SINGING couple, Tunde and Wunmi Obe played host to super stars at their exclusive album listening party in their mansion a couple of days back.
ENCOMIUM Weekly had an interview with the amiable husband, Tunde Obe about their new album and sundry issues.
How does it feel seeing your dream come to fruition?
Like I always tell people, it is normally like a journey. This album started in 2013, it took slightly over a year. We could afford to take that long because we are working from our own studio and environment. We took our time to do it. The album we are recording now is not because we want to be artistes of the moment. We are recording album now for our legacy. Things that people can look back and point to that, they did this, they did that. We are not playing music for today. We are playing music for the future. We are concentrating more on evergreen songs. Songs that will be good today, tomorrow and yesterday. I think we have achieved that. We are very excited about it. To us, this is the best album we have ever done. It is not about the tracks we have done. If you ask people for the best track, they will say all the tracks. You can slot the CD in, play it from track one to 15 without skipping a track.
You had the party at home, why that choice of venue?
We didn’t bring everybody. It was a select few. They were not just our colleagues in the industry. They are people we had had rapport with over time. We have a very good working relationship with them. They are really our friends. It was a select few and it was worth it. Everybody let their hair down. They left their stardom at the gate. They had genuine good time.
A lot more people would have been interested, especially your fans. Why the choice of people you invited?
Our fans should watch out for the next concert coming up soon. They will see us perform on stage. This is just for our friends in the industry. It was just for exclusivity. We had a press conference about a week before that. It will be different events for different people. We only invited people who were comfortable with us.
Can you tell us about the forthcoming concert?
Nothing concrete has been set. But we are trying to put something together for fans to come and watch. We are working on it. Our management will release a date and details very soon.
Why did it take five years to come up with a new album?
Everybody who has been following us will realize that we have actually been releasing albums every four years. The first album came out in 1998, second 2002, third 2006, fourth 2010. This one was due last year. We were about to release it when the political situation in the country started getting tensed. Whenever there is crisis, music is the last thing you will be able to push successfully. People were not interested in any other thing. A lot of people got their visa thinking Nigeria will scatter at that time. We were all in a prayer mood. That was why we released, Green White Green, a song we sang with 2Face Idibia to pray for peace. As soon as the election was over, we thank God we could now talk about music. That was what extended the album to 2015.
Can you tell us about the songs, what inspired them?
It is a 15-track album. It is called T.W.O Plus. Rather than saying T.W.O featuring 2Face, we decided to say T.W.O Plus. It featured quite a few of our friends like 2Face, 9ice, Danny Krane, Segun Obe, young and upcoming artiste called Tenim and others. We wanted to do an album that will have flavor and other voices. I think it worked out.
When should we expect the videos?
We have done three videos, Green White Green, Wedding Day, Omonsa. New videos should be out in three, four weeks. We just want to circulate now and make sure our marketer is doing his own job too.
Can you share with us the challenges you faced while producing?
Challenges were not really there because we were working in our own environment. It was a bonus, we could work in the night when inspiration comes. The challenge we had was power. Everything was done with generator. We pray that the change they have been shouting will really be actualized. Not just a change in personality. A country without power should not be reckoned with. This is 2015, we are still talking about power, it is a shame. People say Nigerians don’t speak positively about their country, where are the positive things to talk about. We are listed as one of the biggest oil producing nations, look at what is happening at filling stations, it is chaotic. Leadership is our problem in this country. I pray we get it right this time around. We need somebody who can fix things and everybody will live a better life.
What about the greatest challenge T.W.O has faced in the course of their career?
I think it is perception. Nigerians are always quick to move on to the next big thing. They are always after who is new. When an old artiste releases an album, people will ask what does he want to sing again? They have been around and made a name and all that. Presenting yourself again on the scene is always a challenge for any brand. If you look at all our actors and actresses, there seems to be a generational shift going on. The veterans we used to watch years ago are no more doing movies as such. We have new faces around. The same thing is happening in the music industry. To remain relevant is a challenge itself. You have to keep re-inventing yourself. You have to be fresh, your music has to be fresh. Everything about you has to be appealing. We are trying. Somebody called us fine wine that gets better with age. I appreciate that and I pray this album will do better than the last one.
How much will you say has gone into the album?
In Nigeria, everything is money, from production to printing stage. I can’t dwell on that. I really don’t like talking about expenses. Let us pray that we recoup what we have put there.
Will you say you are satisfied with what you have now?
Definitely, everybody that heard the album was impressed. In terms of us putting in our best, we have tried. We have done our homework, we are promoting it and we have released a good album.
How is the response?
It has been great. It has been wonderful. There are some songs I did in the album like Rise up, Ire, Without Love, Ayanmo. I did those songs for a select few but funny enough, many people are going for those songs. I did them just to cater for our matured audience. People just seem to love it, the young and the old.
Who are your target audience?
If you want to follow our music, you will realize that we are trying to go younger, the younger generation basically. If you want to remain relevant, you must sing songs that can appeal to them. But, music is spiritual, nobody can tell you this is the greatest song on your album until they listen to it. We are doing all we can to bring out the best.
What about promotion, how are you going about it?
We have done very well. BHM is in charge of it. The album is marketed by Ugo Best. We will always need the Alaba connection. We started promoting since last July. Everybody is expecting the album.
Piracy is a major challenge the industry is facing. What is your opinion about it? How best can it be curbed and how will you go about it so that pirates will not hijack your work?
When you talk about piracy, people don’t know how deep it is biting into the industry. We have spent over a year producing this album. By the time we go three, four months down the line, it is everywhere. It means the money is going into somebody’s pocket. Government should wake up to its responsibilities and pass a law on piracy. The law is not stiff enough, that is why pirates are still moving around. If there is a stiffer law, I am sure we will be able to minimize it. We print our own sleeve, if they need it at Alaba, we will have to supply them. That is our own measure, but how long will that last. Once there is a demand for it, they can scan it. The best we can do as artistes is to corner the first 50,000 copies before they get there.
Our marketer is one of the strong men in Alaba. I believe he is appealing to them. If we arrest a pirate today, what is the penalty? It is a bailable offence. If they are found guilty, they are not well punished. So, they are not worried about being arrested. Until they start equating piracy with armed robbery, pirates will always have a field day. I think we can only appeal to the government. The government has terrible habit of gathering musicians and sharing money. That is not what we need. Anybody who wants that is not a serious minded human being. Most of us want to work. I want to work. I want to do my own thing, I don’t want to go to Aso Rock to collect change from anybody. If I have to go to Aso Rock, it is just to perform. Nigeria has created this monster whereby everybody carries a cap in hand looking for a politician. That is not how a country that wants to progress should be. Entertainment can employ more people than the government if things are done properly. I can count 30, 40 people from my own end that collect salary every month. If things are better, I will have more people under my employment, we will take more people off the street, life will be better for all of us.
I want to sign artistes, but how can a record label survive in such circumstance? If you are to sign an artiste, it means the artiste will sign an agreement to part with about 40 per cent of what such person makes. That is the only way you can get back what you have invested on him. But an artiste will consider that as slavery. There is no other means of making money. That is why I am reluctant to sign an artiste. Also, as an artiste gets older, they don’t need to be jumping about on stage. They should be able to stay in their house to record a song, but it is no longer possible. The elder ones are still performing like the younger ones, it shouldn’t be so. Put the right structure on ground, the economy will shoot up. We pray that the incoming government will do something better.
What is happening to the Cupid’s Ball, it didn’t take place because of the election. Should we still expect it?
We are trying to see how it will work out. A lot of people have been asking. I can’t stick out my neck and say next year, I hope by 2017, we should be back with it. Cupid’s Ball is no longer a money making venture, it started out like that. But people will start calling you for invites, the place will be full of your friends. When we do it, we try to swallow a lot of cost. Even if we get sponsors, we still bear the greatest cost.
– SHADE WESLEY-METIBOGUN