.Musa Danja is one of the few multi talented actors and the only one who sings in English in the Hausa film industry. He is referred to as the king of dancing and dressing in the industry and a winner of many national and international awards. In this interview with Maryam Garba Hassan in Abuja, he spoke on his new album, why he spends millions to produce movies, his relationship with the Sokoto state Government and his latest English movies. Excerpts:
What informed your decision to go into music?
I love music right from when I was a child and I used to mime songs a lot but then I decided to start writing my music in English to pass my message across to people. You know music and acting are the right channels through which artists pass messages across.
What inspired the song “copy-copy’ which is making waves on radio and television stations In the country at the moment?
Copy-copy is one of the songs in the album ‘New guy in town’ the message in the album is addressing those people who copy others in whatever they do. In the song I was trying to say one can do even better than who ever he is trying to copy and that you can never be that person but yourself. I am discouraging imitation and encouraging people to strive hard to make it on their own through hard work and that they should aspire to move forward in whatever one is doing.
If you listen to the music, I mimed about four songs sung by other professional artists. The album is on promotion, I am thinking of releasing the four track album in May this year, and the video will come later.
How would you describe your kind of music?
I can say it is a mixture of Hip Hop and Rand B in Hausa and English language.
You are the only Kannywood actor who is identified with a unique way of dressing. Does that say something about Sani Danja?
It says a lot about me. It has a mixture of the way the Hausa people dress. It is just modernized Hausa attire with touch of English, it covers every part of me and I design both my personnel clothes and sometimes the costumes I use on stage, you can say that I have flair for fashion and I love anything that makes me comfortable.
Did any of your musical albums encounter problem during screening at the state censorship Board since it involves women dancers?
My kind of music is not just for the Kano people even though that was where I started from. My hope is that it will someday be heard in all the countries of the world, so I have no business with the state censorship Board.
But don’t you think that that may create problem between you and them some day?
No, as an artist I have the right to market my product anywhere in the world so long my company is a registered one which I have done. So long my product is good and it does not contradict my culture and religion, I have nothing to be afraid of. There is no nudity in my videos.
Do you see the possibility of acting alongside your wife who was an ex actress?
Yes, I would love to do that. In the beginning of our marriage I invited her to act a movie with me but she said she prefer to concentrate on her marriage to become the best wife she can and also concentrate on her business. May be that will come up in future but for now there is no plan for that.
You are one of the few kannywood actors who was said to have benefited from millions of Naira contracts given to you by the Sokoto state government. How true is that?
I have heard about that too, but the truth is that I helped Governor Aliyu Maga takarda Wamakko during his campaign through my songs as jingles for the governor’s campaign but I have never been given nor have I ever ask for any contract from the governor or the state government. The same thing with the former Taraba State governor Reverend Jolly Nyame. I have a good relationship with the governors and I am still an Ambassador in Taraba state.
I want you to know that benefit is different from contract; I rendered them my service and I was paid for my service, though I was given a jeep by the former Taraba state governor and a number of presents. Leaders involve me In their campaigns because I have a lot of fans and I maintain good relationship with my fans. I campaigned for people through my stage performances in and out of Nigeria. Three weeks ago I was in Niger Republic where I campaigned for a presidential candidate and he won the elections.
How much does it take you to be on stage?
Well, that is a personal question. I can’t tell you how much I charge for before I act in a movie because every movie comes with its own challenges and the character one is asks to play. Our foreign counterparts openly say how much they are worth because they earn big money but here we can’t do that for now.
In Kannywood actors consider their relationship with film directors or producers, therefore they sometimes don’t charge what they are supposed to, all the same we get paid after shooting movies.
Recently, I acted about 3 English movies where I was paid N500,000 and N700,000 respectively. Two of the movies are in the market at the moment; they are cocaine boys and Idi Amin. Nollywood Mercy Johnson, Emeka Ikechuku and Isofio were part of the movies.
You spend hugely in producing movies when you can produce with low budget which is the case with some producers in the industry.
Why is it so?
I am doing that to promote my culture in the eyes of the world and at the same time boost the Hausa film industry. I go to locations as far as Dubai, South Africa, Niger, Cameroun to shoot movies which are all good movies that have sold. I am not the only film producer who spend hugely on his movies.
Again, we are doing that to set a standard for others to follow so that we can one day start competing with our foreign counterparts.
Which was the most expensive film you have produced and how much did you spend in producing the movie?
It is called Jan kunne and our company 2Effect spent N2 million on the movie from the costume, locations to the artists’ fees. It was a movie that is worth the trouble we went through while shooting it because it earned us an international award.
Which other awards did you get for your work?
I got pro Hollywood award in UK in 2007, Star of Islam in Ghana in 2007 and the award we got for producing Jan kunne which was an international award in 2001 CIB Global Award which was the first to be given in Africa and the 6th in the world. It was a film on HIV.
What is stardom to you?
Stardom is everything to me even though it comes with it price. I have crossed many boarders because of stardom, it has made me who I am and it is my life.