In this no holds barred interview with the artiste known as Brymo with Nigeriafilms.com, the soulful singer spoke exclusively about his time at Chocolate City, the effect of the court case that put him at loggerheads with his former label, which earlier prevented him from doing music, and what he thinks of his colleagues, who are supporting politicians.
He said he would have been a lawyer and taken after the likes of Festus Keyamo and late Gani Fawehinmi, revealing that he left the Lagos State University (LASU) when his father could no longer pay for his school fees. Excerpt.
Who is Brymo?
My real name is Olawale Oloro'fo also known as Brymo. Olawale is the person behind the Brymo. We pick stage names so that we can differentiate our personal lives from our life on screen. Brymo is a musician, songwriter, singer, philosopher, poet, a complainer and all that comes with a lot of emotions. There is no art without emotions. And contrary to it that men do not have emotions, I stand to differ. Olawale on the other hand is a very private person. Sometimes, both sort of spill into each other. At the end of the day, it is the same person doing two different things.
Tell us about your education
I grew up in in a place called Okokomaiko. I attended a primary school called Ajangu Aka. I grew up in a place called Aka in Abule Aka. But there were lots of strikes in the schools, so my dad took me a private school where I did my last three years. I went to another public secondary school called Ajangbadi High School. I went to Lagos State University, LASU and did two years roughly and I ran. I had to deal with the fact that my dad had to cough out the school fees every time I asked and he could not bear it. He kept on saying I should wait till the following week. I practically saw him struggling to get the money out. After all that, there was still risk of another strike, there was risk of me graduating and not getting a job.
The music was already starting to bloom. Then I had a video on MTV for a song called, 'Shorty'. I talked to myself that if something was already growing over here and I am not even sure where this (education) is going. And I had to make two choices; One was to stay with school and probably forget music all together or leave school and go to the music and become a learner forever. So I decided for the second option; to go for music and I then dedicated my entire life to learning.
Benefit of your time at Chocolate City?
Quite a lot. It was like a step up from where I left off in 2008 with 'Shorty'. Whatever may have happened, it was a step up for me, even though the whole thing did not play out as I expected it to, which brought about the break up.
There were a lot of benefits I got while with Choc City. I was on the song, ‘Oleku' with Ice Prince, I was on a song with M.I titled ‘Action Film', I was on a song with Jesse Jagz, 'Lov U'. It exposed me to a number of people in the industry where I was able to do features with them. So while contributing my quota to the label, I was able to get something out of it.
Why did Brymo leave Chocolate City?
It was simply a business gone wrong. I wanted to stay for as long as possible, even after the contract and do more. I felt good when I came there. But sometimes, walking away could be the best option. It is really difficult for me to talk about it. So much has been said over a two-year period. I just want everything to just go, especially I did all the talking in that period and instead of the other party saying what they needed to say, they kept saying, 'He is emotional, he is emotional..' to the point where it became advisable for me to stop talking too. Go to the case file at the court and get a copy of the initial charges brought against Brymo.
Reaction to the song done by M.I titled, 'My Brother'
It is a lovely song. I do not know who the song is directed at. If I were to make a song directed at a particular person, I would mention their names. If names were not mentioned, how am I supposed to assume he was talking to me? If I had a brother who the song was referring to and I knew the story behind the song, I would identify more with the sentiments in the song.
How do you deal with your female fans?
I don't! You cannot deal with them. I show them love and I think that is the most important part of what I do. When fans openly profess to like what you do, that is the most amazing part. And those moments when we tend to cross the line and get extra personal, I try to watch it. It happens all the time.
What is Brymo doing presently?
Right now, I am promoting my latest album, 'Tabula Rasa'. We have released the video of 'One Pound' (a track off the album) and is available online for download. Another project is the upcoming concert. We are also praying on making all of the money in the industry and not leave anything for anyone (laughing)."
Present relationship between you and Chocolate City
I left because of the breach in contract. They breached the contract so I left. Because I know by law, when one party breaches a contract, the contract is null and void. Amicable settlement was what I settled for. If there is rumour about somebody paying somebody, Chocolate City should pay. No payment yet between us. Everybody has gone their separate ways in peace. Chocolate City actually asked to settle out of court and not me.
Views on entertainers campaigning for politicians?
If I were to back any politician, I would do it because of their credibility. If Governor Fashola of Lagos State were to run for president, I would campaign for him free of charge. I would go to the bus stop and hold placards, saying 'Vote for Fashola’ because I can trust him. I know that when he gets there, he is going to work. I do not know the relationship that exists between my colleagues and the candidates they are rooting for, I cannot judge.
For those who are supporting these political aspirants, as long as they are doing it for the right reasons, it is alright. It is very retarded that the same entertainers campaigning against subsidy removal are supporting the same candidate for a second term. Some people do it for survival to put food in their pocket and food on their table. And I as Olawale, I will vote because I already know who I will vote for.
Aside music, what is Brymo also involve in?
For now, I am not clear about that yet. For now, it is all music. I would have loved politics but politics is a very very... (laughs off). I do not understand the mind of the politicians and that makes it impossible (for me). If there are no set rules on how something works, I do not want to be part of it. We all have to benefit from it. The law has to stand against every one of us equally.
If not music, what would Brymo have done?
I would have been a lawyer. My dad took that out of me because he was fond of saying I do not tell him the truth always when chiding me as a kid. I suspect if I were a lawyer, I would have been another Festus Keyamo, Gani Fawehinmi or something else.
Your take on the present state of entertainment industry?
The industry is constantly growing and artistes are springing up everywhere. My role is to constantly look at where I can fit in, see what I can contribute musically based on where my spirit leads, based on how far I have come. I put it together and bring out good music. I believe that is the same thing other artistes are doing.
Generally, we need a lot of structures. We need the government officials to stop fighting for power and paying attention to industries so that we can have systems that work so we can move to digital distribution. The government has to come in to talk with stakeholders, telecommunications companies to ease off on data prices. We need musicians to up their game as there are competitions in the world. For Nigeria's entertainment industry to compete healthy, we must create our own stuff.