Already a brand ambassador to a number of brands in the country, you recently added a deal with NairaBox. How do you feel about that?
Yes and I have to say it every time I get the chance, I’m really very excited about it. It is a cool brand and with its focus on youth, it makes it even more desirable. I am always glad to be associated with everything youth oriented.
When they called me up and asked if I would like to be their brand ambassador, it was not a question I could answer straight away but I wanted to know more about them. I did a bit of research and I saw that they stand for most of the things I stand for and I could not just say no to them.
Also, Nairabox will be selling music on their platform soon and as an artiste, that is a big plus for me. I will also be on the social media pushing the brand – that is part of my obligations as an ambassador of the brand.
You have over four endorsement deals already, don’t you think signing another one may start to make it look like the Yemi Alade brand is all-comers’ affair?
Like I said, I undertake some research before I sign any deal, so any deal you see me sign, it means I am not just interested in what I can get but it is absolutely because I believe in that brand. So if there are 100 brands lining up for me to sign on, if they key in to what I believe in, sure.
Why not? Also, I know I have to do a lot of work to do while under contract but I do know how to schedule by time to ensure I meet up with my obligations. I do not fail people.
And of course, you would agree with me that at the end of the day, it is better to be very busy than to have no work at all. Also I try to make sure that I do not let brands clash.
I make sure that I do not sign on competing brands. It is only after a contract has expired that I can then listen to competition; it is not just about saying it; it is about being loyal. While I’m in contract, I stay fiercely loyal to any brand I am involved with.
You dropped the “Mama Africa” album a while ago and it is doing well, what are you working on next?
For now, everything I am doing still revolves around Mama Africa. I have dropped four videos from the album now. I dropped ‘Koffi Anan’, ‘Nagode’, and ‘Ferrari’ and ‘Nagode’ which I have done a Swahili version for.
I am still working on releasing more videos on songs from the album. So for now it is Mama Africa all the way.
You seem to have gone Afro-centric in terms of your sound and focus. What would you say informed that decision?
There was no real reason, it just felt it was the right thing to do at the moment. I know my music is gaining a lot of traction all across the continent and it will be only right to release an album to that regard so as to leverage on that status.
You were nominated for the BET Awards, you were there live in the US on the red carpet, but you came home without a plaque, did this dampen your spirit in any way?
BET is a big awards ceremony and the Africa category had six Africans on it. We all know that in Nigeria alone we have over 15 artistes doing very well, both male and female. So from the entire continent of Africa, for me to be picked among the top six three times in a row, it definitely means that I am doing something right.
It is true I did not come back home with a plaque but I did not come home empty handed; I came home with a lot of experience. I was there with Beyonce and everyone in the American movies and music scene.
The much-talked-about gown you wore to the awards ceremony is said to be worth a whopping N2.5m. Is that true?
Yes, it is true. In fact, it is not my style to dwell on such issues, I don’t have to confirm anything. You can go online and see for yourself.
The industry is known to be a male-dominated one and although things are steadily changing, there are still just a handful of female acts featuring in the A-list events. Does that put pressure on you in anyway?
The pressure definitely is there because I need to keep up with what my male counterparts are doing. It is a tough struggle because in Africa, the woman is looked upon as the second leg and not the first leg, if you know what I mean.
There is a lot of psychological battle we face as female artistes whether you are A-list or Z-list. But all said and done, I would rather be on God’s list.
Having been around for a while, what would you point to as the reason for your staying power?
Definitely, God is the number one, day in, day out, He has always been there for me and He will continue to be there for me. Then my team, shout out to Efizi Music Group. These guys work tirelessly to make sure the brand is where it is today.
It is not an easy job for them but they got my back all the time. Then the passion for music just has to be there, money cannot buy passion. It is the passion that spurs me on to go into the studio, go out on stage and fight, beyond any other man-made factor.
You were on Peak Talent Hunt show, will you say that was what started all this for you?
Peak Talent Show was the right step in the right direction at that time. It made me take the first professional step in my musical life and I will always be grateful for the opportunityit gave me at the time.
What about your clothing line? You have been talking about it for a while but we have not seen anything yet.
Don’t worry, something big is about to happen. Just be a little patient then watch what is due to come out soon.
When are you going to unveil the part that relates to your love life?
Whenever God says it is time, then it is time
You are fond of saying you are looking for your Johnny, is that still the case?
No, no, no. Not anymore, that era is past. Wherever Johnny is, he has to be the one to look for me now.
You are one of the few artistes with little or no scandal or controversy whatsoever. How have you been able to stay steady under the radar?
I have just being focused and been myself. And then I try not to look for trouble. With those combinations and a bit of luck, you are most likely to be free of any scandal.
When a female artiste has a male manager, there is always that belief that they are dating. Why is that the case?
Are managers not human beings too? If I had a female manager will you be asking me the same question?
When did you decide to go into music professionally?
I have been doing this music thing for like ten years now. Not many people know I was in a girls group called ‘Naughty Spices’ and my stage name then was Ginger but in terms of a solo career, I kicked off my career six years ago, just after winning the Peak Talent Show.
What are the factors you would point at as inspiration for your kind of music?
Everything I do comes from the heart. I always try to make sure that a piece of me reflects in all my songs. Secondly, the producer has to lace a perfect beat that gives the song the direction I want.
If it’s a club joint, I give it the club banger approach and if it’s a ‘silky sheet’ beat I would give the beat the pillow case and all that’s needed to go with it. In terms of inspiration, I am usually influenced with what’s happening in my environment and of course my experiences and those of people close to me.
Who are your role models or the people that inspire you in music or those who help lift your mood at times?
I listen to the powerful three (in Nigeria), Waje, Tiwa (Savage) and Omawumi. But outside the shores of Nigeria, I listen to Maria Carey; her voice is like a projection for me and I always try to match her.
I also love Beyonce’s stage craft but I still take it back to Whitney Houston every other time. I also listen to Etta James and I love listening to old songs. So, yes, my playlist is kind of long.
When you first started you had a tomboyish look, comparing that to your new sexy look, you’ve considerably changed. Was the transformation as a result of you growing up or your team’s decision to get you a wider fan base?
They say if you have it, flaunt it. But on a more serious note, I’m still the tomboy till now. It has a little to do with my team though. I’m a chameleon; if you notice me very well I change my hairstyle regularly and in my videos as well.
If you don’t know me very well you might be confused as to the Yemi Alade singing. So I guess my style is always changing.
How would you describe the music industry in Nigeria based on your personal experience as an artist?
The industry is fast growing and we are close to where we wanted to be. Generally, among ourselves, we need to eliminate the factor of greed and start thinking for all of us as brothers but if we keep thinking about ourselves alone, we are not going to have a system or structure that would work for us.
For example, when I release a song and I put it on iTunes and someone downloads and makes duplicate copy through other means; that’s greed. My album was compiled under four years, that’s four years of work and someone just sleeps and wakes up and sees my link online and starts to share it; that’s both being wicked and greedy.
There seems to be a healthy line up of up and coming female artistes, what would you say to them if you were to advise them?
I believe all the ladies in the industry are really trying, every day we have to look prim and proper and it takes a lot of effort. But I really think you are your biggest challenge. You are the one that can hold yourself backward or push yourself forward, it all depends on you