So here we are, back at it on a Wednesday. It is so good to be here today. Today I am so excited to have Aremu on here @ Skoped Out. I feel in love with his music from his Soundcloud page. His sound is so unique, melodic, and welcoming I had to have him on. Before we get to that lets check on music news. First up, In just two years, Apple Music has hit 27 million paying subscribers. It took Spotify more than 7 years to reach the same mark. Last December, Apple proudly announced that their music streaming service, Apple Music, surpassed 20 million subscribers. Now, half a year later, the service has 27 million paid subscribers. In other news, As Universal Music Group keeps posting record revenue numbers thanks to streaming, Vivendi apparently has three letters in mind: I-P-O. In late April, investment banks wanted to persuade Vivendi to offer Universal Music Group for an IPO. According to Reuters, bankers told Vivendi that “selling 10 to percent of UMG would provide funds for other acquisitions.” They valued UMG at $22 billion. This isn’t the first time, however, that bankers and executives have tried to convince Vivendi to offer up UMG. So now lets talk with Aremu live & direct from Nigeria. Aremu opens up about life where he lives, creating his niche sound, mainstream media portrayal of Africa, and so much more!
Stoli: Where are we talking from today and how is your day going so far?
A: We’re talking from Ajah, Lagos, Nigeria. My day has been calm… good so far.
Stoli: What is life like growing up in Nigeria?
A: I suppose it depends on interest. Most Nigerians are party people, but I was always a solitary person growing up. My interests were centered around arts and sports, and both were things I did alone. I would go for a swim, or a jog, or write music.
Stoli: At what point in life did you get into music and are your friends/family supportive?
A: My family supports me completely, In fact, my parents knew the only way to punish me was to prevent me from doing art. My mother was a dancer and my grandfather was a great drummer, so art surrounded me. But how I first started music was through theatre. I was in drama class in primary school and then gradually I found myself doing theatre seriously and theatre included all aspects of art, including music. I once joined a theatre group and at first it was like becoming a leader of my own art. But in the group there was dictatorship and I didn’t like that. I never responded the way they wanted me to, I didn’t obey unspoken rules. So they started to think something was wrong with me because I would do the jobs that no one else would do. They started to call me “Mr. Were” which means someone who is doing the opposite of what everyone else is doing. Calling me that was intended to be an insult because it was like being called crazy, but I took it as a compliment. I even wrote a song titled Mr. Were and performed it. No one said anything to me again after that.
Stoli: Can you explain how your sound was created?
A: While growing up, because I am into theater, we often sang folk songs, so that sort of music has always been with me and even fuses into my own music. I was also influenced by the sounds I heard daily. I lived by an Arabic school, and I heard their chants and prayers everyday. I was also inspired by the sounds of local drummers and other forms of music. Music is spiritual for me. It is what we can hear that we’ll sing.
Stoli: Being that you are based in Africa, how do you utilize social media to spread your music through the entire world?
A: I’m not really a social media person to be candid. I’m not very good at it. I often use it to absorb knowledge. As for the promotional aspect, I would post acoustic versions of my music or post something inspirational that I believe the world can feel.
Stoli: Who are two musicians before you that you listen to and have influenced your sound today?
A: Because of the kind of music I do, most of what I listen to don’t influence my sound. More than anything what influences me is the expression and emotion of the singer and not what they’re singing. I love Angelique Kidjo. I think she might be the one that I can relate to because she’s close to the earth, you know? Though her expression is different than mine. But there’s no subjection to anything, no boundary, it’s just pure music. And then there are others I appreciate like Tupac, but none of them have really influenced my sound. Listening to them is just inspirational, like being inside of some kind of temple, you feel the energy of their music.
Stoli: The media often portrays Africa with poverty & violence. How do you see your native continent through your eyes and life?
A: It depends on the perspective. First, usually when they portray Africa as poverty-stricken – that is from a material perspective. It depends on who is looking. What is actually the material that they use in judging the wealth of Africa? Is it a standard that they are setting that is used to judge? Is it the pace in which the world is moving that Africa is not catching up with? Or is it how they have tried to bend how Africa is seen? I believe it is a question of who. My own perception is that Africa is not poor. If Africa is left to respond how it is supposed to, without the influences of others, without the pace, without the standards, one will see Africa in it’s true wealth. But until then, a lot of people will benefit from keeping Africa down.
Stoli: I love your song “Felicia.” Is that a real person and what inspired you to write and create that song?
A: Felicia is just a mirror of the world itself. Everything about it. Even within our homes. It’s simply about classism and all the “isms”. It’s about not knowing but thinking that one knows. It’s a metaphor from the daily things we see between man and woman. When a man approaches a woman, and even a woman subtly approaching a man, she will start analyzing him – is he worth the attention? Is he worth her time? So from this I created a larger picture. Some people see others from their own perspective, so relationships are based on what a person wants, so if one sees that there isn’t anything to gain, they’re gone. But they’re actually hurting themselves. They’re saying who they are without knowing. That’s Felicia.
Stoli: If you could play one city in the USA, what would you choose and why?
A: How many cities do I even know in the US? Lol. But if I could play anywhere, it would probably be New York City. They respond to art well, you know? It’s a place for artistic freedom.
Stoli: When you are not making music what else do you enjoy doing?
A: Theatre and sports. When I’m not singing, I’ll teach dance classes or I’ll write poetry. I love boxing, or I’ll go swimming… just being by the water is enough for me.
Stoli: What is coming up for Aremu and where you @ online?
A: I’m currently working on my first album Music of the Drunk, and compiling songs for another album called Seven Serenades. You can keep up with me by my website Alaremu.com or my Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are all @AremuMusic