21 years old Benue State born music star,
Utaji James Emmanuel music career is fast on the rise since the release of his debut single “Iyanu Masele” which was released early this year after pitching his tent with Jay Smart Production. He is the first son of a humble family of five children and hailed from Benue State. He is an undergraduate of sociology at the Olabisi Onabanjo University. In this exclusive interview, FJB speaks about his versatility, passion, his take on the Nigerian music industry and preparations to take his game to the next level. Excerpts…
When and how did you start music?
For me music is a passion and it runs in the blood, my mother also loves music and plays music whenever she’s around, To cap it she made me love music. It started when I was in the secondary school, where I would sing for my classmates to cheer me back In 2010 at Juli Comprehensive College, Agege, Lagos State. I actually gained my first set of audience in school. I could remember my first ever performance that took place at the school muliti purpose all. When I got on stage every student including my teachers started screaming and clapping to my performance. From that point I had the believe I could do more and at the same time make music my profession.
What influence your lyrics or what inspires you to write?
I’m greatly influenced by happenings around me because I tried to be as realistic as possible with my songs.
What difference are you out to make in the music industry?
I am original and true to myself, my voice texture, the way I sing brings out the uniqueness in me. I am also a versatile with my kind of songs; I can even sing reggae and the likes. And I listen to different songs from great personalities like legendary Fela Anikulapo and so many others. With the blend of all of these great musicians it helps me avoid being stereotypical with my songs. I’m all about good music
How are you coping combing music and education?
Combining education and music is not so easy because music is quite jealous; you have to create quality time to write and record meaningful songs, perform at events and do a lot of other things that being an artiste entails. But to the glory of God I have been able to balance the two without conflicting each other. What I do majorly is to study when I am supposed to be and also to do music during the time allotted to it. So it gives little or no time to play around.
Are your songs also the regular “commercial”
music we are presently experiencing from many young Nigerian acts?
My songs are surely not the regular “noise making” as I sometimes see it. Songs are most times meant to address societal issues or used a medium to pass out messages. In as much that I want to do the regular party or feel-good dongs, I still want to pass out message to people out there, just like my last hit single “Iyanu Masele” That addresses old and young people about how important having patience is and how God can intervene in our problems. Commercial songs to me are songs that allow an artiste to cross over his original genre and not just noise making or ass shaking songs. Laugh!
What has stardom done to you?
Nothing much. I’m still same old me. Though the spotlight is gradually robbing me off my freedom, because I can no longer walk on my street without people greeting me and pointing fingers. Boys don dey obtain me sef. Lol. I’m not complaining ooo, because it is a good feeling that after all the hustle one is starting to get noticed.
Now that you are fast becoming popular, how have you been coping with the female fans?
I tried to be nice to everyone because as you know, it’s the female folks that constitute most of male artiste’s fan base, so you can’t ignore them; I only know where to draw the lines.
What’s the most memorable thing a female fan once did to you?
It happened on my graduation day in my secondary school after performing and being given an honorary award as the best student in creativity. I was leaving the hall while a lady jumped on me and kissed me on the lips. (Laugh) You guys don’t need to know who she’s. Oya presenter to the next question before una lead me to confession for here.
Who are the artistes or producers you are looking forward to work with?
A whole lot of artistes and producers because you have to make different tunes that appeals to a wide audience to last in this industry. And I’m hoping to work with great personalities like 2face, kiss Daniel, 9ice, Vanessa Mdee, Olamide, Tiwa Savage and many more.
So how far are you planning to take your career?
To the farthest length I can take it, God’s willing. I don’t want to be a one hit wonder and I’m currently under the developmental stage of my career. I’m not in a rush to “blow”, so it’s one step at a time… For the fact that i’m a single artiste without any record label and management makes things tiring atimes but God got me. I want to do music that people can relate to in the next 20 years and feel it’s brand new.
What’s your take on many new music that lacks messages that now filled the airwaves?
Well, I believed many artistes are all about “blowing up” now now and they don’t care whether their songs have messages or not. Even if you are singing a party or club song, there are ways you put your lyrics together and people can picture what you are saying and relate with it. The bottom line is that, many artistes are lazy and they limit themselves to Nigerian songs, and this is why you see most of the songs sounding alike. What works for A may not work for B. Artistes need to explore and research every time; and thank God for the internet. There’s nothing you want to know about the music artistry or business that you can dig up online. Information is key in this business. Most artistes don’t even understand why they are doing music or what they want but they only just want their faces on TV and “blow” which is rather unfortunate.
Many young artistes have made it and lost.
What are your plans to avoid you going the same route?
You are quite right on that, but I believed many young acts are now wise and know there is nothing like investing in the future. The more reasons you need to work with a record label or management company that knows their onions and that give you lead, advice and direction. I planned to start investing certain percentage of my earnings as soon as the pay starts rolling in. And like I said earlier, the more reason why artistes need to write songs with meaning and depth. You can do a song now and you get paid some 5 years or more after. A company can pick it up for a commercial, or they use it to score a movie and things like that. The opportunity is endless.
What’s the passion that drives you?
First of all it’s God and the fact that what I have is a talent given to me by God and it is meant to be an instrument to touch lives. So I don’t see myself doing anything else besides music and I am ready to go all the way, giving all that it requires to touch lives with my music. I am also passionately driven by reaching people and affecting them positively. Also with the philosophy that life is not a bed of roses and tears of thorns; it’s simply a mixture of the good, bad and ugly. You can’t eat your cake and have it.
What are you currently working on?
Currently I’m working on my first show here in school. Will be taking place soon. Titled #FJBTHEPASSION then after that I’ll be working on a couple of singles that will shake the town positively.
Your advice for budding artistes.
They need to discover their real talent and be themselves and not wanting to be like someone else. Work hard, pray and don’t joke with research. Knowledge is power and one needs to be equipped with the necessary information. Above all, humility is key, it sure open doors