Since she hit the music scene with her popular song, Molejo, Bukola Folayan, aka BOUQUI has become a household name. In this interview with ADA ONYEMA, she speaks about her career, likes and dislikes

You have maintained the same hairstyle for years,

how did you come about it?

Well, I have a personal stylist. Bobby, to be precise. And when I wanted to start my solo career, he said, ‘You are becoming a brand, let’s do something that when people see it they will remember.’ He said every brand had something unique that stood out, and so we should create something around me so that when people saw it they would remember me for that.

Did he also suggest the name Bouqui?

No. My real name is Bukola. As an undergraduate at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, I started a group made up of four girls in school. We used to rap and we were called G-Vibes. When the group broke up and I went solo, I remained the only consistent face. Over time, people started calling me G-Vibes. I wanted to change it to something that was more me, so I thought Bukola was alright. To ‘funkify’ it, as well, I came up with one million and one names, including Bouqui. It is not actually a version of Bukky, which a lot of people think it is. The stage name BOUQUI is an acronym for Born Once more Unto a Quickened and Unparalleled Image.

What are of the challenges that you face as a musician?

My challenges? If you wake up any day and you don’t have challenges, I don’t think you are living. Having a fulfilled day, for me is overcoming a challenge, no matter how little. The fact that you surmount it means that you have mastered it, and you wake up to a fresh day waiting for something else to conquer. You need to assure and reassure yourself that ‘Look, I am on top of my day.’

Why did you choose to rap?

Well, there are gifts and there are talents. Rap is something I do naturally. It is what comes to me naturally, so I decided to use my gift to create a personal belief in God. That is why I am into that kind of music. I am a Christian, and I love God with all my heart, so I decided to give my gift back to him.

Is music paying your bills?

Well, God is paying. I am not going to say that I am in the business of music but in the business of giving my gift to God and making him change lives through me and what I talk about. So, if anything pays me, it’s not music; it is God.

What is the craziest thing you have ever done?

I bought a car and we set out to drive all the way to Port Harcourt. We didn’t know the route well. We had an accident and the car was completely damaged. We almost died, but here we are.

How come a professor’s daughter is wearing this crazy look?

I don’t know. I think it is by default or maybe by design. I have always been like that. I have always been crazy, as you put it. But now, it’s good, because it has boiled down to what I have always wanted to do. I have always wanted to do something different. So, right now, what I am doing is not a surprise to a lot of people in my family, because I have always been like that.

What do you think is special about your popular song, Molejo?

Molejo means I can dance. It is just an expression of my love for God. It means that I am so excited that I can dance on anything, even if it is a small tin. It is just talking about how much I appreciate God, but because it is a fast-paced song and it is rap, a lot of people don’t know that it is a Christian song.

Tell me something about your boyfriend.

My boyfriend? Mmm, you see, there is something called privacy, so I would like to keep that private.

Who is your ideal man?

My ideal man is someone that fears God with all his heart, because that is the bedrock of everything. If you fear God, you won’t lie to your wife, you won’t cheat on your wife, you will not do a lot of things. But you see, a lot of us concentrate on mundane things that are subject to change. Of course, I have had my own share of mistakes, but we need to understand that beauty is innate. It is a function of who you really are. They say the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. When you have wisdom, you know how to get wealth, you know how to please people around you, you know how not to step on toes.

How do you handle your male admirers?

There are notorious ones, but there is grace for everything.

What is your most memorable experience?

My most memorable experience? Well, I have loads of memorable experiences. I just came back from a tour of the UK where I visited a lot of places. I visited Sunderland and Newcastle. These are white-dominated places and then you are singing on stage and white people who don’t speak your language are dancing and shouting. It touched me in a very different way. It is not like Nigeria where you know that these are your guys and they would dance anyway. But these are people who don’t understand what you are saying but they are connecting and dancing. At that moment, I looked at the crowd and said to myself, ‘Men, this has to be God.’ That was one of my most memorable moments.

Who are your role models?

I don’t have a role model. I don’t believe in role models. Rather, I believe in keying into whatever aspect of your life I can benefit from. I can learn from a two-year-old. I can learn from anybody. Role modelling is designing your life after somebody. I don’t like that because it makes you a photocopy. I am an original copy. I cannot be a photocopy. I am a priceless original; I can never be a copy.

If not were not a musician, what else could you have been?

Probably a broadcaster. I have been on radio for seven years. I was on television before. So, I probably would be a broadcaster, which is still in line with what I want to be. Like I said, my voice is my tool.

How do you relax?

I watch movies, play scrabble and swim, even though I haven’t done that in a while. I look for a private place to swim because I don’t want anybody to see me. I like hanging out with people that I like and respect; it doesn’t really matter where we are. It is not about the location, its about what we are doing and the people I am with. So I like to be with people that I love.

What are your obsessions?

I am a moderate person. I am not obsessed with anything I do. But I love perfumes and shoes.

So can I say that you are obsessed with perfumes?

No, I am not. It is just that I love them. Obsession is something that you can’t do without. Sometimes I see perfumes that I don’t like, so I won’t buy it. Even if I like it but don’t want to buy it, I won’t. I have control over my emotions to a certain extent.

What does style mean to you?

Style is a function of who you are inside. It is an outward expression of who you really are inside. A lot of people don’t know that, so they come up with stories. Beauty is innate. When you are beautiful inside, it just has to show outside. I have met people who are beautiful outside but when you get to know them it will be like you don’t ever want to see them again. You may see a guy that is so good looking and he asks you out. After a while you will feel like, ‘Men! No.’ That is because he has not taken his time to beautify the inner man, which is what shows on the outside.

Are there things you think are wrong in the Nigerian music industry?

So many things are going wrong everywhere. Learning to manage them to minimise problems is what matters. So, right now on the Nigerian music scene, we are doing a lot of good things. The videos are very good. You can compare a Nigerian video with one from America and not see the difference. You listen to our songs and really prefer them to others from America. Our artistes are going international. I think we are doing well even though we still have a lot of grounds to cover. But I think we are trying.