Syemca got some deserved attention when he appeared on the singing reality show “The Voice” years ago. Today, his voice is essential in the music industry. In this ROTIMI IGE interview, he talks about his artistic talent, challenges in the industry, his upcoming projects and his relationship with his brother, Chike, who is also a music star.
Since appearing on ‘The Voice’, you have become a fixture in the Nigerian entertainment industry. Tell us about your journey after leaving ‘The Voice’.
It was precise, I returned to the streets, in the tumult of the music and along the way, I met some who were ready to work with me, both producers and artists. I held back from releasing music because I intentionally wanted to define my sound and that takes time.
Many believe that reality competitions are a shortcut to fame.
If you think like that, you will never be famous. The popularity that comes with reality TV shows is momentary. There’s a lot of work to do after the show, because now you have to prove to those who supported you during the show and of course to a new audience that you have something to offer. It goes beyond your voice, now they want to see your artistry.
You continued to feature A-list artists on your songs. How did you become known so quickly to obtain such collaborations?
I believe in time and chance. I came to Lagos to record my single, ‘All The Way’, one thing led to another and landed in the studio with 2baba. We were all freestyling to one of the songs on his album, he liked my vibes and asked for me to be on the record. Shout out to Larry Gaga that God used to make the situation possible. 2baba, on the other hand, is an easy-going person. He has his way of lifting your spirits and making you want more. I would say he’s part of the reason why I see things differently now.
How would you describe your music/sound?
I make world music. I’m very particular when it comes to how I sound but at the same time I don’t like to put myself in a box. Music is universal and I like people to accept and connect with my music that way. For me, creating music has always been about experimenting until you succeed. I’m eclectic by nature, so the truth is that I listen to all types of sounds and I make all types of sounds.
What kind of music do you listen to and who?
(Laughs) Michael Jackson is number one on this list and it’s because of his expressiveness with his music, it’s something I’ve always admired and wanted for myself as an artist. Sometimes I can be an old soul, I listen to Olee Gee and many others too. I also listen to anything that has soul. It doesn’t matter how big the artist is, as long as I hear what I like, I’m automatically connected.
Your new single, ‘All The Way’, let’s talk about how you came up with the song and what inspired you.
“All The Way” is the story of a girl who goes in search of true love, but what really inspired me to write this song was the effort of trying to make good music . As I said earlier, I went to Lagos to record the song and it was not easy because I had no accommodation or money in my pocket. I practically left Abuja on an overnight bus and landed in Lagos in the morning just to get a free recording at Larry Gaga’s studio.
The urge to record the song was the only thing that kept me going. A lot happened to me along the way, but I knew I had a goal and was willing to endure the pain just to achieve my goal. So when I listen to ‘All The Way’ today, I listen beyond its literal meaning. It’s someone’s story that I’m telling, but there’s a part of me that belongs to this story. We’re all on a journey to find or achieve something, I guess.
The music industry is more competitive than ever. How do you plan to leave your mark now that the world is listening to our Nigerian music?
It’s simple, I will continue to make good music. Like you said, the industry is more competitive and it seems like the only way to hold on to the top spot is to be consistent with creating great music. I also have the element of surprise, you can’t tell what Syemca’s next music will sound like, but you’ll definitely love it. I believe it’s a stand out.
What challenges do you still face as a creative?
Getting the people you work with to understand where you’re coming from and where you’re going with your sound is one of the hardest things. They naturally want to suggest 100% how you should sound about your own creation and that’s no good at all.
Finances are something else. Gone are the days when everyone really cared about your talent; if you don’t have the money to produce your music, no one will probably hear it. The worst thing you can do to yourself as an artist in this era and era is not having a pre-recorded tape to sample your music to anyone who will listen to it. There is also a lot of segregation in this profession, but that’s another story.
Apart from music, do you have any other hobbies?
Yes, I play a lot. I hope to own an esports organization in the near future. As Africans, we are serious losers in this area of entertainment. We play for fun, we need to start seeing gaming as an industry that can be monetized like westerners do.
From your perspective and experience, is talent/passion really enough in the industry today?
Well, the bigwigs will tell you that’s not the case and somehow they’ve been making artists believe that for years. Yeah, there’s a lot going on behind the music for you to start making money, but I still believe talent is number one on the list of things. My advice to any artist like me would be to get into the music business. You’re not in full control of your art if you don’t understand how to sell it.
Your brother, Chike, revealed that you played a huge role in his confidence to pursue his music career. How does it feel to be his brother?
Not easy at all. My parents weren’t the type to take music seriously. I had to become a rebel for them to at least think about it. When I see what my brother was able to accomplish with his music today, I feel like I was a good brother. As for what it’s like to be his brother, I really don’t feel anything different because I’ve known him his whole life. Definitely, people always tend to compare our art but in time they will understand that our music is as different as our life experiences.
Should we expect collaborative projects from you two?
I can’t say right now, sometimes we don’t control these things, you know. But if it happens, I already imagine what it will look like. Wahala go ahead oh.
What should fans expect this year?
Plus music, I’m currently working on an EP which should be out in April.