He rarely talks, he smiles. But Darey still accused him of causing trouble in his song, With This Woman. And what was the trouble? Producing some of the best beats for both top and upcoming musicians in the country. Name them: Darey, Naeto C, Sasha and so on. Most of the songs he produced have won various awards but he hardly gets nominated. Why? He doesn’t talk much.
This is the story of Temitayo Ibitoye alias Tee-Y Mix, as young Ondo Indigene and one of the best moment. He also has business interests and is currently a judge on hit musical talent hunt show: MTN Project Fame West Africa and is getting ready for the 2010 edition which kicks off immediately after the World Cup in July. I had a chat with him and even though we stayed away from the issue of awards, we still had a lot to talk….
You are primarily known as a producer but in the current scheme of thing, most of our producers sing or make extended appearances in some of the songs the produce but we have never seen you sing…
I sing. However I am not looking at recording an album anytime soon. I do some bit parts in most of the songs I produce but I don’t let them credit me with any of the singing because I don’t want anybody to recognize me as a singer. I love being a producer and I want to continue being recognized as one.
Apart from production, what else do you do?
I do business. I am into artistic designs, sound installation and presently veering into artiste management. My company ET Quake Multi-media has done some installations for House on the Rock in Abuja. I also sell musical equipment but not the regular ones. What we do is to come to your venue, design the system, supply and install them for you. But music is number one.
It seems most of your business interests are in Lagos, why then do you prefer staying in Abuja?
It is not like I prefer staying in Abuja. I have been in Abuja for a very long time, I am an Abuja based person. I believe that the kind of business I do is service oriented and you can function anywhere. If you look at it critically, Lagos is a bit overpopulated. I have my contacts in Lagos and I can come to Lagos at anytime. Anywhere the business is, I would be there. It really doesn’t matter where one is.
When did you start music production?
I started producing playfully. It was something I enjoyed doing. I started out under the guidance of Daniel Jones who is now in the U.S producing as well and I have been producing beats for ten years now.
Before then, I already knew how to play drums and keyboards. Thought I started playfully, I believe God has a plan for everybody and I believe strongly that it was what God has destined for me because being a music producer was never what I really wanted to do but I am happy to be here right now of this level.
You have an outfit called, Cerious Music with Naeto C, what is it all about?
Cerious Music is supposed to be a record company/production outfit between me and Naeto C. Naeto sources for the clients, we put our heads together and I do production. Naeto is a very brilliant and intelligent guy, he has a lot of ideas in his head and both of us have a very good working relationship. I have worked with him, I know how to interpret his ideas. I know how to bring them to reality, that is why we are together. But right now Naeto is in school in the U.K and I am here in Nigeria doing business. There’s nothing officially out about Cerious Music but that’s the original idea.
How do you know the kind of beat to give to an artiste?
There are two ways. It is either the artiste has an idea of what he or she wants and the producer would just build on that or if he or she doesn’t have, I ask a lot of question like: what kind of music you listen to, what kind of songs you like, what direction you are looking – questions that would tell me or give me an idea of who the artiste is.
Because I believe strongly that if you are doing music that will last, it is always best to represent you as an artiste, music that is not too far from your kind of person, music that you can defend over a period of time.
Who is a good producer?
I think a good producer must be attentive, vast, versatile, up-to-date with what is happening in the music world and sensitive to the artiste. A lot of times these artistes react in different ways. Most times communication is a problem because they try to communicate to you certain things but might not be saying them in the clear terms but you still have to be patient enough to find out hat they want. They want. A good producer must be detailed – he must be able to pay attention to every aspect of the production – the vocals, mix and every other thing affecting the production. A good producer must be creative because production is all about creativity.
Have there been occasions when you found out that you cannot really work with a particular artiste?
Many times. But usually what makes me not work with someone is either the person is not ready to be in the studio to record, who doesn’t know the basic. Music is serious business, it is something you have to give your all to, you have to learn the trade. I turn down artistes when I feel they are not ready and I tell them why and most times I even give them alternatives. I give them things they can do to either improve their vocal or singing quality.
Are there particular genres or branches of music that you are more comfortable with producing?
To be honest with you right now, I don’t even know. I have tried all sorts of genres and I think I enjoyed it every time I try something different. I enjoy laying my hands on different genres, so I can’t really tell which is my favourite or my strongest point. Even though in Nigeria, most of the hit songs I have produced are rap songs but I am not just a rap producer. I produce RnB and even traditional music. I just love music. So, what I do is that any genre I am trying to work on, I do some research on it. Listen to previously recorded materials in that same genre. I just express myself and I don’t really have any favourite.
Do you think computerization and digitalization have really helped music production or has taken a toll on the discovery of musical talents as regards to instrumentalists?
We are living in a technology driven world. I think it has made production easier. People can now sit down with their laptops and good musical software and produce fantastic beats. But creativity is not cheap. Not matter how easy technology has made music, the manufacturers can only make the machines but the machines will always need brain to function. Technology has made our job easier and given us room to express ourselves some more. Nothing is impossible in production at the moment but technology cannot take the place of creativity.
Don’t you think it has affected the level of the originality in the artiste? Artistes sound very nice on their CDs because their voices have been decorated, but when they climb the stage you wonder if they are really the ones that recorded those songs?
There’s a difference between a recording and a performing artiste, but the truth of the matter is that in Nigeria we have not been able to develop the aspects of our performances, stage performances is something you learn. You have to know to act on stage and carry your audience along with you. Right now, I am one of the judges on MTN Project Fame West Africa and one of the things I am looking out for along with my co-judges is how a contestant connects with his audience – both the studio audience and people who are viewing at home.
Because as a performer, besides singing well, you have to know how to captivate your audience and relate with them well. I don’t think technology has affected performances in Nigeria at all. I just think that we have not been able to improve on performances. We have more recording artistes than performing artistes in Nigeria.
With the level of piracy in the country at the moment, do you think any artiste can survive on his recorded songs alone without performances?
That is why you see that most of the artistes who perform well are the ones standing out when people hear a song on radio, they may like it, but when they see you perform, it is either they like you more or they write you off.
With the knowledge of music, how would you grade the Nigerian music industry?
Nigerian music is improving. We have potentials and we are very strong and focused people. We are surviving against all odds. We have some very creative people and with the selected few who are doing their music rightly, we deserve to be celebrated. Artistes like Darey, 2Face, Banky W, D’banj, Asa, Kefee and so many more all stand out.
What did you study in the university?
I studied Computer Science at the University of Abuja and I am currently studying Business Administration at the University of South Africa. I did a course on Sound and Audio Recordings at some point.
How did you get the name Tee-Y Mix?
Firstly, the short form of Temitayo is Tayo which could be further shortened to TY. The mix was added to it by Daniel Jones, the guy who taught me music.
How satisfied are you with production?
True satisfaction comes from God. We as humans we always want more but if you have a grateful heart, you will complain less. There is room for improvement but I know that God who has brought me this far will take me to the next level.