Aituaje Iruobe (born September 1), who is mostly known as WAJE which is the acronym for “words aren’t just enough” is an incredible songstress. She came into prominence after she featured on P-square’s hit Do Me, and ever since then she’s being able to carve a niche for herself in the music industry.
She was recently interviewed by Vanguard Allure. Check out excerpt from the interview.
How did it all start? When did you discover you could sing?
I basically discovered that as a kid. I still remember what it felt like using my father’s screw driver as a microphone and my mother’s head tie as my long hair and the wall in our living room as my microphone stand. Every time I did that, my father would look at me helplessly because there were different holes I put there with my artificial microphone. And then, my mum was Principal of the school Children Evangelical Ministry and we used to go for camp meetings. There, I would always come up and sing. While I was in secondary school, I was on scholarship not because of my academic strength but because I could sing. Everybody that knows me has known music as a part of me.
When did you get into it professionally?
Mine is a bit tricky because I got signed on to a label at a very young age but we never really came out with an album. I was at the university at the time. If you say professionally, as in me taking the bull by the horn and going out there for real, I will say 2007; when I was featured in one of P-Square’s tracks titled ‘Do me, I do you’. That track opened my eyes to what I could actually do, because mine was the tiny voice at the background but I wasn’t in the video.
Why were you not in the video?
Please don’t ask me why. Just put full stop there for the interview because it is a long story. It was basically management issues and my not being able to… I don’t know. But, I still thank God for the experience. I have a different story from other artistes. It is all these that really make up the brand Waje.
So, when you finally decided to do your own thing, how did it go, what were the challenges you faced?
When I started doing my own thing, I came out with a single ‘Somewhere’. It is like a soul song that has jazz flavour in it. MTV Base called me and said they wanted me to be part of a talent hunt; not exactly a talent hunt but a reality TV show. It was to give every up and coming artiste a platform to perform.
I got into the competition; we were about 27 artistes Durella, MI, Kel, I think, I can’t remember. But we were really many. Then every other artiste had some kind of leverage as a single that was doing very well. I didn’t even. Glory be to God, I made it to the top three and I was the only female standing.
Do you have a video for ‘Kolo’?
Yes, I do have a video for ‘Kolo’
What inspired the song?
It was just about me telling people that I want to let my hair down. It doesn’t matter if I had a bad day or not; let’s enjoy ourselves and basically cool off. It is not like I had an inspiration, to be very honest. The truth is that I wasn’t inspired to write any song. It wasn’t because people were working hard, let me do a song that will make them dance. No! It was a task. It was a home work for a talent hunt that I was part of and Cobhams said do this and I just had to deliver.
So, what kind of artiste would you love to be known as?
The kind of artiste I will really love to be known as is somebody that is transparent; to help people connect with my music, it is like the gospel. That is the reason why we have so much faith in God because when you open the Bible, it tells you about yourself where you want to go to and then eventually you hold on to that
The Bible interprets the whole thing to you and so you have a clearer view of what is happening around you and how to face it. That is how I see music. I think that at some point, when it comes to the entertainment industry and what I represent, it is more like a gospel. I am not a gospel artiste; what I mean is that I can talk about heart break and a girl who is going through that listens to my song and she feels like someone truly understands her pains. That is what music is all about. People should be able to listen to their music and feel you understand their pain, feel you understand their joy and connect with you and at the end of the day you are really preaching the gospel.
Who are your icons in the industry?
People that I look up to are strong women who are my driving force, because they have been able to positively look at our country and our continent. People like Miriam Makeba, Onyeka Onwenu and Angeli Kidjo. For these women, it was not just about a microphone for them. It was about carrying a whole nation to the outside world positively. I respect and I look up to a lot of male artistes but at the same time Onyeka Onwenu, Evi Edna, Christy Igbokwe, they have really done it for me.
At the moment, in our generation, people like Asa, Nneka, are women that have really been holding it down. I love them because they are women. Truth is, we women don’t actually get enough but when you see one who is making sure and taking the bull by the horn and going out there, no matter the circumstances, they will no doubt inspire you. That is where I see myself in a couple of years. I hope I will get to the point where the whole world is looking at Waje because she is bringing to the table something they want to listen to and something they can connect with.
What does Waje stand for?
It is my name Aituaje but I cut it short. I removed the ‘u’ and put a ‘w’. It means ‘words aren’t just not enough’. I had a friend Ayo Rotimi. He was Spice’s manager and at a time, he was like a big brother managing my outfit. One day, he called me on the phone and asked: “How do you see yourself?” I told him, well, this is how I see myself, because sometimes, especially we artistes, we think that we figured ourselves out. But the truth is that we haven’t. Everyday is like a learning process for us. I told him what I understood about my brand at that time and he just said words aren’t just enough and I was like my goodness na true. If there is something I want to say to you, why am I singing? I might sing about the way someone breaks my heart and I want you to see my pain and understand what I am going through and eventually I am adding a little melody to it and it is good to listen to. It is something you want to close your eyes and say: “Okay, I am listening to this because it is relieving.” So, words aren’t just enough really. I just like to add a little melody to everything that I bring to the table and that is
why my name is Waje.
How do you get the inspiration to write your songs?
Most of the time, I write out of experience or I write because I am going through something at a point. I came out with a video which I thank God has been top on most music charts. On 9ja Top Ten, it was No. 1 for three weeks or thereabout. I think it is No. 2 now.
Being part of the industry, how would you describe the industry generally?
It is a funny industry. It is not easy but, at the same, we have so many things that we give God praise for. Beside that, when it comes to the challenges, it is difficult really for some people especially when you are not working with a label. The structure is a bit tricky, but one thing I can say about the Nigerian music industry is that we have been able to make the world recognize our music now and it is amazing. But, when it comes to me, personally, as a woman in the industry, I know that I have a long way to go. But with a lot of hard work, I believe
I will get there.
What is fashion like for you? How would you describe your style?
I think fashion, to me, is my own style, the way I see myself. Whatever you put on is a mirror of who you are inside. So, I think, for me, style is just about making people see the kind of person that I am. I am a T-shirt and jeans girl. On a typical day, you will see me on my jeans and T-shirt. If I have to dress for an event, I love dresses a lot because of my figure. With style, you should be comfortable.
When it comes to fashion, what will be your most cherished item?
That will be shoes. I love shoes. You know why? Because you can wear a crappy outfit but the moment you put on the shoes, you look different. I do a lot of heels but beside that, there is really nothing I can spend my money too much on. The other thing that I spend money on is not actually a fashion accessory. I like gadgets. I am just a gadget freak. It is very funny; sometimes, when there is no power and when they restore power, you see me charging all my stuff and my people think I am crazy. It is just something I love so much.
Can you say you are fulfilled doing this?
Yes. I am doing what I have always wanted to do but I haven’t gotten to the point where I want to get to. There is a lot out there that Waje has to work for.
Who would you love to do a collabo with?
I am the queen of collabos. I think I have done collabos with everybody but I would love to do a collabo with Dbanj, Asa, Nneka. That will be great. At the moment, I am working with a Ghanaian artiste and I love to challenge myself.
What would you want people to always take away with your music?
First of all, I would say that they should enjoy themselves, because music is about relaxation. Do you understand? Whatever mood you are in or whatever made you want to listen to it for the first time, make sure you get to that point; make sure you listen to it you understand. Then, just love music, real music. Appreciate music, love it to the point where you spread the gospel about it because I am basically just being me with my music. So, I guess that is what I want people to take with them.