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!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

RealTalk - How often do you take risks?

Hey guys, 

Happy last month of 2014! 
Although it is the end of the year, 
it is never too late to rethink, restrategise, and try something new! 
There is this photo being shared around various social media platforms, 
so I thought I'd share it too. 

I hope you enjoy this article I wrote, and I hope it inspires you! 


Recently, I made the decision not pursue an LL.M. I had acquired a lot of legal knowledge during my undergraduate degree and due to my long-term interests, I was eager to gain business knowledge. Knowledge that I could apply to my own company someday, or be of use to my future employer. However in the UK and the US, unless you plan to study an MBA, you are really not left with much choice in terms of degree options.

After an extensive search, I decided to undergo the Legal Practice Course (LPC) in the UK. The course allows me to be one step away from qualifying as a lawyer in the UK (the last step being a training contract), and I could also graduate with an MA in Business and Management. This is brilliant because I would kill two birds with one stone!

A couple of months ago I signed into my University blackboard and I realised that as part of my course, I have to take three electives. This was great news because I have been given the opportunity to study areas of the Law that I previously contemplated studying as a Masters as an elective! I was beyond excited! Ultimately the risk I took paid off! Now I get to learn more about the areas of Law I would have liked to, be one step closer to being a qualified lawyer in the UK, and be armed with amazing business knowledge in the form of an MA. I have successfully thus far, managed to have my cake and eat it too.

Choosing to do the LPC seemed like the best choice at the time, and I am glad I trusted my instincts. I did have a few doubts, as it is human nature to, looking at what others are doing and comparing yourself to them, or listening to people’s opinions about your decision. However, I sometimes forget that God has a plan for me; a unique construct, and I need to remember that. 

So as I am learning to let go and let love, it is working in my favour!

Why don't you do the same? Dare to take a risk! 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

RealTalk: Love - What is it?

I’ve been overwhelmed the past couple of days with the definition of love. Love is such a subjective concept and I call it a concept for that exact reason. As most of my friends and I are young adults, trying to find our way in the world, we sometimes can’t help thinking about our future life partners. Overwhelmed with hashtagged weddings, elaborately decorated celebrations, juxtaposed with the failed marriages that come to light soon after those grand events, these discussions come hand in hand with the discussion of love. What is it, and how does one maintain it?  

My mains and I have completely different ideas on love, relationships and how they should work. Seeing as we have all been raised by different people who have gone through their own life experiences, that is perfectly natural. Because we all have different opinions, it again highlights that there is no one way, or right way.

So what is love in the context of a relationship? In my opinion, love is the complete unconditional acceptance of another person. To give a few examples, you accept their strengths, weaknesses, flaws, fears, hopes and dreams.

I have realized that more often than not, we forget that people change over time, the man you love today might be completely different in the next few months, or next few years. Love dictates that you will accept him as he presents himself to you regardless of how he might have changed. The reason why we generally run into difficulty is that we get so used to a person being a certain way, that when they change you need to learn to accept them all over again. Not only that, but there might be tastes, values, opinions or personality traits you might not see coming. Further, you are going to have to realign those changes with your ‘self’, which also changes over time. In a sense, you choose to fall in love with that person again. 

Why did I just say choose? I ran into an amazing saying a few weeks ago, it stated that you cannot help who your attracted to, but you do choose who you love. Scientifically speaking, when we are attracted to someone, our body releases certain chemicals that cause us to feel, act and think in a certain way. We don’t consciously tell our body to release those chemicals we just do it, naturally! That sounds amazing doesn’t it? However, why is it that the case is different when it comes to love? Why is it that people say they are no longer ‘in love’? That is because often times we mistake attraction, or sexual tension for love. Love as already depicted earlier in article goes much deeper than just surface attraction. It is about the complete acceptance of another person. This crosses physical barriers into the emotional, and mental. Which although still involving chemicals, it is controlled by our conscious thought. Therein lies the key difference. We choose to say yes, to be married to this one person for the rest of our lives. We choose to say yes to the fact that when things go wrong, we will stay by their side. That is a major commitment that should not be taken lightly.

I believe (myself included), that we are guilty of allowing the media (books, movies, series, adverts) to affect our perception of love. It is depicted generally speaking, as either love at first sight, or love during a weekend, that involved some trial that was overcome. Or it was a whirlwind romance, that ended in tragedy. These movies are created to entertain. Whilst they make us feel all giddy and inspired inside, they do nothing to help us with the real world. In my opinion, more often than not, that concept of love does not exist, if it does, it does not last, and even then, only very few people have been able to attain it, especially in the 21st century with our changing morals, perceptions, technological advances and various other distractions.

Therefore, as much as love can mean different things to different people, something has been made very clear to me - love is a major commitment. If people focus on the fact that love is a choice, they will realise when the chips are down that they chose to love this person, to be with this person, to share a life with this person, and they might just try a little harder to make things work.

All pictures are taken from Google. Georgette Monnou reserves no rights to the images used.