Chinedu Okoli popularly known as Flavour Nabania is our guest for the Special interview this week, the sensational award winning artiste and Baby Oku crooner explains why his music is essentially for ladies and how it is capable of winning a Grammy award. He spoke with our editor DESMOND EKWUEME…Excerpts
Why do you shoot almost all your videos in South Africa?
Well I have a deal with a South African outfit which includes shooting my videos more so, we all want a better job because videos help in marketing every job one does. A good video sells an album and brings out the best from a piece of work
You have been involved in so many collabos with your colleagues, is this not limiting your personal job?
I don’t understand. I do my thing and it does not stop me from lending a helping hand when and if any of my colleagues request for it. What most people don’t know about collabos is that it adds to an artiste’s market value. When you do a Collabo and it becomes the hit in town surely you will be celebrated alongside the owner of the job. Collabo if I will borrow the expression of Timaya is part of promo and every artiste needs it.
Of all your collabos which is most memorable to you?
I have had a lot both my personal work which I invited other artistes and those I was invited to be part of. So it is difficult to pick just one as my most memorable.
Not even the ones with Tiwa Savage ‘oyi’ or Omawumi’s ‘bottom bele’?
(Laughs) I must confess I have same feeling for those two.
May be because I worked in those video with hot ladies.
Baby Oku you mean?
(Laughs) Not exactly what I mean but seriously ‘oyi’ with Tiwa was very emotional because we both put ourselves in that piece. It was really fun. We had fun shooting that video and that is what professionalism is all about.
You just mentioned emotion, what do you really mean?
I am trying to say we interpreted our roles in that video and that is what it is all about. Musical video is like acting, I mean what we see daily in Nollywood. So to get the best you must put yourself into the character you are interpreting.
Your brand of music is unique and stands you out, how will you describe it?
I have said it over and over again that my style is a blend of hi-life, hip-hop, r&b all infused together. That is why many people believe that I am the only one that can do this kind of music. I try to make my works more Nigerian and more original as possible.
In a recent interview not with National Weekender, you said your music is for ladies, what exactly do you mean?
My music is for all. May be I was misquoted. However I meant that my music appeals more to ladies who have continued to show greater appreciation for my works. In a party when you play music the first set of persons to stand up and dance are ladies and it really thrills me and I will continue to appreciate them by churning out good tunes that will keep them rocking.
In that interview you also called yourself ‘Ladies man’ how do you mean?
We are still saying the same thing. When ladies appreciate your music and they dance to it and they even want to identify with you at all times my brother, you cannot help but to thank God. Ladies make music sell world over. If they don’t love your music then you have to look for another profession. Si I should see myself and any other artiste whose music is up there as ladies man. I am proud to say it anywhere, anytime and anyday that ladies make my music hot. The truth is that we are in a world of ladies. It has been so right from creation. They make or mar a man, after all there is the saying that behind every successful man there is a woman and behind the fall of a mighty man there is also a woman. For my music it is the female folks that make it thick.
You just talked about a woman being behind every successful man, who is the woman behind you?
(Laughs) I am yet to decide. I am still sampling but I know that loads and loads of ladies out-there have made music what it is today. I salute them. It really lifts the spirit when ladies will scream to the DJ in a party please give us Flavour. That to me is amazing and it is what keeps driving me on.
You have taken over the South East and obviously you are one of the topmost ranked artistes in the country, where do you see your music in the next five years?
Only God can answer that question. I am not God so I will just keep enjoying what I do at the moment while I keep my fingers crossed waiting for what God has in stock for me.
The music industry is highly competitive today with more and more artistes coming up, how do you hope to sustain the tempo keep your brand of music relevant?
We do our things differently. I have chosen a brand or type of music which has brought me where I am today. I am not bothered about how many artistes are springing up because we are all doing our individual thing. More so, the sky is wide enough to accommodate all birds. The more they say the merrier. The people now have varieties to choose from that is what music is all about. No one is competing with anybody, you do your thing I do mine. I think our industry is the most peaceful one hence you see two or three artistes coming together to do a Collabo. That is the beauty of music. We are working for ourselves and for the industry and I am glad it really growing. Our guys are celebrated and appreciated all over the world. Our music is hot and fresh any day and everywhere.
Your fans have described you are very sexy, do you agree?
(Laughs) Yeah, I am sexy and real hot. That is my trademark. You have to be sexy and smoky to make an impact in our industry in the kind of music I do. For ladies to identify with your music and you the artiste you must be sexy, smoky and trendy. You must show what stuff you are made of. You must prove what you have got inside and upstairs. Music is an art and it requires total package. It is like a product if badly package but of good quality may not sell but if well packaged and of less quality can sell real hot.
It is believed that you are naturally a shy person hence you put on sunshades almost always, is this true?
Well if you say I am a shy person then you are correct. Only those who are very close to me understand that I am shy.
Is that why we wear sunshades?
It is part of the reasons because when you are on stage most times you really have to take your eyes away from the crowd to enable you concentrate. It is just like when you are in the church and people are praying, it is expected you close your eyes else you may be carried away by the praying power and body language of others and that may prevent you from praying.
That takes us to the issue of religion, how religious are you since musicians are not known to be very religious?
I am not religious but I know my God and He knows me. If God does not know me then, He won’t have given the talent to do what I am doing talking about being an artiste. And I try most times to appreciate Him in my songs. Being religious is different from being close to your creator. I cannot claim to be holier that thou but at the same time I recognize that God is the reason why I am living. Therefore all I do is for His glory alone.
You were not part of the last Headies and NMVA awards, how do you react to this development?
You can’t win all the time. There should be room for others to win and shine. But when you are nominated it simply means you are as good as the winner and you must celebrate with him or her and of course show your appreciation for making the nomination list in the first place. I am not really perturbed by how many awards I win or who won what. My concentration is on doing hot tunes that will spur listeners to jump to their feet and dance like there is no tomorrow. Once that is guaranteed and other thing is secondary. Like I always say I am born to entertain people, thrill people and add value to their lives. Music is the only thing that can guarantee these. I should therefore count myself lucky to be gifted to make people happy. Once I do this every other thing including awards will naturally follow.
Do you see yourself winning a Grammy award?
Everything is possible on earth. The only thing that delays a man from fulfilling his destiny is if he does not believe in himself. A Nigerian that plays talking drum won a Grammy sometime ago. I hope I got that right, so if he can then I also can. Winning Grammy award is not about your brand or kind of music but the appeal your music attracts and how much of it you are able to push internationally. Music is music worldwide. As soon as you can give your music a global face then be sure you can win any award.
How much of global push has your music enjoyed?
Like you pointed out earlier my videos are most times shot in South Africa and to a large extent it means that it enjoys great appeal in South Africa. I have been going on tours on special invitations which again is a poof that my music is appreciated outside our shores. Soon my fans will see more collabos with international artistes. These and more speaks volume of the global push we are talking about and I won’t be surprised if the gains come earlier than expected.
Most of your songs are tired around love, what inspires this?
Love they say makes the world go round. You get stories or love all around you and like I said earlier we are living in women’s world. However I don’t want to accept that all my songs are tired around love. I have done something that could go for gospel where I praised God for making me what I am. I used myself to send a message to many out there who are somebody from nobody. Life itself is a lesson and our daily activities serve as messages that I tap from to make my songs rich. I want to say categorically that I get inspired from happenings around. But I am ladies man so I do tunes that make the female folks happy.
What makes Flavour unique?
My music, my message and my personality stand me out.
Many say you are humble and some others say you are snobbish, do you react to this claims?
Those who are far from me are not wrong to assume that I am snobbish but those close to me understand that Flavour is just a simple easy going guy. No apologies to anyone who says I am snobbish after all you don’t expect me to be close or familiar to everyone that comes around me.
What should your fans be expecting next?
It is in the mill, they should be patient but I promise it will blow their mind.
Thank you for making out time to speak with us
The pleasure is always mine.