Rave crooner, Iyanya Mbuk leads the pack at MMM. Ably assisted by Emma Nyra, Augustine Miles and others, they allowed YES International!’s GBENGA SHABA a peep into what goes on in their camp recently. Enjoy…
2013 was indeed a great year for your musical career. How would you describe the year?
I always wake up everyday believing God for the best things in life. My part is to work hard and keep believing and I’m thankful for everything so far. God has been faithful. It was a blessed and beautiful year for me. It was amazing.
What are some of the things you achieved in the course of the year?
The endorsement I got from MTN; my album also sold out in Nigeria and outside the country. I had a successful American tour, UK tour; I did shows in so many African countries and they all sold out. So, it was a beautiful year.
Things seemed not to be working well for you before 2013, how were you able to cope then?
It was only my passion for music that kept me going. The fact that I love what I’m doing. That way, even when the pains came, I can say it was a price I had to pay for being who I am today. So, it’s basically my love for music, performing, headlining shows and the fans too challenged and encouraged me to keep doing it.
Were these challenges part of what made you switch from being an RnB singer to a dance hall artiste?
After doing R n B for some years, I discussed with my team on why are we not doing so many shows? Why are we not headlining shows? Why are we not touring? Why are we not making money? Why are we not looking good? So, I realized I was not doing what the people wanted, so I started doing what I’m doing now, which I believe is what the people want. It took me a couple of years to achieve what I’m enjoying right now.
What do you think it takes to sing a good song?
I don’t know about every other artiste, but for me, music is spiritual. It has a spirit that when it comes out of you, you can’t fake it.
What are some of the major setbacks in your musical career?
Most of the shows I headlined were shows I begged to perform at when I was struggling for recognition. I was everywhere begging for shows to perform. So many people would come around claiming to sponsor me or shoot a video for me, but it was all a lie. Those are some of the things you hear when you are trying to make it in this industry. But like I used to tell people, if you have a picture of who you wanna be, everyday you wake up seeing yourself as the best journalist and you know that being the best journalist is around you, somewhere, it will happen. So, it’s quite expensive to blow. Most of those people who made failed promises would have made a lot of money from the industry, but they felt too big to pull back to the industry because they find it so hard to follow up on the artiste’s career.
Many artistes would blow for some time and later fade away. What has been your staying power?
I have to thank all D-Tunes crew. We have been through everything to get to where we are today. Nobody thought Iyanya is going to live good like I’m doing today. Me, Franklin, Bassey, Emma Nyra, all of us, we had stayed in one room before, sharing the same toilet and other stuff like that. Everyone of us has been through one thing or the other, but the fact that we sat down one day and money started coming in and we said, men! We are made o! That was why we called our record label, Made Men Music. So, now, everyday of our lives, we wake up knowing that we are made. But we fear to fail and that makes us to work harder.
How would you describe the period between your winning MTN Project Fame and when you were made?
Those were the really hard times, but I never lost faith. But to be sincere, I felt like quitting and relaxing because I would not just switch from R n B to commercial songs like that. I had to learn it. So many people called me to know if I’m alright. There was too much frustration, even from family members and my so called friends. You know some of my best friends turned enemies because after MTN Project Fame, everybody thought I had made so much money, but they didn’t know that Project Fame was the beginning for me; a platform where I never knew what laid ahead of me.
What is that thing that you think most people don’t really know about you?
I don’t get too excited. Maybe that is why so many people think that I’m proud or snobbish. But I don’t get too excited about things. I don’t see a new car and start jumping. Everything is normal for me and that is the only problem I do have with the other members of MMM label.
You started with a RAV 4, which is the biggest automobile in your garage now?
Let me tell you something: God has blessed me with a Range Rover of 2010 and I’ve also driven a 2013, 2014 cars. It’s a blessing for me, but I’m not a car freak. I still have a Prado Jeep that was given to me recently. I still have the fond memory of that my RAV 4 and I still wish it were right there in my garage so that I can be seeing it everyday.
What happened to the RAV 4?
I won’t lie to you, there was a time I had to shoot a video and I had no money. It was Kukere video and I used cabs for another one year all around the town just to make sure that Kukere video was out there. So, I was using cabs everyday and people were surprised to see me in cabs after I had been riding in RAV 4 for some time; just to assist my career and make sure people keep seeing me on TV and not forget me. So, when you see a successful artiste, just pray for them and bless them because the abuses, the humiliations and the patience they have endured is unprecedented. There was a day I had a show in Lagos and I was in Dubai. I made a mistake, I booked the flight for Monday and the show was on Sunday. I rushed to the airport and they said no, the ticket was for Monday and we begged and begged them, but they said even if they have to help me, there would be no business class for me, but I had a business class ticket. So, I had to enter economy and someone among the passengers told me that I was not supposed to be there again; that my class should be business class. That was when I realized that I could not live below the standard the society had set for me anymore. If I say I want to fly economy today, it becomes a gist. So, I have to work hard and make more money to live up to your expectations. It is not that I’m living my life for you, but it is the life that I chose, so I have to do it.
At what point in time did you discover that you could sing?
I’ve been singing since I was five years old. I have always known that I wanted to sing and I did my first professional song in 2009, and that showed me that I’m going to sing for a living.
How was it like when you started?
I started singing in America, but the people that are paying the most are the ones from Nigeria. So, I now decided to move to Nigeria so that they could be seeing me and calling me over to headline shows for them. When I moved to Nigeria, I began to receive calls from the same people that I had been playing for when I was in America, but now with a different price and they would have to pay for my accommodation and every other thing. So, it was fun and also from Nigeria, I get the most respect and since then, I have decided to stay here in Nigeria.
So, you actually came back to Nigeria because of respect?
Yes! It’s very important.
How would you describe your level of acceptability in Nigeria?
People respect and accept me because they believe I’m bringing something very different to the table; I’m not like every artiste out there and that I’m bringing out a new musical sensation.
You are beautiful and sexy. How do you cope with men?
(Laughs) I grew up with two brothers and my dad, so it’s no intimidation for me. I handle men with total politeness, but if you are rude, I will let you know in a polite way because we are entertainers and it’s wrong for you to let people have a bad impression about you.
What would you say stands you out from the other female artistes in Nigeria?
I did American Idol and other stuffs because I started professionally. I did a lot of trainings. So, all these I believe stand me out.
When you started out, you had a lot of challenge from the media. How were you able to handle it?
I was able to handle it because I did not respond to side talks by so many people. I was focused on what I came down to Nigeria to do.
What about the rumour that you were dating Iyanya?
It was very funny. They even put it that I stole Iyanya from his girlfriend and my mum now entered Nigeria and she saw it in a magazine and said, “Emma, so you stole Iyanya from his girlfriend?” And I said, “Mummy, no! I’m not dating Iyanya, he is my mentor and if I do anything wrong, he is the only one who can correct me because he had experienced it before. So, he teaches me all I’ve got to know”. Myself and Iyanya have never dated before and never did anything in that manner before because we are partners in the business. Those that wrote the story even used a wrong picture; it wasn’t my picture that they used in the story, but I’ve moved on from all those forms of rumour now as you can see.
What actually happened when you said you were no longer a member of MMM?
I had an interview on Channels TV that I’m no longer with them before my contract was renewed. Then, I went back on twitter to inform everyone about the renewed contract. It was the interview I did then that media fed on, but I have renewed my contract with MMM. We don’t have any issue. I just renewed my contract. So, I’m with them, I started with them and I’m staying with them because we formed the label together and since then we have been together.
“Your Waist”. How easy or vigorous was it for you to perform?
(Laughs) It was fun. It took all of us just like 10 minutes to do. It was actually our party song in the house, so when they decided to release it, I was shocked because that was just our in-house party song. It was after the song was doing well that we now decided to shoot the video and it’s doing well. As at now, it has over 3 million viewers on Youtube. It’s always fun for me to perform songs like that and having a feedback that people love the song makes it very encouraging. It is a good opportunity for me to showcase myself.
Any plan for marriage?
I think it’s better to keep your relationships private as a woman until it gets mature enough for people to see, because people may decide to run you down.
So, are you in any relationship?
None right now.
Who is your ideal man?
My ideal man has to be funny (Laughs), full of humour and also must have his own job because you can’t rely on what I bring to the table. But any job is okay by me, because working is not easy, most especially as a man in Nigeria. So, when you have your own job, smell nice and funny, that’s all I want in a man.
What is that unique thing about you?
I’m an athlete. I played volley ball when I was in college and in the university I played basketball.
How would you describe 2013?
It was a successful year for me because I had 3 singles and 3 videos released. I had so much airplay. I have had no reason to run back to America as well. I had a very successful career in 2013.
What are your plans for 2014?
I want to work with more women. We need to pull ourselves up, put out more videos and my album would drop by the end of the year and I also want to start a foundation that will cater for the motherless babies, with its building in Asaba, Delta State. I have decided to choose Asaba because it is very close to my heart. Both of my parents are from Asaba, so I think I should be doing more to help the youth out there.
How would you describe your experience under MMM Records?
We are just like a family, because we all are almost around the same age. We deposit knowledge in ourselves, we relate like a real family. I am the baby and Tekno is the baby’s baby. We give ourselves household names. It’s really a funny thing, I like it and I’m grateful that we started together, because the love and respect is there.
If not music, what else would you have been doing?
I will still be in the entertainment industry; maybe in movies or presentations. But if not in entertainment, then I would be a teacher because I like to teach kids.
Who is Teckno?
My name is Augustine Miles. I have known Iyanya and Ubi Franklin for at least two years now and we have been doing stuff together. Not that I just woke up one day and decided to sign under Iyanya’s record label; it’s been going on for a while, but it just happened officially now. I feel MMM for me is a family, so I would rather be here than anywhere else.
When did you discover you could sing?
I started doing music and playing piano since I was 8 years old. I already had piano classes as at this age, so music for me has been from childhood. My dad forced me to play piano and guitar in my childhood and since then I fell in love with these instruments.
So, you dad actually wanted you to sing?
Yeah! Completely. And he is excited now that I’m doing good.
What are some of the challenges you have been through in life?
I have been through a lot, my brother. Struggling to perform at shows, no recognition, your music is being listened to and rejected. But I’m grateful now that all those things are in the past. I now get calls for shows, my videos are being aired on Soundcity, radio stations and all that. So, now, I have forgotten my challenges as I see that as a basic thing for any upcoming artiste.
People believed you had joined Davido’s HKN group after you featured him in the “Holiday” song. What went wrong?
Nothing really happened. Davido is a friend who believed we could do something great together. There was never a time I considered joining HKN, but myself and Davido are family all the way.
What kind of songs do you do?
I see all the genres as one. If music is good, it’s good for me also. So, I don’t have a genre. I can fit into different kinds of songs. I just sing to any song that has a good beat with a nice recording stuff. I sing the way it comes: Reggae, RnB, hip hop, dance hall and all.
What about reports that you tend to copy Wizkid and Davido’s voice?
I use different voices, but I have never sounded like Wizkid or Davido nor anyone else. In my entire career, I will never sound like anybody; even the person I look up to, Chris Brown, I can’t imitate his voice or sound like him. So, how would I have been copying Davido or Wizkid’s voice? Maybe they sound like me. But definitely, I don’t sound like anybody.
What is that unique thing about your music?
I’m different from other artistes because I can read music, I can play all the basic musical instruments: drums, guitars, piano and I can perform and dance as well. So, I think that is really an edge for me. I can perform on stage which is not so with many other artistes.
Who do you see as your role model?
Seriously, I look up to no one; I only respect some people like Tuface, Iyanya, Wizkid, Davido, Kcee, D’Jazzy, W4 and every other artiste that is doing good because it is not easy to be where they are. So, if yours must be out there and people really enjoy it, I respect you.
What has music done for you?
Music has been my life, it is my way of life. It has given me more rather than taking anything away from me. I didn’t get into music because I was hungry or needed a career. I was built with music.
What are you expectations under MMM?
Everything. Love, peace, family, good music, shows, but what I expect the most right now is love, because I know every other thing can be gotten easily, but love is a priority.
What are your plans for 2014?
I will start dropping singles toward the end of January or early February. I’m going to come really hard – in fast pace, slow pace, mid pace, all kinds of pace.
You just celebrated your 20 years birthday. What are you most thankful for at 20?
Everything God has given me and has made me to achieve.
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