‘…My music is a bridge between contemporary and indigenous African music’
‘…Nigerians should return to live band, the soul of good music’
By Godwin Okondo
IN a country where what currently passes for contemporary African music leaves a lot of sour taste in most people’s mouth largely in terms of the somewhat empty and lewd lyrical content, there are a few contemporary artists who still light up the embers of love that once burned bright in people’s hearts for music. One such artist is Afolaranmi Abiodun Olaoluwa (also known as Afowoslide–Abbey Trombone) and his Abinibi Groovy Band. He is set to launch his debut album titled ‘ARA’ at a concert and album listening party on July 22, 2022. He will host the party at Alliance Francaise, Mike Adenuga Centre, Ikoyi, Lagos. Time is 7pm.
Abbey has been in the Nigerian music space for a while now and has paid his dues having worked with musical giants like Tiwa Savage, Patoranking, Kola Ogunkoya, among others.
“So, sometimes I provide back up in practical music. I joined an orchestra, and I’ve worked with Prof. Laz Ekwueme,” he sayd. “I’m testing, teaching and conceptualising my pattern, and that is what makes me more unique than the indigenous musicians. I see my music as Afrocentric, music that has African and contemporary flavours. I call it Afrocentric rhythm or music. It’s a bridge between the contemporary and indigenous African music. It has a flavour of jazz, reggae, Afrobeat, and I just bring these indigenous flavours together and conceptualize them into my own style of music. I actually call it Afrocentric.
“When you go through my songs, I use Yoruba and English together, and it’s actually simplified to understand, and this is happening also in the hip-hop world, too. Some people rap in Igbo, and I who’s a Yoruba man don’t understand it; so, I just nod my head, but what I’m nodding my head for is not even educative. There’s nothing to learn from it than the beat. If I’m able to interpret my lyrics to you, you will want to put the song on repeat (mode) always, because they’re educative lyrics that will encourage and motivate you, and give you more morals in your day to day activity.”
Speaking on the title of his album, Abbey Trombone said, “People always ask me: is it ara (wonder), like Ara the lady music drummer? Because ara in Yoruba is wonder, surprise, but mine is an abbreviation. I leave the answer to people that want to answer it in their minds, but if you ask me, I will tell you what ARA means.
“My ARA is the abbreviation for Afrocentric Rhythm Album. People don’t know about it, and if they don’t ask, then I won’t tell. If anyone comes after me, I will tell them what it means,” he added.
He also spoke about the inspiration behind his style of music, saying, “I learnt from about four people. I learnt from a musician from Benin Republic; he’s like their own Fela in Benin Republic, a well recognized, old musician. I actually studied more of his music. There’s Ambrose Campbell too, whom I also studied his music, and there’s the ‘baba’ of them all, Fela Anikulapo whom I also studied, and I listen to Fuji and Apala music, and they keep giving me different vibes. I listen to all these music and have now brought my own (music) together.”
The artiste also shared some stories of his journey in the music industry, maintaining that “As a solo artiste, it’s been about three to four years since I set out, but as a musician, I’ve been doing it for over a decade, playing my trombone. I used to be a band boy backing up various artistes. I’ve worked with various musicians in this country.
“I studied music at Peter King’s College of Music; then I had a certificate from Musical Society of Nigeria (MUSON) in 2009 when I did some certificate exams with them, before I had my full degree in Management Information System from Benin Republic.”
On what guests should expect at ARA launch concert, he said, “those who attend should expect a new phase of African music, especially with the uniqueness of my trombone sound. A lot of people have seen trombone, maybe in a band or orchestra, but not in African music like mine when a musician will be performing on stage with a trombone and doing something unique with African music, with that same instrument. So, it’s like a new phase of African music. I’m a trombonist who deals in African music, but in a contemporaneous way. Guests should just expect something different, unique and dynamic with the use of trombone in African music.”
ABBEY Trombone also spoke about what he makes of contemporary artistes who are making waves in the Nigerian music space, saying there’s a lot to be desired in what they do. He argued that it’s the void he sees that his music will fill. He said although the young musicians are making a lot of money while those making indigenous African music like him are poor, it’s because Nigerians have poor music tastes that feed on lies.
According to him, “Indigenous musicians are poor, because the system in this country doesn’t like the truth, doesn’t celebrate the truth. So, we lie to ourselves; we prefer paying for lies, promote lies and live in lies rather than promote truth.
“You see that Femi Kuti can go on tour (outside the country) for the next seven to eight months, and people would pay for it, and this has been on. Before Fela died too, they have been paying for his music outside Nigeria. You can count the few shows Femi does in Nigeria within a year, but you can’t count the number of shows he does outside Nigeria.”
THE trombone specialist called for a change of people’s mindset regarding contemporary indigenous Africa music, and urged Nigerians to return the live band as the music worth listening to and paying for rather than those who merely mime to their music.
“This is where we value live bands, and when we do this, indigenous musicians will have their stand,” he said. “A perfect example is Dede Mabiaku; I was so excited seeing him perform back to back around April and May, and he even performed in events organized by Lagos State Government. Government doesn’t listen to the truth, but I was surprised seeing them inviting Dede Mabiaku to perform; that means they want to hear some truth, and they can’t avoid it. So, if live music is actually inculcated into our events in Nigeria, indigenous music will definitely have a stand. So, the work is in the hands of government and corporate organizations.
“Imagine a corporate organization paying someone whose her s*x video has flooded the internet, and then paying them as brand ambassadors while someone with a responsible band who is desirous of educating society and creating positive influence is ignored! That’s as bad as we have got in Nigeria, promoting immorality in the name of music.”