid=1a5evs3qwcftl
T Classic: https://instagram.com/tclassic_mne?igshid=1jvjwwsglxn0g

What is next for DJ Neptune? What do you want your supporters to know about you?
I am working on my next project which should be out sometime in September. I am also working on a remix EP for nobody so remixes from different parts of the world which is planned to be out in August and apart from that  just working on music while we wait out the whole pandemic.

Download & Stream Here: https://empawaafrica.lnk.to/Nobody

 

 

Interviews

UP CLOSE WITH ADENIKÈ

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Following the release of her self titled EP, we got up close and personal with British-Nigerian Afro Pop singer and songwriter Adenikè.

In your own words can you give us a description of ‘Adenikè’ as a complete body of work; what is the EP about & what does it means to you?
Adenikè stands for Royalty and my mother didn’t  give me my name for no reason. I am a young, beautiful young lady, who doesn’t put up with nonsense and deserves respect. My EP represents what I will not tolerate from men and also that love is real.

How did you fall in love with music? How has your musical journey been?
Honestly at first I started music because my friends and family would always tell me how good my voice is, and I shouldn’t waste my talent. I wasn’t really doing it for myself to begin with, however as time went by and I spent more time around other musically talented people and more time in the studio, I started to realised that it is actually what I want to do. I remember being much younger, maybe around 12/13 and I used to write my own songs, run around the house singing or my brother would assist me recording a cover and it dawned on me that even from a young age, I’ve always wanted to do music at that point it started to make sense.

My journey so far has been the biggest learning curve for me, it has put me in positions that I wouldn’t put myself in and that has shown me that I’ve grown in so many ways especially with my sound.

There will always be comparisons. How do you set yourself apart from other Afropop females?
I feel like my voice itself sets me apart from other  Afropop females.

How do you feel social media has impacted your music and reach? 
I mean social media plays a huge role, if not for it none of my music will be heard. It definitely shows me what I’m up against and this pushes me to want to show more of me and what I can bring to the scene. This is hard one for me because although I am an  artist I shy away from social media. My supporters don’t really see my personality they literally just see my music. Which I am trying to change.

What do you think of the AfroPop scene in London? 
I personally think it’s popping at the moment. This is exciting because it means that that genre is getting the attention it needs as new talent is emerging from literally everywhere.

Is there any African and (or) International artist you would love to collab with and why?
Tiwa Savage and this is because she is another reason I do what I do. She has this attitude and confidence that I love and want to be able to show in my own music.
The way she implements her language into her music does it for me. I want to be able to fluently use my native tongue in my music so people know where I’m from and she does that right down to the T. I’ve been listening to her my whole music journey and I think we would bounce of each other.

What advice would you give to other female artists in your genre?
Be confident, own your shit and do you. No one can do you better than you.
This is advise I need to take for myself lol!

What is currently on your playlist?
My current playlist has a bit of Rema, Fireboy, Burna, Tems, Teyana Taylor, HER, Summer Walker and Tiwa of course. As you can see my mixture of Afro- R&B/Pop.

What’s next for you?
This year is a busy year for me. I have a lot of up coming projects on the works and cannot wait to put them all out.

Listen to Adenikè EP
Follow Adenikè

 

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Interviews

5 Women, 5 Questions

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Some women are very vocal about how they are treated by the industry and the men they are surrounded by and often receive a lot of backlash for speaking out. But a lot of women don’t complain, creating the impression that they don’t share the negative experiences that their fellow female colleagues have.

To highlight International Women’s Day, I asked five women the same five questions to find out what they are dealing with as female members of a predominantly male genre and what they think could bring us closer to gender equality.

Thank you so much Kim Sineke, Laverne Thomas, Kemi Smallz, Simi Badiru and Gracey Mae for taking part. (Left to right)

 

1. What is the most common misconception about female artists?

Kemi Smallz: One of the most common misconceptions about female artistes is the “women not liking /supporting” women narrative.

Laverne Thomas: That they are high maintenance and expensive for labels to develop.

Gracey Mae: There’s a few sha! 😂 I think the one that irks me the most is the misconception that all female artists are territorial. Competition for male artists is seen as healthy but when it comes to women, it’s seems as if there’s only one seat at the table. For this reason, there is a narrative that women cut off each other to secure their spot. The pseudo solution is that women should collaborate more but this is simply not the case. Working together can be strategic or organic but shouldn’t solely be because both artists are women. There are many recent examples of this where the partnerships leverage different but complimenting sonics  audiences and locations:

  • The One – Efya ft Tiwa Savage
  • There for You – Simi & Ms Banks
  • Can’t Let You Go – Stefflon Don ft Tiwa Savage & Rema
  • My Power – Nija, Beyoncé, Busiswa, Yemi Alade, Tierra Whack, Moonchild Sanelly & DJ Lag

Kim Sineke: The most common misconception is that we are too emotional to make concise decisions. This is, as a misconception is such an untrue belief. We are killing it in the game as headstrong, fearless and undeniable. We are at the forefront of creating trend and making things pop. Never underestimate the power of female. In fact, it is to the power of female.

Simi Badiru: In such a male dominated industry, female artists are hardly ever given 100% credit for the success of their careers (this happens to women within the industry that are not artists as well). People often think that female artists have taken/need to take ‘short cuts’ in order to be successful, but no, a lot of women genuinely work hard and smart for what they have achieved.

 

2. Have you experienced situations where you feel you were treated as a lesser person simply because of your gender?

Kemi Smallz: Oh yes! A lot of times. There’s even the phrases like “na woman”, “I get your type for house” that exist just to do exactly that, make you feel less.

Laverne Thomas: Yes numerous times unfortunately. I have been underestimated by virtue of the fact that I’m a womb carrying member of society and excluded from conversations because I’m a woman sitting in a boardroom of men.

Gracey Mae: Nothing will humble you like working in an overtly patriarchal society within a male dominated industry. The stories are countless: from being objectified to being overlooked. Instances like this are the extra ammunition I use to push me to work harder and so that I can command the respect I deserve.

Kim Sineke: Absolutely been treated as less than. Too many times to count. But there is so much victory in proving the opposite. We continue to show up, create and be indispensable and it’s not only a victory for females, but a victory for the creative entertainment industry.

Simi Badiru: Haven’t we all? I think because I live in Nigeria, already that makes it completely unavoidable. But to answer your question, yes. It can be upsetting sometimes but there’s not much we can do about it. We keep working and moving forward, there’s no time to keep complaining about things we cannot necessarily change. Although this responsibility shouldn’t be put on us, we have to be able to turn a blind eye and not give certain things and people too much attention.

 

3. Have you ever been in situations where you felt that being a female in the industry actually worked in your favour? In other words, do you ever get the special treatment simply because women are still a rarity in the genre?

Kemi Smallz: Special treatment? No. Women in fact have to work twice as hard as our male counterparts in this industry.

Laverne Thomas: There honestly may have been instances when people treated me favourably. I’m used to people being surprised upon meeting me that I’m a woman as my name is unisex so there shock at emailing and then meeting in person and discovering that I’m female is quite entertaining as there are few female managers.

Gracey Mae: Let’s start with I’m here due to God’s grace, hard work and divine opportunity. With that said, I would definitely say that you can learn to lean into your femininity when it’s appropriate. That doesn’t necessarily mean be overly flirtatious or sexual (though you can be if that’s your bag – no judgment), it does mean that you can leverage your feminine energy with servant leadership; that sometimes looks like leading with your heart (and not always with your head), you can dabble in artist development by nurturing talent and you can be accessible by tapping into your vulnerable side. My role is reliant of network and relationships, it can be argued that I’m optimising the warmth usually associated with being female.

Kim Sineke: Lol yes. Purely because we are so undermined. We walk into the room and a few minutes later we own the room. We are no longer just getting the seat at the table but are becoming the head of the table because we are inadvertently proving our abilities and our strength. A lot of people think we don’t have a voice and we don’t have view but BOY are we loud with the right noise and the indisputable view.

Simi Badiru: Off the top of my head, I don’t think so. Obviously, people are a lot  softer with the way they approach/respond to me as a woman (because society), but I wouldn’t say it has gotten me any special treatment, if anything a lot of the time it gives unnecessary attention.

 

4. Do you think the music industry should intervene with measures like quotas to create a more balanced industry? Is there maybe a better way?

Kemi Smallz: I mean , If you want something to change , you have to make conscious efforts to put things in place to aid the process.Things like quotas, balance of opportunities, inclusion of more women in music shows/festivals/concerts, mentorship programs /initiatives for women are some workable ways to create a more balanced industry.

Laverne Thomas: As far as intervening I am not entirely sure that wide scale legislative measures are the best approach. But I definitely believe that there should be more initiatives to encourage women into executive positions in the music industry as well as behind the boards as producers and engineers as well as DJ’s and promoters. There are some female artists that have suffered instances of harassment from executives and male creatives in the industry and having more females in positions of power could help to minimize these experiences. History has shown the industries improve when women are brought in at executive level so for me that would be the first step second only to creating safe and encouraging spaces for female creatives to thrive.

Gracey Mae: As much as I would love for female musicians to rise to the mainstream on their own, I’m an advocate for quotas and allies. We’ve seen it happen successfully with countries like Nigeria dictating how much local and foreign music can be played on TV and radio. They created a demand for Nigerian music and the artists supplied it in abundance. The same should be done with female artists. They’re not lacking in talent, work ethic or production quality – it’s simply exposure, so the use of affirmative action as a short term solution could be really impactful, knowing that it will normalise a balance in representation and become what’s expected.

Kim Sineke: I think females have created a new quotas. We are no longer just getting coffee but are bringing unforgettable creative quotas to the forefront. We are not waiting for an industry to create these quotas but we are doing it ourselves daily. It is taking time but we are doing it.

Simi Badiru: I feel like with every industry, there are imbalances and people in  higher positions can make a difference if everyone was genuinely intentional about it. Women represent a good chunk of the industry and I don’t see why they should not earn as much as their male counter-parts. I don’t know about a better way because a lot of it seems majorly idealistic – but it starts with employers, if you are paying your male employees more than the females, then you are part of the problem.

 

5. What would be your number one piece of advice to women who have just started careers in performance, radio, TV, film, or the music business?

Kemi Smallz: Do not downplay your confidence and diminish yourself just so you can be more acceptable. Do not apologize for being yourself.

Laverne Thomas: Try not to let the industry convince you that being female isn’t a bonus. Own and embrace the fact that your’e a boss and keep it moving.

Gracey Mae: Shine bright. Shine apologetically. Shine regardless. Navigate the male dominated industry with wisdom but note that your gender is not a barrier to your success.

Kim Sineke: Be stern and unafraid. Your ideas will not always be the best in the room but they are valuable in that room. They are a catalyst to unlocking yours and others creative process. Say them out and say them out loud – don’t be afraid to be critiqued, it will propel you forward and it will showcase just how valuable you are at the table.

Simi Badiru: I would say never change who you are unless that’s what you want to do. Build your career for you and not anyone else. It is also important to be intentional about your journey, we all don’t have it figured out but as long as you are going in the right direction things will all into place. One last thing, don’t let anyone pressure you into doing anything that doesn’t make you comfortable, it’s your career not theirs!

 

International Women’s Day is not just about celebrating, its about amplifying women’s voices for tomorrow and the entire year.

The music industry still has a long way to go for gender equality. What the experiences of women reveal is that the biggest barrier they face is the way the music industry thinks about women especially those in colour.  As women in entertainment, it’s essential to ensure that women from all backgrounds are being considered and hired throughout the industry and must continue to expand its commitment to representing the voices and talent of women in all aspects of the business.

 

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Interviews

60 SECONDS WITH REBECCA WINTER

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Meet Rebecca Winter Afro-fusion artist of Nigerian descent, she is know for her skilfully blends of Afrobeats with Soul, R&B and Pop giving us addictive yet mature tones.  Ahead of her first release of the year ‘Diamonds’ we caught up with Ms Winter.

SK: Who is Rebecca Winter?
RW: An Afro-fusion artist originally from west London with a passion for creating and performing music. I’m very hardworking and really do put my all into everything that I do. My main thing to promote is confidence, especially for the women and positivity.

SK: We’re loving your last release ‘Tell Me’. How did the track come about?
RW: Thank you! I was listening to a song by Normani called ‘Check-List’ and I could hear myself creating a similar Afro-pop vibe so I went to the studio with producer Dwante and we got straight to work. We loved the vibe so much that we got the demo done straight away and thats when I came up with idea behind the visuals.

 

SK: What message did you want to get across with the release?
RW: I just wanted to give the ladies something to confidently sing. I think it’s so important that we know how powerful we are, so in the song we are telling the guys, if you want this then work for it.

SK: What have been some of your highlights so far as an artists?
RW: One of my highlights has to be releasing my first ever project called ‘Rare’. I’m not too sure why but I felt really proud of myself on that day, knowing how much work that was put into the project and the amount of people that came to my private listening party. Despite me not posting anywhere.
Another great highlight was going on tour with Burna Boy. It made me realise how ready I am to perform my music on a large stage. Since I was a little girl I always danced to Beyoncé in front of my TV, I knew her live choreography from beginning to end so being given the opportunity to perform live day after day for a legend was a dream come true.

SK: We love how bold and confident you are on social media, what advice would you give to females trying to get into the industry?
RW: There are so many things I would honestly say. First thing I would say is stay true to yourself. It lasts longer. If you know you’re a Bad B then be that and proud, if you know an introvert then implement that in your music. Secondly, forget fear. Fear only holds you back, if you want to do something, do not let fear stop you from doing it. Thirdly, hard work always pays off. You need to be putting in 150% effort Intro your craft. Lastly consistency is everything, don’t think only for today, think for tomorrow because music is a journey and it will take a catalogue of music to write your story, not just one single or one project.

SK: What’s an average day like for you – How have you managed the covid pandemic as an artists?
RW: An average day for for me would be going to work from 9-5 as I work full -time and then heading to the studio and staying there until 12am, then possibly songwriting when I get home.

SK: If I was to look in your phone right now, what five artists/songs would I see on your recently played list?
RW: You would see a huge mix of artists including Beyonce, Wizkid, Burna Boy , Franglish & Aya Nakumara I absolutely love them and have become really addicted to french music in particular.

SK: If you could go open up for any artist on tour who would it be?
RW: It would have to be Queen B, Beyoncé.

Check out her new single Diamonds out now!

‘Diamonds’ combines Afrobeats and R&B for a smooth, vocal-based track which paints a picture of a love that can’t be broken, one that is not shaken by external factors, and essentially – anyone may try, but they cannot get close to your loved one. This single comes at an appropriate season, with Valentine’s Day approaching, this is a must-play on radios and a must-have on playlists. 

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