Season 6 winner of MTN Project Fame, Olawale, has finally come out with his debut album, a year after emerging winner. In an interview with ENCOMIUM Weekly, he opened up on his challenges and fortune.
You are launching your album soon, tell us about it.
It’s my debut album, my first album, and I am very excited about it because there are lots of great songs in the album and most important there are great collaborations in the album too. Though it was quite stressful for me, at least everything is set now, I am excited and I can’t wait for my fans to listen, for people to just get to hear different things. I am looking forward to great response from my fans and everybody out there.
How come it took you a full year to release an album?
A year is very short. For me, my first time of entering the studio was when I recorded my first single- It’s Nothing. It was quite challenging for me to get myself acquainted with writing songs the Nigerian way. I am used to writing with piano because I was playing the piano before Project Fame; I used to write songs as I played the piano and try to come up with lyrics and melody. But the Nigerian way now, I have to create a beat, or the producer creates the beat or right on the spot you create the beat and melody, which was quite challenging. But after the first track, and the second one I just adjusted to it all.
You chose Almost Famous as your song title, why that?
Ok, about the title. What happened was that I was at a photo shoot styled by a fashion stylist and the inner shirt I wore had famous inscribed on it. So, my manager saw it and suggested I use it as an album title and instantly it kind of jelled with me. Though that was a long time ago, when I was doing a photo shoot for my first single.
How many tracks do you have on the album?
I have 10 tracks on the album.
Did you work with several producers on the album?
Yes, I did. The first artiste I featured was Lil Kesh on Follow My Lead. I worked with Skales, who is like a brother to me and Tiwa Savage who is like my sister. She was my mentor on Project Fame. After that, we decided to work on a track Love Me and the song is my favourite track on the album.
Why is that your favourite track?
I think it’s because I took my time to write the song and I have already made some improvement with my song writing skills. Also, the song is outside my comfort zone, it has some Igbo and I am Yoruba. It took me time to write the songs. Sometimes within one hour I am done with a song. But this song just took me sometime coupled with the beats. And to have Tiwa on board too is like a blessing to me because I am her big fan.
Aside the money, what other things would you say winning Project Fame has earned you?
The financial backing is quite small compared to the platform itself. I used to hear you have a big platform but I didn’t understand it until now. When I go to events, the kind of reception I get is really good. A lot of people know me. Even the A-list artistes in Nigeria, when I walk up to them to introduce myself, they say don’t worry, we already know you. And that really makes me happy and grateful to MTN and Ultima Studios. Without them, I won’t be here. I don’t think I am here because I’m talented. I just see it as a blessing because there are lots of talented people out there who don’t have this kind of platform.
You have been in the music industry for a year now, what advice do you have for the producers of Project Fame, which they can add to the grooming of the contestants?
Project Fame has a lot of grounds covered already. I don’t think they need advice. I guess the contestants need it more because Project Fame offers the best tutoring and everything. Everyone knows Project Fame is the best. They exposed me to so many things. I just want to say they should keep doing what they know how to do best. And another thing is Project Fame keeps upgrading and getting better every season. Season 7 is way better than season 6.
For your album, which producer(s) did you work with?
I worked with several producers. I worked with Dj Clem for my first single, I worked with Spellz for the second single. I worked with Dj Coublon on the third. I worked with Spellz again on the song with Tiwa Savage. I worked with Masterkraft on the song with Skales. I worked with Kenny Wonder. I worked with Filkizz too.
What is your source of inspiration?
I am not a stereotyped kind of person, so different things inspire me at different times. It depends on how I feel at that particular time. I have also noticed that I have a flair for writing love songs. They come so easily and I think that’s my area of specialization. I also enjoy listening to RnB, from artistes like Maria, Bruno Mars, and Alicia Keys. Pop songs from the likes of Beyonce, Jennifer Hudson and the likes also inspire me. I don’t have favourite artistes, I listen to all but I find myself listening to more female artistes, I guess that’s because of my range.
The fuji side of me can be attributed to growing up in Ibadan. My first fuji performance was on Project Fame stage and I was even surprised I could do it that well.
Every glory has a story, tell us about yours and how you’ve overcome it?
Yes, that is very true. One of the challenges I am facing now is the expectation of people. People expect a lot from me as the Project Fame winner. People have to grow and evolve but most people don’t understand that. They just want you to be like Wizkid or Davido overnight and things don’t just happen that way. One has to pay his/her dues first. I am paying my dues now and I’m being very patient, I’m not in a hurry to be the next biggest artiste in West Africa. I am not where I used to be and I’m definitely working hard and making progress and I am grateful to God.
What is your philosophy of life?
My philosophy is that everything happens for a reason. God controls everything and like they say we are just pencils in the hands of the Creator. For me, I just found myself doing music not like I have a music background.
How have you been managing your female fans?
My female fans are very important to me, they make 90 percent of my fan base so I try to be very open and approachable to all but I don’t mix work with pleasure because for me music is serious business.
How did it feel to have the Project Fame faculty on your Jupa video?
When the idea to bring in the faculty and Project Fame Alumni for the music video of Jupa came up, I was very excited. I wondered how possible it would be to bring everybody on board. But after the successful shoot I was so happy and grateful to everyone who showed up for it. My experience with the faculty and judges in the Academy motivates me till date and I remain grateful. The video is really making waves out there because people really like it and for that, I am grateful too.
Tell us a little about your background.
I grew up in Ibadan and had my elementary education there. I am a final year student of Agronomy at Ladoke Akintola University. I am currently doing my project. I have three siblings made up of two boys and a girl. I used to play drums in church when I was younger. I didn’t even know I could sing till I got into the university.
Would you like to do collaboration with other artistes?
Of course, yes. I have several artistes that motivate me that I would like to work with soonest. The list is endless though. Nigeria is blessed with great artistes.