After winning Idol West Africa in 2007, Timi Dakolo who on January 1, 2008, was shot at the lobby of the Presidential Hotel in Port Harcourt where he had gone to the hotel to attend a church service has made his mark in the Nigerian music industry. In this interview, he speaks on his career, family among other sundry issues. Excerpts:
What is happening to you?
I am doing fine. I am doing great. I am working on my second album right now. I am supposed to record a new song with Cobhams this week. I am trying to make it collaboration. I’m already in the process of sorting that out now. I am also building my own studio just for the purpose of recording at my convenience.
Over the years, you have been known for a particular genre of music, why is that so?
It is not that I am particular about one genre but I do Soul, RnB, sometimes, a little bit of Reggae and Rock. I basically sing what I feel.
It is observed that you perform more on events that has Niger Delta appeal, why do you have preference for Niger Delta concerts?
I don’t think so. I go for all kinds of concert. I am a Niger-Deltan and Nigerian too. If I’m invited for a cause I solely believe in, I will be there. I believe in oneness, unity, equality, peace. I believe in love, in the real sense of the word. I also believe in good relationship, hard work.
How has the journey been with you so far?
I won’t complain. I would say it has ups and it has downs. It has times of standstills, it has times of slow paces, fast paces but I am learning every day.
And you hope to achieve what at the end of the day?
I want to become a very great musician and to leave a legacy. I want my music to still be here long after I’m gone.
How do you cope with stardom?
I’m just me. Certain times, you can’t do the simpler things. I like the good things of life. I like to go where normal people go. I am the kind of guy that can wind down the window of my car and buy gala if I’m hungry. I don’t think there is anything bad in it. If I like a shirt, no matter how cheap it is, if I like it and it is going to fit me, I care less.
How do you rate the music industry presently?
I think we are not where we ought to be but we are far from where we used to be. There is a lot of money in it now unlike how it was before. We can conquer the world. We have so much talent in this country.
Any collaboration with Omawunmi soon?
Not yet. We should be looking at it now. All things are possible
Tell us about your new album?
It’s just me so far. I am doing some old-school songs. I am doing my normal styles. I am going to feature some rappers in my song. I have not decided how the whole package will be yet but I know it is going to be great. I hope to realize it sometime next year. I am the guy that takes my time to get there. I would rather slow down to get there than don’t take my time and miss it.
Do you have any plan to feature any international artistes in any of your songs?
Yes, by the grace of God, I am working towards it. I would love to do a collabo with Tina Turner. I also love Seal, Jay Z.
What were those things you did before that you can no longer do again?
I think I have been learning. I have been reading a lot. I may not be reading as I used to but I am still reading to gather knowledge. You can never know it all. I am learning to play the piano as well as the theory of music. I will not say I am there yet but I think information is everything. What you know and another man doesn’t know is an advantage over the person.
How was growing up like?
It was sweet but it had its ups and downs too. I particularly remember my time with my grandmother then. How after school, sometimes, I had to help her sell stuffs and all that. I lived with her because my parents were in Ghana, so they brought me to her. When there were no school fees I did not complain until the money came. There were ups and downs but I think that was what forged me into who I am today. My grandmother used to have a lot of sayings which didn’t make sense to me as a child or teenager then with wild dreams. She believed in hard work. She never believed in the easy way out of things. She taught me to fight for whatever I want.
What do you miss about your childhood?
I miss the places we used to sit and sing. My cousins would come around and my grandmother would sing Ghanaian songs that we initially didn’t understand. After a while, we picked up the songs we didn’t understand. I miss all those story times. Just because we were with her, she would still tell us stories we have heard before and it would be interesting.
What are your vices?
I don’t drink, I don’t smoke but I play video games a lot. I play PlayStation a lot.
Any regret about life so far?
I honestly don’t have any regret. I take everything as a lesson. The only thing I regret is my grandmother not being here to reap what she has sown in my life. It is painful.
How do you cope with women?
I stay in my house. You can see I’m married. Though it doesn’t matter to some but they are on their own. I am your friend but they can’t get past that. Trust me. There is so much at stake to compromise for so little. We chat, talk but when it becomes uncomfortable, I will tell you my mind. That is what I learnt from my grandmother. Say your mind. Say the truth. It can’t happen. It is simple.
What kind of books do you read?
I read inspirational books. I also read novels but not stupid ones. I don’t read Mills and Booms. I read books of John Grisham, Sydney Sheldon, Mario Puzzo, all those kinds of books. I also read a lot of magazines and newspapers. I follow Nigerian politics too.
You want to become a politician?
If God wills, I will. I will not call myself a politician, I’d rather say I want to be a leader someday. I want to work with the youths, give them that sense of belonging. If we all see this country as our own, it will work. Why it is like this has to do with the orientation problem. Someone has said it is not what we can get out of this country we should be thinking of but rather what we can give to it. This country has given me opportunity. There is a difference between a politician and a leader. People follow leaders. People follow you naturally because you have that charisma to carry them along. You have to feel their plights.
Who is your mentor?
I have a truck load. They comprise of people I watch and people I listen to. You can be a mentor to me today by just one word you say. I would think over it and see how it would affect me and my immediate environment. It is not like I have a particular person I am following his lifestyle. That is how it is for me in music. I can have a song for a month. I will play it in my car, with my phone, when I’m sitting down, just to buy into what the person was thinking. And that is how I am.
Is that how you get inspired to write your songs?
No. Songs can crop up anyhow. I can just be here. If you steal my phone, you probably will be a rich man if you know how to write songs. You can be talking to me and I would excuse you for some seconds and write one or two lines. Just like you are a writer and suddenly have an idea of what to write when you are working on the street. As you are walking on the streets, you just get an idea for an article, it is not like you are planning to have an idea but it just props up. You don’t have a part to play, all you have to do is embrace it. Build on it, think about it. That is the way it is.
How did you meet your wife?
I met her in church. One day I was singing, I just saw one awesome lady smiling in church, House on the Rocks. She wasn’t smiling at me. I had to time her after church to meet her.
What happened afterwards?
I met her and said, my name is Timi Dakolo, she said, yes, I know you. I asked for her number and she gave it to me. When I tried calling her it didn’t go, I thought she just played a trick on me not knowing that her phone was stolen. Every Sunday, I will be checking to see her then one Sunday, I saw her and told her she tricked me. That was when she explained that her phone was stolen. We eventually became friends.
I begged her to be my wife for a long time but she refused and insisted we should just be friends. At a point, I got angry because it was overstretching.
At what point did it dawn on you that she is your wife?
Overtime, we grew into each other and longed to see each other every day. Sometime, she will call me to pick her from work and sometime, I will go by myself. Sometime she will come to my house to visit me. When I keep my things anyhow, she will come and arrange it. After a while, whenever she says she is coming and my things are scattered, I will arrange it myself. I used to call her madam hygiene.
What attracted you to her?
Her smile, simplicity and her drive to build. She knows the perfect things to say at the right time and she calms me down. If I am doing something that she doesn’t like, just one look from her will send the message.
What is it that you would want her to change?
Nothing. She is just ok for me. I don’t have anything I want her to change right now.
What have you learnt from marriage so far?
It comes with a lot of responsibility. It makes you think for plenty people. You cannot just do the common things that you used to do for yourself alone. You are thinking of school fess, you are thinking of so many things. You are no longer the small boy, thinking of buying jeans, shirt, show yourself and all that. You can’t do that.
It comes with a lot of responsibility but the sweet part is, I think God blesses you after your marriage. It shows you another level of grace and favour. And you will be taken seriously in the society. If you get to a particular age and you are supposed to marry and you are not married, people will begin to have a different perception of you. And Perception is everything.