Timi Dakolo came into limelight after he won the maiden edition of Idols West Africa several years back. Since then, his life and career have taken a turn for the better. Recently, Esther Onyegbula caught up with Timi and he opened up on how it all started, the journey so far, the challenges, the aspirations and the future.
My grandma’s death and the Nigerian Idol West Africa
During the competition my grandmother who I lived with for many years before I got into the competition passed on, I was down and I wanted to quit the competition but I stayed back because of the encouragement I received from friends and fellow contestants.
And I noticed that each time I went out with other contestants people would tell me not to disappoint them, and that they were voting for me. From top ten to top three and as God would have it, I won.
Unlike most celebrities winning ten thousand dollars and a brand new car, didn’t change him, he was still the same old loving, talented Timi.
“After winning the ten thousand dollars and a brand new car I didn’t change.I was still my old self because I would still board a bike on the street, buy gala on the road. But life generally changed, apparently in the whole of West Africa when I won the Idols.
Anywhere I go, people recognized me, complimenting my unique voice, which was contrary to what one music director once told me that I should join the drama group and stop singing, because according to him, I didn’t have a good voice.
Milestones and career investment
I have achieved a lot. Before the show I didn’t know much about music, but after I won, I had to invest in my music career. First I had to learn the rudiments of music, learn the business side of music, learning what it takes to write good songs. In the process, because I am an introvert, it took me time to realize that in music you can’t do it alone. You need people who know the nitty-gritty of the business.
And I had to learn fast because I didn’t want people to be holding me ransom for any reason. So I had to read a lot of online articles and books because I have always loved to read. In the process, my status changed, I was making money, and things changed, people I used to depend on started depending on me.
Marriage changed my life
After I got married and started having kids, my life changed, I no longer think of myself alone. I no longer do ‘wants’ I do ‘needs’, not that I can’t afford to do ‘want’ but because I need to plan for the future of my kids.
Marriage has made me a full grown man, I have left ‘wants’ for ‘needs’, I think for a lot of people, not just for my immediate family, and I save and invest more. And I look at things differently. I learn a lot from my children, just by watching them do their thing. I create balance between work and family life, so that one doesn’t suffer for the other.
I have always been a very meticulous person; I have always known what I wanted in life. Even before I won West Africa Idols, I had written my goals within a five year time frame, the kind of music that I want to do, where I want to be in five-years time, the knowledge I want to acquire in five years time, the type of instrument I want to be playing in five years time.
While I was busy equipping myself, people were worried that the runner-ups of the competition were in the limelight while I was nowhere. My response to their complaint then, was that for everything under the sun there is a time. I would rather be slow and hit it late than rush and miss it. And if I miss it they are going to be the same people that would crucify me tomorrow if anything goes wrong.
One of the challenges that I faced was that, even though people loved my kind of music they doubted if I could survive in the industry. Because they felt my kind of songs are not meant for this industry. Music must not be shallow, or too deep, music cuts across barriers, because it is more of the spirit than rhythm. Financial challenge of doing it all by myself, and trying to convince people that this is the kind of music that I want to do in this part of the world and all that.
Inspired by evergreen music
I grew up in a house where they used to play those turn-table records and we used to play a lot of deep reggae music, like Burning Spear and Bob Marley. Music that would leave you with a message. And each time I listen to deep music it triggers the thinking part of me. I see myself doing music for a long while; I don’t want to be a flash in the pan. I don’t want to do songs that after three months people would have forgotten it. I want to do music that will outlive me. I want to do evergreen music that will be relevant in the next generation.
Genre of music
I really don’t have a genre of music, what happens is that the music comes, sometimes I write my music, at other times, I work with people. I basically don’t have a part to play when the rhythm comes, sometimes I will be lying down, or doing something else when the inspiration comes. It comes in soft rock, soul, R&B, highlife or reggae .
Coping with female fans
I appreciate my female friends a lot, but I tell them that I can’t promise anything, I am not just married but I am happily married. Although some female fans don’t care if you are married or not, those are the female fans I avoid like plague. Actually I haven’t had any scandals because I spend a lot of time with my family except when I have shows. From a distance I can smell trouble.
The Nigeria music industry
The Nigeria music industry is not well structured, like the music industry of the western world or South Africa. When you talk of royalty payments, artistes are not benefiting as much as they should from their intellectual works. A lot of things are involved in music, from the record label, to the song producers, to the publishers, to
the radio stations. In a standard clime, a lot of people get paid, from a song, the producers, song writers, artiste, record label, but in Nigeria it is not like that. Basically, what artiste make money from here, is ring back tunes and shows, that is because a lot of things are not in place. The biggest problem we are also facing is piracy.
I want to continue doing good music, being a good husband, and winning awards. Sincerely I am interested in doing good music, if in the process awards are won, it is an added bonus.
Message to my fans
Fans….get ready, I am coming out with a new album titled ‘Love and Consequences’. Love is one part of it, the consequences of love is another part of it, inspired by my experiences and that of others. I am also working on the video for Iyawo Mi.