Wednesday, March 31, 2010

‘This is going to be our best album so far’ - TUNDE OBE

Tunde and Wunmi Obe (T.W.O) are about coming out with their fourth album. They are titling it T.W.O Legit, after it was rumoured earlier last year that they were quitting music. 'T.W.O Legit' is also the name of a track in the upcoming album. During the course of his interview, Tunde, who spoke on behalf of T.W.O was able to take us through the course of their career, music and life as a couple...

Why did you stay four years before releasing an album?
Rather than just keep dishing out a bunch of weak songs every other year, it is better to take your time and make sure that every song is strong in its own right and has a message. If you listen to our last album, every song in it has something to offer. It is just that there are some popular ones which you hear more often than others. But the forthcoming album is much better and we make bold to say that this time, it’s the best of them. So far, all the feedbacks we have got point to that and everybody we take their opinion very seriously is of that opinion. This is the strongest album that T.W.O would be bringing out.

What did you put into this album?
We take our time to study the society and identify the trend of things, then we try to infuse that message into the songs. We look at the style of contemporary popular music and try to follow it. We first of all identify these and then we start getting the words and the kind of melody we want together. Sometimes, a great producer like ID Cabasa or Puffy T can be inspired to do a groove with one person in mind and when they give it to you, you can be inspired to do a song that would fit it. After we did Cupid's Ball in February last year, we practically vanished from the radar and concentrated on recording our songs for about four months and at the end of the day we are very satisfied.

How did you pick the producers you worked with?
We worked with people we feel some kind of affinity with; we might like your beat or work, but when there is no spiritual connection with the person, we won't be able to work with that person. Music is a spiritual thing and there must be that connection between the people involved before a great work can come out. No matter how good or talented a person is, if we don't like the person or don't connect with the person, then we can't work with that person. Among the producers we wanted to work with on this album, the only person we missed out on was Cobhams. Our timetable didn't match his own when we were recording. So, we weren't able to work with him. We wanted to do just one song with ID Cabasa, but ended up doing two.

Do you think you are going to stay another four years before releasing another album?
We don't know. Things would depend on the success of the coming album and our fans. We are older artists, our songs last longer than those of the younger ones. "Mo Gbo Mo Ya", which was in our last album, lasted more than two years on the streets and even now you can still find it if you look for it. Look at Sunny Neji's song, "Oruka", it’s still popular out there because of the message it conveys. Songs have to resonate in people's soul and not just in their heads. People tend to get tired of songs that only sound in their heads faster than those that appeal to their spirit. People still play "Adupe", from the last album, because the message is strong and there must always be something in your life that you want to thank God for. A song like "Welu Welu" by Sammie Okposo was on for more than two years and still stirs souls now. "Igwe", "Kon Kon Below" and so many songs have stood the test of time. In this album, we have songs that can last four years, but we are just putting out the very commercial ones first. By the time we release the full album, you would find out that there are actually deeper and more interesting songs than the ones out there now.

Tell us about some of the songs in the album.
We have "Hit The Dancefloor" and "Get The Party Started," "Ole A Fajo" talks about people who wake up in the morning and only search for the easiest part of life, without trying to build anything solid for themselves. "There's God Time Is The Best," which was done with Rymzo; "Two Legit," which talks about people trying to pull you down and you having faith in yourself. There are a number of other songs which altogether make up 14 songs on the album.

Why did you bring down your style to the contemporary mode of things and also work with the younger producers?
If you want to remain relevant, you have no choice than to look at the producers that are cooking the day's beats; there is just no shortcut to that. We worked with Zeeno Foster, who is about the best sound person in Nigeria at the moment and he mastered and mixed everything for us. He also works for P-Square and we have been working with him since 2003. We have learnt a lot of things from working with the younger producers. Sound production is a lot easier these days because of the computer. Earlier on, things used to be much more complicated.

How do you get the message of your songs?
A lot of these things are divine. Some people might be looking at something and not see anything and somebody else would look at it and see so many things. Wunmi and I see many things that happen in the country that we need to talk about or celebrate. In this country, the issue of "Fine Bara " (another song in the album) has been in existence for many years. Seemingly well dressed people end up being beggars. Bara is just like a beggar, so Fine Bara means a fine beggar. They are everywhere in the society, well dressed and begging on very flimsy and spurious excuses. The last time we celebrated "Mo Gbo Mo Ya," - people who attend a party uninvited and this time it is "Fine Bara." By the grace of God, we will continue to come with topical issues that all Nigerians can identify with. Everybody should have a role to play in the industry. Our own role is basically to put a smile on some peoples’ faces and share the love.

From the sound of the album so far, it seems to be a pot pourri of various styles of music. Are there particular styles you are more comfortable with?
I have always loved soft-rock, reggae; soft songs that touch your soul when you listen to it. There are two songs like that in this album. We did a song with Rymzo who is reggae artist. Wunmi tends to be more of strictly R 'n' B. There was a song we did called "Believe In Me." But if you are going to be an artist that would stand the test of time, you cannot impose your style in your songs so that you do not lose your core fans; you have to set out for the general populace.

How do you feel being in the same profession with your wife?
(Laughs) By the grace of God, we do other things. The things that we do in entertainment are the things people see and focus on. We met doing music in 1988 and music is something we both have passion for, so it's been part of our lives for 21 years. It has become a second nature to us and we just flow with it. We try to keep the business on one side, keep the family on one side and keep the other jobs on one side. We have a fine balance and when you have people that respect themselves the way I and my wife do, there are just a few problems here and there and nothing much.

What are your other interests?
My wife likes the beauty industry, so she owns a salon called Hair Afrique. We also run an office called KopyKat, which is both an advertising and entertainment outfit. I am still always on TV. Most people still remember me as a TV person because I have been on TV since the early 90s. People know my relationship with Charly Boy.

At your age and level, how do you still manage to dress the way you do with your wife?
We are in showbiz and we like to dress like that. I like clothes a lot and my wife loves to dress the same way with me. Before, we used to wear exactly the same thing, but as we got older, we began to diversify and she began to wear more feminine things . But what majorly happens is that I just tell her the colour I want to wear and she would find something that would match it. I just make sure we are colour-coordinated.

Who makes the choices?
She knows when I have to wear a particular colour and she just picks her own to match. I have about 50 suits and it is just about telling her the colour I want to wear. Most of the time, I wear black suits. I have about seven black suits which I wear with any colour and she wears her own to match. Moreover, it is very nice to see two people that are united when you come out for an event. It is not nice to see a couple that dress out of sorts.

How do you manage to keep your band together?
The Dejavu band is strictly a business. It is not just about Tunde and Wunmi Obe. Apart from us, we have about four other solid singers that can hold their own anywhere. It is what the organizers want us to play that we play at events. The band is a business and we play what people want us to play. Once we are at a party, you don't even need a DJ. We play every kind of music and genre of music. Everything depends on the client. We give people what they want. We are a party band and once you can afford us, we are there.

How much does it cost to hire your band for an event?
We don't come cheap; we are one of the most expensive bands in the county, but we have paid our dues and if you want a good thing, you have to pay for it. Everything in life comes with standards and everything has a standard. We are expensive and we are not ashamed to say it. When you want us, you have to count six zeros at least, after the number. We can't be everywhere. That's what makes us relevant.

How do you cope with your female fans?
I get all sorts of attention from women. Once, I was at a car park and a lady walked up very close to me, almost into my face and screamed, “He is the one! He is the one!” I thought she was crazy. Then, she asked me, “You are Tunde Obe, right? “I said yes, then she saw my phone. “This is an E-90 right? It's a nice phone. Can I have a look?” I said “yes” and she asked if she could have a look. I let her have it. Then, she punched her number in and dialled, then she got my number in her phone. Five minutes later, she called me and she bugged my life for months. That made me stop holding a phone. It is amazing what happens in the entertainment industry, but one has to be responsible and treat women with a lot of respect.

As a very stylish person who are your favourite designers?
I love Italian designers. Their suits fit perfectly, maybe because their body structure is very similar to ours. All my suits are Italian and they cost quite a fortune. But if you want to get a good suit, you have to have money now. It is not as if I buy suits everyday, but when we work hard, I can pick a couple of suits as a present to myself. We need to look good for our image. A good suit for us is a necessity.

What about your wife?
About ninety percent of what she wears are from Maufechi. She is her sister and her friend and she makes most of the things she wears. She also visit Everywoman, Pretty Woman and Collectibles.

How do you manage with your marriage in the spotlight?
I and my wife are only celebrities in the eyes of the people that see us. We relate as those two people who met 21 years ago, who didn't have anything, but had a lot of dreams and passion. She is my best friend and I am her best friend.

What are the things about her that still attract you to her?
She is a very strong-willed person, intelligent, dynamic and kind. We both have similar stories of rags to riches. We are children of very wealthy people who came together and had nothing, but built from the scratch to where we are today. Wunmi is a very down to earth person and she speaks her mind.

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