UbuntuFM gets in touch with Ogoo following the release of her latest single, ‘Onye Isi Oma (The Lucky One)’ and ‘You Are Mine’. In this exclusive interview with UbuntuFM’s Ikenna Okeh, Ogoo talks about being a music artist in modern Nigeria, her career, #MeToo and the effect of digitization on the local music scene.
Ogochukwu Oye better know as "Ogoo" grew up in a close-knit Nigerian family that hails from Awka in Anambra State. Years after practising law as a certified Barrister, Ogoo decided to pursue her first love and passion “Music”. Her passion for music has always been there since a baby. Her Mum told her that as a three-year-old, she would sing and dance with drummers whenever she hear drum beats. She grew musically by joining a choir at a tender age and even though she was studying, she ensured her music grew as she grew individually. So let's hear from Ogoo!
I love the fact that souls are deeply connected through music.
Ikenna: Music constitutes an integral part of many a people's culture. Most people will say that music as an art form, for them, is a medium for expression. Does it serve the same purpose for you too, or more? If so, what does music mean to you?
Ogoo: Music is certainly an art form and a medium of expression for me. It avails me the opportunity of speaking and sharing my truth with my audience, with the hope that it heals someone. I love the fact that souls are deeply connected through music. It is such a spiritual experience and I am blessed to be doing exactly what I was born to do.
Ikenna: Good music has always come from Africa. In the recent past legendary musical arts and artists have claimed a worldwide audience from Nigeria – from Fela Kuti to Lagbaja. At present, a good number of Nigerian artists still compete on this fast-changing global music scene. What does it mean to be a musical artist at this time in Nigeria?
There is freedom of expression – this is not total yet, but at least we are not where we used to be.
Ogoo: Being an artist from Nigeria at such a time as now is a blessing. We are privileged to have a wider audience. The doors to the global market has been flung wide open. Collaborations, awards that were once dreams are now becoming a reality. Nigerians have become more receptive to the sounds they listen to nowadays. There is freedom of expression – this is not total yet, but at least we are not where we used to be. It's all fair game. Anything is possible now.
Ikenna: 'Onye Isi Oma (The Lucky One)' and 'You Are Mine' have been enjoying playtime on UbuntuFM as we already have published a review of your music. You have quite outstanding vocals and a confident tone – one of the many elements that make the songs remarkable – and both tracks resonate with our listening audience. All the same I can deduce that 'Onye Isi Oma (The Lucky One)' is originally targeted at the Nigerian audience while 'You Are Mine' is targeted at a foreign audience. Could I be mistaken in my observation? And did you involve the same producer for both tracks?
Language is no barrier in music.
Ogoo: Thank you for the compliments. 'Onye Isi Oma' is not necessarily targeted to the Nigerian audience, but it does have Nigerian elements infused in the sound. There is a merger of the cultural feel and language of the Igbo people – which I'm a part of – and the English language. Language is no barrier in music.
The soul and truth of it can be felt by all. Love makes the world go round, and that's the message I pass along in this song. 'You Are Mine' on the other hand is soft rock themed. Still the same applies here; the message and truth which I conveyed to the best of my ability, and I'm very grateful for the response from my audience all over the world. Both tracks were produced by two different and fantastic producers. ‘You Are Mine’ was produced by Atta Lennel Otigba, and ‘Onye Isi Oma’ by Kaystrings.
Language is no barrier in music. The soul and truth of it can be felt by all.
Ikenna: Personally, I try without success to prefer one track over the other. I only come up with the excuse that they both suit different moods. What actually inspired these songs?
Ogoo: Both songs were inspired by life and love. 'You Are Mine' is a tale of two lovers who choose themselves against all odds. 'Onye Isi Oma' is about a woman singing to the man of her dreams, the one she finally chooses and who chooses her too.
Ikenna: How did you come about doing music? Did you set out on this path from the onset?
Ogoo: Music has always been my passion. I started singing at the age of three, led my primary school in assembly songs every morning, joined the church youth choir at 14, led my secondary school in assembly songs every morning, led the choir in my university days, and everything in between. Music found me. I am a lawyer by profession but I always knew the music in me would win, and it did.
I don't know how relevant the #MeToo movement has been for us here in Nigeria but I believe it should.
Ikenna: In the past year the #MeToo movement has gained a lot of traction in the West, in particular in the USA. The original purpose of #MeToo was to empower women through empathy, especially the experiences of young and vulnerable black women. Would you say #MeToo has relevance to the African entertainment and arts industry? In other words: #AfricaToo ? What are your challenges in doing music? How different do you think things should have been done? What needs improvement?
Ogoo: I don't know how relevant the #MeToo movement has been for us here in Nigeria but I believe it should. Being a female in the industry has its ups and downs, so has everything else in life. From the outside the Nigerian music scene looks male dominated. Yes we have strong women doing great things and carving out the path for the next generation of musicians but it hasn't been easy. I feel women should be involved more and more and given the same chances and opportunities the guys are. I'm not asking that anything be handed out to us, I simply want for there to be a level playing field, fair game. I believe the industry needs more structure than it currently has. Once the structure is in place I believe all other things will follow accordingly.
I'm not asking that anything be handed out to us, I simply want for there to be a level playing field, fair game.
Ikenna: In your own opinion, how do you think digitization has affected the music industry of Nigeria? Do you consider that it has been of a positive outcome to every industry player?
Ogoo: Digitization in Nigeria has its advantages and disadvantages. Music has been made so much easier. It has broadened the reach of our music to the global world. Content is king in our world today. Artistes now make money from digital sales of their music and videos, thanks to the digital market. Music is now easily accessible with the click of a button.
Consequently, digitization has its downsides. Music is now downloaded free of charge. Most people prefer to download for free than buy or stream an artist's music. This in turn causes piracy, lack of income for the artist's work which is why I spoke about our lack of structure earlier. We spend money, time, creativity to make our music. It hurts to know our works are being treated unfairly.
Ikenna: In the course of the coming years, where do you hope to be musically? And what changes do you possibly think will occur on the Nigerian music scene?
Ogoo: I hope to be at top of my game in the coming years. I hope to be one of the best female artists in the world proudly representing Nigeria. I hope to hear my music from the lips of almost everyone, sell out at concerts, top billboard charts. I'd love to receive messages from my fans as to how my music healed them or made them love or made them get through the rough times.
I think Nigeria will experience more global recognition in the music industry. I strongly believe we will stand side by side with the world's best. I believe with more efforts the industry will be more structured – piracy will be curbed to the minimum, artists will get paid proper royalties, true talents will emerge and not be subdued because it’s not the conventional sound, producers will understand that they have rights too, publishing rights, songwriters will be recognized, etc. It's positive for some and not for others. The more loyal fans you have the more chances you stand to have with the digital market.
We [artists] spend money, time, creativity to make our music. It hurts to know our works are being treated unfairly.
Ikenna: You are garnering a following of listeners for your music. What should they expect in the very near future? Do you have any ongoing projects?
Ogoo: They should expect the best by the grace of God. I'm currently working on the video for 'Onye Isi Oma’, that should be out pretty soon. Certainly I have more in store as this is only the beginning. I'm working on more projects, music and more. I'm very grateful to have fans who expect more from me and I promise, with the help of God, not to disappoint them.
The challenges I personally face in the industry would be finance and structure. Being an independent artist isn't the easiest task but I'm positive about the future.
Ikenna: Before we call it a wrap, I think you may have a word or two for listeners of your tracks on UbuntuFM.
Ogoo: UbuntuFm has been kind to me and other artistes and I thank all my listeners out there. God bless you for your massive support. I want to encourage someone out there not to give up on their dreams, stay consistent and stay prayed up. God will see you through. Please keep supporting my music and also you can follow me on all social media platforms @ogocity to keep up with my life and music.
Ikenna: It has been a most insightful moment with you. We at UbuntuFM wish the best for your musical pursuits, and hope to constantly hear more from you. Thank you for granting us this opportunity for an interview.
"You Are Mine" and "Onye Isi Oma (The Lucky One)" are available for purchase, download and streaming on iTunes, AppleMusic, Deezer, Spotify, YouTube and all other music streaming services.