The name, Derek Osonwa, may not ring a bell but Dekumzy definitely will. They are both the same person and since announcing his arrival on the beat production scene with his heroics on Esther's Resonance, the gospel album which featured the hit single, Chinweike, and helped redefine gospel music, Dekumzy also worked on Nigga Raw's first and second albums, and by the time he produced, Yori Yori and launched the careers of the Bracket duo, he knew it was time for him to leave the familiar surroundings of his Enugu home and seek greener pastures and greater challenges.
He chose Abuja, Charly Boy and Dr. Alban who were seeking to re-launch their careers and compete on the contemporary scene came calling next.
He took on the challenge and single handedly produced, co-wrote and co-sang on almost all the tacks on their new combined album. Charly Boy and Dr. Alban also took him to Sweden for the bulk of the production work and are most of the time on stage with him whenever they are performing.
Dekumzy is on the other side of his 20s and has a wife, Mary Ursula, and a young son, plus a growing career and ambition to help change the face of entertainment. We talked about these and more in their interview…
Prior to Resonance, what else have you done musically?
There was nothing concrete or major out there before it. I was doing some underground works that periodically got airplay, but nothing really serious and I was based in Enugu then.
How did Resonance contribute to your being where you are today?
It gave me a name. It became my platform, but being based in Enugu kind of restricted my growth, because Enugu is not the main hub of entertainment in Nigeria. I was part of those that worked on Nigga Raw's first album, then his second album, then Desperate Chicks album and a number of other works. While on them, I knew I couldn't continue staying in Enugu and a lot of people encouraged me to move out and seek greener pastures. Other Enugu-based producers like J-Martins and Mekoyo had left, so some of the other underground producers in Enugu began to see me as a threat. Then, I did Yori Yori and now decided to leave Enugu. The Charly Boy on the Loose, featuring Dr. Alban, is my first major work outside Enugu.
How did you come to do the work?
I don't really know what brought Charly Boy to me, but it’s Nigga Raw that gave him my number and he called and told me that he wanted to work with me. At first, I was really scared, but when I met him, I found out that he was different from what I had been hearing of him. He told me he wanted me to create a new him and I said okay. We started working and writing the songs. The way he sang on this album is not the way he sings normally. Even Dr. Alban sang in Igbo. We all travelled to Sweden, did everything there and came back.
Would you say that this is your biggest work so far?
Sort of. “Yori Yori” was big and all the other artistes I have worked with are big, but this is on the international standard.
How did you manage?
My dad always told me this: “When you are in your zone, take charge, don't let anyone else take over your zone; don't let another person control you in your zone.” So, when I am doing the production work in the studio, I know that is my house and I take charge; I say what I want. And it worked very well. I was virtually telling them what to do and when they followed what I said, I got more confident and really put my foot down. I was excited to be able to do that, but all was in the line of duty and I respect them a lot.
What of the other people you are working with?
We are all still working together. I and Bracket are working on “Yori Yori” remix with 2Face and Desperate Chicks are working on their new album.
How did you get into music production?
I have always loved music. I never knew I was going to be a music producer, some day. I used to be a very bad boy while I was in secondary school. One day, I got into trouble and while running from that trouble, I ran into the church. Entering the church and seeing the way they were singing and performing made me want to join them and I joined them. I was also a member of the Federal Ex-Christian Students Association. In fact, that was where I learnt everything I know about music today. I played music with them for four years. I learnt how to listen and understand the artist there and that is really working for me.
Where did you learn about the computer production aspect of your job?
I was trained on that by another producer based in Enugu called Obio (Obinna Oko). I worked on Resonance just a few weeks after I got into the studio to learn. He encouraged me to do the work; he believed in me and that also made me believe in myself. But he still trained me for years.
Why did you decide to move to Abuja?
I have a name now and I can walk into offices with minimal difficulties and Abuja is where the offices are. I have plans to influence a lot of changes in the life of the youth and entertainment in Nigeria. I am going to try and influence changes in the way artists and entertainers are treated. I foresee a situation where one day there will be a minister of entertainment, just like there are other ministers.
In years to come, there would be a lot of changes in the entertainment sector of this country. Abuja is where the decisions are made and by being there, I could help influence some of them. The government employs entertainment to get their wants. They use entertainment when seeking our votes and after that, they leave us to suffer.
How do you decide or spot the artist you work with?
I like people who are calm and humble. People who like criticism and do not take it wrongly; people who like sharing things. Some artists are very arrogant and till today, they are nowhere.
When you started production while still in school, didn't if affect your studies?
It did. I almost dropped out of school and my parents threw me out of the house. We fought a lot and they really kicked against it, but after a while, they found out that everything is not about going to school. Schooling alone doesn't make a man, but it is actually getting the education that makes one. If I decide to sit down and study music, that is part of it. I must not have a degree in Engineering or read one course or the other before I can succeed in life. So many people are studying different courses in the university because of their parents. One has to find out what he or she is really good at and go after it. Otherwise you will end up a failure, whether you go to school or not.
Tell us about your wife
My wife has been with me for four years now. She's been singing. She is one of the Desperate Chicks. They featured on Charly Boy and Dr. Alban's song, “Shayo Plenty”. She is a very understanding person and I understand her too. Since both of us are in showbiz, we are most of the time out for one for commitment or the other.