Soul R&B singer, Darey Art Alade, is out with a new concert series, Darey Presents, putting to rest rumours that he has dropped off the Nigerian entertainment radar. The son of the late Highlife legend, Modupe Art Alade, gives an insight into his early life as a singer, among other issues, in this interview.
What have you been up to?
The show Darey Presents Love Like a Movie is what is happening with me right now. I have got new music that has been prepared already and this has taken the front burner. I might release one or two songs in the show; I don’t know yet. I have shot videos for not just myself but for my artistes, Mo’Eazy and Zaina. After the concert, we will continue our momentum, release new music, new videos and then move on to the next thing. We have big projects that are coming up as well but we don’t want to give you too much information.
Most of the time, movies are known to be fictional. Why did you use it as an analogy for your show?
The same issue why the US is having issues with gun violence and there is high percentage of death and they try to blame Hollywood. We forget that movies are a mirror of the society. Have a look at our Nollywood. Everything is fetish. Movies are based on stories we hear around. I think at the end of the day, love is like a movie. It is so dramatic, it is full of ups and downs.
We have seen shows come and go. What measures have you put in place to ensure the sustainability of this one?
The game plan is to change the face of concerts, to change the face of production. With everything that I do with Soul Music, with our videos and music, we take our time. We make sure it comes out classy and different. If anybody believes in us and trusts what we have done in the past, then it is a no brainer. Once we say we are going to do something, we do it and you are more than welcome.
Both artistes on your label are returnees. Is it that you have a soft spot for returning artistes?
They are both Nigerians. Anybody who knows me knows that I support a lot of homegrown artistes. I don't hesitate to give anybody my support. Take Phil as an example. We did a song together some years ago. We flew to South Africa to shoot a video for it. That answers the question. Today, Clarence Peters is one of the top music video directors. His first music video in Nigeria was my music video. Talking about giving local talents breaks, we have done that and the fact that they are returnees doesn’t take away the fact that they are Nigerians.
So far, how have they lived up to their billing?
The advantage they have is the exposure. That always makes a difference as far as entertainment is concerned. I like to work with professionals because at the end of the day, they bring their experience to bear. By the time we combine that with my experience here, having done a lot at home, the combination is awesome. In terms of local support, we are about to go live with our studios in Abuja where sessions are open. Anybody, especially people in or around Abuja, can always come with their projects to record.
Why did you opt for Abuja, considering the fact that Lagos is perceived as the entertainment hub of Nigeria?
Hollywood is perceived as the entertainment capital of the United States, but people make music all over the States. I think we need to also stop the stereotype or the stigmatisation. Abuja is 45 minutes away by flight, so what are we talking about? Nigeria is the size of Texas. Distance does not equal quality.
You don't need to be in Lagos to make good music. You don't need to be in Lagos to shoot a great music video. The bottom line for me is that I have reached a level in my career that I can make music from anywhere in the world. I have the machinery, I have publicists, producers and people at my disposal everywhere in the world. I can be in Lagos when I need to be. That is how I keep my uniqueness. I am not in Lagos to compete. Lagos is congested. A million artistes come out everyday even though I always feel like a new artiste. I am warning new artistes to be very wary of someone like me because I am still hungry.
Your style of music is not seemingly popular. How well would you say it has paid you?
My style of music is Soul R&B and it has paid me very well. People say I am in a class by myself. Sometimes it gets lonely because I am not trying to compete with anybody. I am not saying I am better than anybody. I just have my own thing I am doing. I have created my niche and I have my market. My market may be one percent but check it out: one percent of 150 million is much. So if I have them every year or every six months, I am content. I am not trying to sell a hundred million records. I don't want everybody to sing to my music.
Did growing up as the son of Art Alade have an influence in your career choice?
I have always been surrounded by music, not just from my dad or my mum but from my entire family. My great-grandmother, my late uncle, Captain Wole Bucknor, was the director of music at the Nigerian Navy. My other uncle, Richard Bucknor still is the Choir Master at the Cathedral Church of Christ where I used to be a chorister. My great grandmother was one of the first pianists in West Africa and was a teacher of piano and music, so it has just been there.
There were others I never met. Coming from that, it doesn't mean that I knew how to do it. I had to learn a lot of things growing up. From singing with bands, travelling around, joining choir, I had to learn how to sing.
How many instruments do you play?
My first instrument was the drum. I play the piano, the percussion and the conga. I also sing because the voice is an instrument.
Is there a particular reason why you don't remix much of your father's songs?
First of all, my father was more of a live performer. He never recorded much. He was famous for being a spontaneous live performer on TV so a couple of recordings he had, I have covered one already many years ago when I was starting out. As far as his music is concerned, there is not too much I can do with it. But again I am also a live performer. From shows that I have got from bank AGMs, weddings and things like that, I do a lot of old highlife music on that platform. Not everything has to be recorded.
At what point does your life as an R&B artiste meet that as a Highlife performer?
That is a futuristic question and I like your line of thinking. To answer that, you just have to look out for my new project. It actually encompasses what you are talking about.
A lot of men don't like working with their wives but you do that. What is the secret?
We have a great chemistry. We work together. I make all the money and she spends it. I am not complaining, she is not complaining either. Sometimes I don't even know how much I make. I don't really care about money. It is people who worship money that care about it.
What then are your cares?
I care about making people happy. I care about changing people's lives.
If not for the money, why are you in the arts?
There is no limit to creativity. The day you stop being creative is the day you die. As long as I am alive, there will always be ideas and Love Like a Movie is one of those projects.
What inspires your dress sense?
I dress to be comfortable. I wear what suits my body type, keeps it edgy, dress appropriately. You can't wear bathroom slippers to a meeting. It is relative, it depends on what you believe in style, but never let your style be as a result of somebody else's. You can borrow and be inspired, but don't take everything hook line and sinker.