Nigeria’s pop duo, P-Square of Peter and Paul Okoye were in Malawi last weekend, where they thrilled their fans with their electrifying performance and moving dance steps
Showtime Celebrity cornered Peter Okoye who provides insight into what could make him break up with his twin brother. He also talks about the making of their latest album, Alingo and their new plans to conquer the southeast African countries with their kind of music.
You are always on the road, how many days do you guys have to yourselves?
We have been trying as much as possible to create time for ourselves. But most times, we don’t get it. We need more time to rest because performing for 2-3 hours on stage is not usually an easy task. Despite the fact that we have been travelling over the world, we took a break in January, and right now, we have resumed business again.
Sometime ago, it was rumoured that your latest album, ‘Alingo’ was banned which was later refuted. How did you receive the news?
We heard about the ban. But when they ban a particular song, they are indeed helping to promote that song. By the way, if they ban a song from being broadcast in Nigerian stations, will they stop MTV, Channel O, Soundcity and other cable networks from playing the same song. It’s not possible.
What is the making of Alingo?
Psquare for the past five years hasn’t done any dance video and our fans expected to see something of that nature from us. So, ‘Alingo’ was just the first song we had even before the ‘Invasion’ album came out. We didn’t take the song seriously until when our fans started loving it. And before we knew what was happening, it caught fire. We have no choice than to give our fans a video.
P-Square You put in a lot of energies to do the video?
Yes, it was my own idea. When the song started picking up, we thought it is important to give our fans something they have never gotten from Psquare in the past five years. The last time we did something similar to this, ‘Roll It’ was over five years ago. It took us a lot of time and energies to produce the album. Our senior brother, Jude who is also our manager shot the video. Interestingly, most people didn’t know that the video was shot in Nigeria. We went to an abandoned warehouse situated some ten minutes away from our Lagos residence to shoot the video.
Sometime last year, you guys did a remix of Beautiful ‘Onyinye’ with Rick Ross, American artiste. You also got signed to Konvict Music, owned by Akon. What’s the situation like presently?
Our relationship with Akon is great. We have known Akon for over six year but we were not looking forward to working with him until last two years when he attended our concert in London. After watching us perform on stage, he developed interest in working with us.
Then, he was planning to open a branch of his Konvict Musik record label in Africa and he was in need of business partners who would help him coordinate the business. That was how we teamed up with him to establish Konvict Musik in Nigeria. We are representing Akon in Africa just as he is representing in America. That’s the whole idea.
It was also rumoured some time ago that you guys bought a private jet. Was it true?
There was nothing like that. I guess because it was included in our list that whenever we are going for a specific show, the organsiers must provide us with a private jet. We had a deal with a private jet company which always hire their private jet to us whenever we are in need of it. It’s like, we have a private jet at our disposal. I remember, I once tweeted that a private jet has been included in our list. That was how people started speculating that Psquare has bought a private jet. But we always travel with the jet all the time.
But do you have a plan to buy a private jet?
To be honest with you, the way things are going, we are planning to buy one. And it’s not because of the cost implication of hiring a private jet, but the fact that we want to meet up with our concerts.
What would you say, you haven’t done since you started your musical career?
I think we have virtually done everything. But I don’t want our fans to start speculating in respect of when would Psquare break into the European or American market. Africa is the next big thing for Psquare even though Americans are in dire need of our kind of stuff. They have exhausted everything they have to offer. For me, I will rather be a king in my own vicinity than to try to be a king in another man’s land. We have achieved everything except that we have not been able to structure the industry. The problem is that when we try to do so, some greedy fellows always frustrate our efforts. For me, I’m not complaining but I just feel it is important, we structure the industry for a better tomorrow.
Was a 35-man committee members inaugurated last week by PMAN Peace Initiative to restore peace in the troubled musicians’ house?
I’m not aware of it. In fact, I’m hearing it for the first time. The committee they claim to have set up, are they musicians or people they feel they want to use to pilot the affairs of the association. When we came into the industry, it wasn’t like what we are seeing today. Psquare was among the musicians that structured the industry the way it is today. we were among the first set of emerging musicians that started making money from selling our CDs. When they are setting up such a committee, what stopped them from involving people like us.
If they don’t carry people like D’banj, 2face and Psquare along, then, there is a problem. It means they are just wasting their time. This is not because we are successful in what we are doing, but it’s because the industry is driven by individual effort. So, if they are taking such a major decision that will affect everybody in the industry and they don’t involve us, then , there is a big problem. I’m not a member of PMAN, and I don’t have any problem with the association.
Are you not interested in the restoration of peace in the industry?
I’m not interested in PMAN because the past leadership of the association failed us. We don’t need to be PMAN members to succeed in our careers. The association hasn’t done anything for us. I don’t need them.
The peace Initiative is trying to unite the musicians again?
When they were setting up the interim administration, they ought to have started from the top and engage those musicians who command respect in the industry. There is no musician in Nigeria today who does not respect 2face. We can be bigger than him in Africa, but I have so much respect for him because he was among the younger generation of Nigerian artistes who broke even several years ago. It’s so disrespectful that an interim administration was set up without our knowledge. If they don’t get the three top Nigerian artistes; Psquare, 2fac and D’banj, then, they are wasting their time. I love our industry they way it is at the moment. We don’t want a situation where , in the name of association, somebody will start dictating the pace for us. The more good we are, the more we want to make more money for ourselves.
Which country would say is your largest market in Africa?
At the moment, it’s East Africa. Anytime Nigerians say, they are through with Psquare, will take our things and relocate to East Africa. But South Africa is a place where we have been working for the past one year building market for our songs. We took a break in January, this year, and between February and March, we have been to Zambia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe. We were in Angola two weeks ago and just last week, we stormed Malawi. So, our potential market at the moment is South Africa. We have built all these markets by ourselves alone.
The impression most people have about you is that Psquare is arrogant?
I think Psquare is very intimidating and we are not arrogant. When you saw me today, did I look arrogant? That’s a wrong impression people have about us. There is Peter and there is Paul. Peter is stubborn, bad and controversial, but they say Paul is quiet, cool headed and all that. But you see, you cannot steal from Peter to pay Paul. If you steal from Peter to pay Paul, you are indeed paying Psquare. I’m a very controversial person and I’m not expecting every news about me to be positive. Psquare is not arrogant, it’s just that the people are scared of approaching them, considering the way we operate. When you see Psquare stepping out, we look very intimidating. But the people who are very close to know that we are not arrogant. Beyonce could visit a shopping mall today, and the whole place will be shut down. That does not make her arrogant. It is her management that has made it to be so.
How is life without your mother?
It has been hectic. We haven’t decided to do a new album at the moment. But while she was alive, she was always with us in the studio. We don’t know how we are going to do it this time around. She was a minister of God before she passed on. She had her own Church which Paul and I built for her. Anytime, we want to release a new album, she would pray on the album for almost a week before we got it released into the market. Her church is still functioning till date and her prayer partners are still there. Once in while, we do communicate with the leadership of the church and it was our desire to see the church continues to function after her death. Wherever she is today, she will be happy that the church is still functioning because it’s a monument for her.
But did you guys really know what happened to your mother?
People must always speculate . It got to a point, I said to myself that those people who are accusing us of being responsible for our mum’s death must be ignorant of how close we were to her. We didn’t want that rumour to distract us. In fact, when people are insinuating such things, the best advice is for you to block your ears and never allowed it to distract you. I’m human, and I don’t except people to say positive things about Psquare all the time. Psquare have made its worst mistake in the past, and nobody noticed it. We are not perfect. And we know why people were accusing us of being responsible for our mother’s death. It’s because we are successful in what we are doing for a living. Even in my Igbo nation, once somebody starts to progress, his kinsmen will start to associate his riches with money ritual. We have overgrown such insinuation.
We have seen great musical groups split in the industry. Will Psquare ever split some day?
Like I said earlier, each time, people look at Peter and Paul, they conclude that we are perfect. But they don’t know that I fight with Paul the same way he fights with me. We quarrel and fight with each other the same way you quarrel and fight with your siblings. The only thing that matters most is that we don’t bring such quarrel into our business.
I always tell my friends, the only person who will tell us to split is our mother but she’s no more. Even if she were to be alive, would she allow us to split? The day we are going to make up our minds to split, it will be an open decision. May be, when I say I want to retire or Paul says he wants to continue with his career in music. That does not mean that I wouldn’t give him my support.
What has kept two of you together?
Of course, we are blood brothers. And we always think of where we are coming from. Our parents never had anything. They were not rich people. If Paul say today that we must split, I will only look at him and laugh. Sometimes, I’d swallow my pride to ensure that peace reigns between two of us.
Have you tried to intervene in those popular split in the industry?
The best way I can intervene is to keep Peter and Paul together. Let them watch and learn from us.
But he’s your twin brother?
It goes beyond brotherhood. The Jacksons split. There was this group that wanted to split some time ago, I intervened and made them see reasons they should remain together no matter the odds. Yes, money might be the cause of the split. But I don’t share money with Paul. That’s the way we have been working because we never had anything from the out set. I’m not saying this because you are interviewing me, between Paul and I, money has never been a problem.
Have you had any cause to date the same woman?
Every woman wants to hang out with Peter. This is because everybody knows that Peter is more outgoing than Paul. But I doubt if woman can cause a problem between Paul and myself. Money would have been the devil that will cause a problem between us than woman. Any woman that wants to cause between us is wasting her time.
How did you grow up with Paul?
Our growing up was fantastic. I’m the person who was always on the stubborn side. Then, I would go out there and cause some stir, and they would put the blame on Paul because we are twins.
We were always wearing the same clothes. I and Paul grew up doing things together. It has remained like that till date. That’s the way our mum trained What Paul does not like today, I will not like either. May be, this is what has been holding together.
Recently it was rumoured that you are into oil and gas business?
Yes, it’s about to kick off. My music is doing very well in the market, and investing in other areas will help to boost my pocket. Which is not a bad idea.
Every successful man wants to continue to invest in other areas of life. Are thinking in that direction?
Psquare is not only involved in music alone. We are into real estate business. We have been doing it for a long time now.
A business man who is keeping his money in the bank, what’s he keeping for, without investing it. We also do banking business, but real estate pays us more.
Psquare as a product of talent hunt show
We know that Psquare is a product of talent show, ‘Grab the Music’. We also know that when you emerged the winner, you went home without anything. But these days, winners of a reality TV show usually go home with mouthwatering prizes. So, looking back, how would you comment on the new trend?
When you win a talent show, what comes first is ego. You have millions of naira around and a brand new car at your disposal, the world is in your palm At this point, you are building yourself to the next level. I don’t say the winner should not have the car, but he should not let the car to distract him. At the time, we won the talent show, we were given a keyboard which is still in our house till today. The keyboard was just N80,000,00. In fact, that keyboard, is part of the instrument in producing most of our albums. The keyboard has made millions of naira for us. My piece of advice is that when you win such a competition, think of where your are coming from and invest your money wisely.