News

[NEWS][bleft]

ENTERTAINMENT

[Entertainment][bsummary]

Sports

[Sports][twocolumns]

Movies

[Movies][twocolumns]

Loyalty is hard to come by –Asa


Acknowledged as one of Nigeria’s finest musicians, Bukola Elemide, who is popularly known as Asa, is one of the most sensational artistes to have emerged in the last decade. Not only is her music  desired  all over the world, her pleasant-sounding songs which are easy on the ears,  also cut across all ages.

At a young age, the Paris-born singer and songwriter who was raised in Lagos, was exposed to an intricately diverse fusion of songs from music icons-Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye and Bobby Brown as well as Nigerian folk music. The consequence is  her eclectic taste in music and a rich repertoire of songs.

   Shedding light on her style of music, she says, “I am not sure I can describe my sound and music. When I write and sing, I just want the music to touch you. My music is not world or soul music, I find that very limiting.”



Recollecting how she  discovered music, she says,“I grew up with my three brothers and because I was the only female, I was responsible for quite a lot. I spent my teenage years in a boarding school and with my grandparents. I didn’t have a childhood because responsibilities came very early. I missed out on a lot and now, I am catching up .

“My dad had the records of my earliest musical influences. He used them for his work and I loved the way they looked on the album covers. Michael Jackson was a hit as far I was concerned! He danced so well and I loved to dance,” she recalls.

Even though her artistic career began in Paris, the soft-spoken artiste admits that Nigeria has contributed to her career progression in more ways than one.

“Nigeria is the beginning. It is the root of everything I do. My mantra is act local think global. Though, the Nigerian audience got to know me more after France introduced me to the world. I actually started performing here at home. The love from the public at home has always been incredible,’’ she notes.

On why Paris appeals to her, she says, “I work from Paris, it is easier aside from the fact that offices and  my team are mostly based there. Notwithstanding,  I travel a lot and spend less time in Paris . I am often in Nashville, Los Angeles, or Lausanne (a quiet town in Switzerland) and  those are my new writing spots. I am always in Nigeria after work. I come home quietly a lot to spend time with family and friends.”

With three hit albums to her credit, she sheds light on the ‘special’ one. Bed Of Stone. It reflects where I am today. Also Asa Live In Tokyo. I wondered what was going on in my mind when I recorded it. It is so pure and naïve,” she notes.

On the inspiration behind one of her most innovative songs yet, Satan Be Gone, Asa says, “It is nothing like I have done before and I like to reinvent myself. I wrote it in the middle of recording the Bed Of Stone album. My producer, Blair MacKichan and I were taking a break when he suddenly started playing the melody on the piano. It was spontaneous and the words came to me in Yoruba and the picture in my head was that of the dusty fields in New Orleans.

“The image I have of New Orleans is sepia, dust, derelict buildings, people with nothing to do but drink. With sorrow in their eyes and looking towards the sea longing for something.”

Even if her musical engagements means  she has to shuttle between France, USA, UK and Switzerland, the petite singer is still in tune with the developments in the Nigerian music industry.

She says,“I am in love with the new sound. I am always trying to figure out how the guys (Nigerian artistes) come up with such creative beats and melodies. Also, the music business is taking shape.

“We have songwriters who have songwriting as a career now and Nigerian artistes understand their importance, as it should be. We have other avenues for the artiste to earn a decent living.”

For one who has recorded several hit songs, an interesting event made her doubt her last LP, Bed of Stone. She says, “I had serious doubts because I wasn’t happy with the producer I was working with at the time in Los Angeles. I didn’t like the set up of the team in Los Angeles and I wasn’t getting any reactions from my label about changing the team because it was a big budget set-up; the producer was a famous personality  and my label weren’t going to have him changed.

“I am Asa not Mariah Carey. I have my own way of composing and singing, I can’t be someone else and I have made that point clear. We had to trash the entire LA recordings and I went to the UK to do it my way with the team I wanted, In the end, I was happy with the way Bed Of Stone turned out. Even though it was tough, I will never quit music.”

It’s almost impossible to talk about Asa’s career and not ask her to speak about her manager and friend of over 12 years, Janet Nwose. No doubt a rare feat in the entertainment industry, she says, “Janet is not only a manager, she is my sister and my family on the road and in addition to coordinating labels, publishers, agents and  musicians, she wears many hats. She is my make-up artist sometimes, stylist and she has a good eye for photography. She is a really talented person  who knows when to switch the hats and I respect that. Sometimes, it is hard when people do not understand you; they don’t know where you are coming from or where you’re going. Loyalty is really hard to come by in music business.

“A lesson I have learnt is to believe in your ideas as long as  they are valid. No one is as unique as you are  and the right people will come to you. If you have found someone who sees and believes in your dream, hold on to that person. Janet had to learn how to do most of what she knows from determination. We are faced with challenges at all levels and she deals with them well.”

With a lot clearly on her plate, the 33-year-old artiste speaks excitedly about some of her projects.“I am currently working on the Asa LIVE IN LAGOS concert. It is the last and final stop for the Bed of Stone tour and I am in Los Angeles, at the moment working on my next album,” she says.

In the recent, the bespectacled crooner has been experimenting with several looks and trends. “I like simple and understated sophistication. I like cuts that an architect will envy just for the streamlines. To put it simply, I am paying attention to cloths that work with my body shape. I used to be very conscious of my body and it started when I was eight. This was after I overheard someone in my neighbourhood say, ‘That girl will be fat.’ That wasn’t a cool thing to say.

“Another was when I was starting out. I would carry my guitar, wear baggy pants and shirts. It was my way of hiding and being invincible or so I thought.

“I have my confidence and I dress myself. I look for unique pieces and my stylists have mastered that  I do not need to just paste super brands on. Confidence and a smile also go a long way!”

On what drives her , the multiple award-winning singer  says,“Success! (I don’t mean the monetary one although it is a part of a whole). When people from different countries, races and beliefs can say that my music has touched or helped them overcome difficult times or just makes them happy. Some of them don’t even understand the language but feel the emotion. That is success, and it is my drive.”

In between her studio sessions and music gigs, does she consider herself romantic? “Oh yes! I used to think I wasn’t until it hit me,” she concludes.




SOURCE : PUNCH