FLORENCE Ifeoluwa Otedola, a.k.a DJ Cuppy, daughter of billionaire businessman, Femi Otedola is regarded as a fast rising female disc jockey on the African continent. With little time she bumped into the scene, she has handled top jobs from weddings, awards and other high profile shows.
The 21 year-old explained in this chat with ENCOMIUM Weekly about how it all started for her, insisting she has a dream to build one of the world’s biggest music empires.
How did it all start for you?
I have been a DJ since I was 16. Music is something I am very passionate about. I have lived half of my life in the UK and the other half in Nigeria. I reflect both cultures in my music. Wherever I go, I take a bit of Nigerian music with me which I think make me unique.
Do people take you serious as a DJ?
There are times when I go to an event and I am with my manager, they look at him and not me. There is this assumption that I can’t be the DJ. It’s something they don’t expect. But I love my job, yes!
How busy are you?
Very busy, it is something that increases by the day because I put 101 per cent in all I do. I like to do things very well. I try not to put myself in many projects.
How were you able to blend in the song you did with Tunji Oyelana?
It’s a powerful song, it’s very different. For me, it is getting a Nigerian song that is very different and entertaining. It’s a song everyone can listen to. It’s like my project. I got five Nigerian songs and I interpreted it in my own way.
Your type of music is very new in Nigeria?
It is something that will be a journey. The music Nigerians listen to now are different. It’s not what they listened to back in the days. Music now is what people socialize with, there is a new wave of sounds going around, having Mafikizolo sound successful in Nigeria and refreshing, it shows that people are ready for new sounds.
Like how many years do you have in your plan for this job?
That is why I started my own music company. As far as Nigerian musical content is concerned, there is so much potential here. I want to take Nigeria to other places that have different sounds, and with my job I am so fortunate to travel around. We underestimate the power of music here, people use music to interact. In the long run, I want to have a company that will give opportunities to African artistes, a platform to launch themselves into the world scene. It’s great that I have a talent but how do I commercialise it? I am doing my Masters in New York, US. I am concentrating on Music Business. I am looking at the legal side of entertainment. A lot of music artistes waste away because they are not well protected. So, my 10-year plan is to bring all these into the Nigerian entertainment scene.
When you started as an artiste, what were your parents’ reaction?
I am lucky to have supportive parents. What stops young people from following their passion is the lack of support, not necessarily financial support. I have the most amazing team and people around me who always advice me. My parents push me to be a better version of me, I am not trying to be someone else but just being myself. Growing was scary, I am very excited about my projects that sometimes I am overwhelmed. My dreams are bigger than me. I am blessed to have parents that support me in what I do, they push and challenge me.
Sometimes do you get recognition because of your background and not what you do?
It’s true, I am following my dreams and doing an exciting project and yet it’s overshadowed by my background or influence. It’s quite difficult, talent and passion speak for themselves. People sometimes doubt I could actually do the job. It’s a bit disappointing. I am a honest person, people should identify more with what I do and how passionate I am about it. We all have our platforms, it now depends on how you are making use of that platform. You can get opportunity based on different platforms that can only take you as far as you go. After a while if you are not good at what you do, then you won’t have anything to do afterwards.
What is your experience as the official DJ for the MAMAs?
I was the resident DJ for the MAMAs this year, that was an amazing gig. They told me they love what I am doing, it was an award show. I have done weddings and others. I DJ for the Financial Times in Mexico, my job keeps me on my toes and I learn every day on the job.
How did your name Cuppy come about?
DJ Cuppy is pronounced differently and it comes from the word, cup cake. When I was 16, I loved cup cake and friends call me Cuppy and the likes, so I decided to adopt that name.
With your job you get to travel around a lot. How do you balance this with other aspects of your life as a young girl?
In every work there is that work balance. Presently, I am working. If I am not working, I am thinking of what to do. I am not just a DJ, I also run my music company. Sometimes, I am DJ Cuppy, other times I am the CEO of my company, and other times I am a student. I am 21 and I know what I am doing. I maybe in a male dominated industry, that makes me confident. I don’t get intimidated by the presence of men. In fact, it makes me fight harder. In the industry, women find it really hard, women also need to support one another. Being young sometimes has an advantage, no one wants somebody who is not ready to learn. I am confident in what I do, at the same time, I am open to learn new things. It’s important to focus and put everything I have into what I do and every other thing will come later.
How good are you at this job?
It is a DJ job and I am here to satisfy my clients. It’s very creative. There is no point carrying out a work if the client won’t be happy. For me, if the dance floor is empty, I am not doing my job. Before every gig, I compile music and get other music around the world. Before the MTV awards, I researched about South African music. It may be time consuming, but I make sure I am prepared for every show I handle. I may be asked to play a song I don’t have. I download on the spot. I am a critic of myself, I prepare very well before a show. My mother used to tell me, ‘If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.’
How well are you versed in your native language?
I can speak the language, Yoruba and I understand it. I am in love with the language and the culture. I learnt from my parent while growing up the value of interaction, especially with respect to the elders.
How much do you charge for a Nigerian gig?
It depends on the hour I am spending at that gig, the equipment and other logistics.
Are there reservations that you will later on in life take charge of any of your father’s business?
My parents are so supportive of what I do, especially my mother. She inspires me, she is such a strong woman. Regarding future prospect, I think it will be better to do what you love. When you do what you love, you do it well. It doesn’t feel like work because it is what I love doing. I see myself in the future doing what I love. I have Masters degree in Business and if I decided to delve into business, it will be fantastic, but I am more passionate in what I do now. I have always wanted to do my own thing whether creative or not, I got that entrepreneurial spirit from my father.
If DJ does not work for you, what else do you have in mind?
I could see myself going into law. I love law, particularly entertainment law. I will still be in the entertainment scene.
What was growing up like for you?
Growing up was fun, I asked a lot of questions. I had a lot of energy, I turned our living room into a studio one day. I had a beautiful childhood, I grew up around Ikeja, Lagos and I have such fond memories being a happy child. I also have naughty experiences as well.
While growing up, what was that childhood ambition you have nursed?
I wanted to be a banker. I used to practice that with my sisters at home.
Last week, you performed at Quilox reopening. How often would that be?
I was fortunate to be a guest DJ, that was a one-off thing. I will be in Lagos often because I have many projects going on.
Recently, you were appointed an ambassador, what are your roles?
I am to facilitate Nigeria’s tourism campaign. I am so happy to be a part of that. The Ministry of Tourism asked me to be part of it, I composed a song, I love my country. It’s very fascinating. My job really is to reach out to the youths at this time, that is a little bit difficult for Nigeria. We need to be an ambassador wherever we go.
Is being a billionaire’s daughter an advantage?
There is always a good and bad side to everything. There are opportunities and there are things I miss out as regards personal life. Anybody that thinks being a billionaire’s daughter is an advantage must also remember there are disadvantages.
How close are you to your dad?
We are very close. He’s my mentor, he is very much involved in my project. He is on the advisory side and also on the creative part. When I have gigs, he helps me go through the list, especially when I have old school gigs. My father is very passionate about music, he loves music. When I was young, I remember listening to him playing Fela.
– FOLUSO SAMUEL