AMINU is some I am intrigued by and how he has progressed…
over the last few years. Not only was he approached for Simon Cowell (for a deal) but has worked with a range of talented producers. I ask him about his new single, Love U, and its compelling video. Aminu is based in London but born in Nigeria. I ask about his heritage and whether he brings his African roots to the music – and if music was a big part of his childhood.
He tells me about future touring plans; when he first got the performance bug and the experience of working with producer Rob Ra – who seems to have a direct and honest approach (like Simon Cowell). Aminu gives a little peek into his upcoming album, DYFM, and what we can expect to hear from it.
Hi, Aminu. How are you? How has your week been?
My weekend has been really nice and relaxing – although, I am getting a little cold from time to time as I'm always on the move.
Battling through different climates can be somewhat of a challenge. L.o.L.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
My name is Aminu and I'm a singer-songwriter - born in Nigeria and raised in the U.K.
Tell me about the new single, Love U, and its video.
The video for Love U has been a really wonderful experience.
It came about from an old song I had written a while back. It came alive again after I played it to Rob Ra - who I’ve have worked with on other successful projects.
We then gave it a much-needed revamp and reintroduced it back into the forefront - with a fresher sound.
Is there going to be any more music arriving shortly?
The single is taken from my album, titled D.Y.F.M. - which stands for Do You Feel Me.
I'm still finalising the tracks on the album - and making sure that it gets across to all the fans!
You were born in Nigeria. Was music a big part of your childhood there?
Yes, I was born in Nigeria.
I remember growing up and hearing lots of Soul and Disco being played during our birthday parties as children. Michael Jackson’s songs and his videos - like Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough and Billie Jean - just drove me to perform in front of the T.V. It, sometimes, felt like I was the only person around.
London is where I wrote my first song as a teenager. I went on to complete my studies in U.K.
Was it difficult leaving home/Nigeria and going into music?
It was tricky but my parents saw, from my school days, that I had something. They regularly came to see my plays and shows at school. I always had a good balance between studies and creative time.
It was after university - and music wasn't paying off hugely - that they recommended I got back into the corporate world (which I did).
But, I always had time to create music after sorting out my mobile studio set up. Everywhere I’d go; so too did my music.
I believe Simon Cowell came across your music and offered you a deal. How did he come to your attention?
Simon’s situation was a really good place during my history!
It meant something to me - and it meant something huge! I wasn't offered a deal by Simon, but rather, he had come across my C.D. and advised that I had a communicative session with the top management at BMG then. I received an invite to discuss - but no agreement had come out of it.
I treated it like ammunition! It was the world telling me I got the goods so I needed to get there myself! After that; everything in my life changed!
What was it like working with Rob Ra on your new music?
Rob Ra is so unique!
He's a straight-shooter. Similar to Simon, he tells you if it’s a ‘yay’ or ‘nay’! L.o.L.
I get on well with people who are honest! He advised me to attack the market big-time - and that I had a hit on my hands so don’t keep it on the shelf. He came up with a couple of remixes for my Afrobeat track, Shake U.
I had a video shot as well, and the rest was history. Whenever we get into the studio, it's always fresh!
Your music crosses genres and sounds. Is it important to blend styles and nod to your Nigerian roots?
It’s very important to have a mixture of stuff that everyone can bop heads to.
I want my music to reach the kids and the adults. I also want to relate to my Nigerian roots so people outside can also look into how we live, work and play out there!
What kind of music did you grow up listening to?
I grew up listening to Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye; Frank Sinatra, Boyz II Men; Tina Turner, New Edition; Prince - and many more!
What inspires my music is reality. Reality doesn't always have to be serious! You can still live your fantasies through reality, I believe!
What have been your highlights in music thus far?
When I spent some time in the Middle East, I once had a three-piece band: a fantastic bassist; pianist, and myself. We had to serenade the guest at none-other than the Iconic Burj Al Arab Hotel - the only seven-star hotel I know to-date.
It is where I had a residency gig - that allowed me to spread my wings, make contacts and perform almost every evening. I played Jazz, Soul and R&B classics - including some original material.
Yeah. Those were my best times, doing international gigs - whether in Nigeria, U.K. or the Middle East.
Can we expect to see you tour anytime soon?
I am currently organising a U.K. tour but this will happen if certain factors - or perhaps dots - connect properly.
The U.K. is still getting to know me and I don't want to rush - like to go with the flow a little bit.
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Ermm...I would just say watch out for some artists I plan to bring over from Nigeria. The talent there is insane - and it’s digestible overseas.
But for now, I will keep it a surprise!
If you could select the three albums that mean the most to you; which would they be and why?
The three albums that meant so much to me are…
Usher – 8701; Michael Bublé - It’s Time; Aaliyah - One in a Million.
These three particular albums drew a completely different side of me as a performer - and a writer.
Usher made me feel like a superhero; Michael Bublé has the voice that I always wanted - and sang the songs I always wanted to sing. Aaliyah’s record fed me with lyrical genius and I know it doesn't make sense - but it did! With top writer/producers like R Kelly, Missy Elliot and Timbaland grooming her - you knew it would be Lit!
What advice would you give new artists coming through?
My advice to new artists is that they should never stop believing, and, I know its cliché, but the moment you stop believing you can - then there’s no point to continue.
Do whatever makes you happy and love the people who love you the most.
Finally, and for being a good sport, you can name a song (not yours as I’ll do that) and I’ll play it here.
Can you play me Bruno Mars’ That’s What I Like?
I love this song!
Thank you for giving me this time (Aminu).