Fragrance is one female musicians that displays a lot of confidence and believes in her self. Not new to the scene, the Warri, Delta State born lady is sure aiming for the top. In this interview with FUNMI ELUGBAJU, she bares her mind on issues relating to the music industry, her self and her music. Excerpts:
How would you describe yourself to someone meeting you for the first time?
My name is Fragrance and I am a singer. I was born in Warri Delta State to an Itsekiri father and a Scottish-Urhobo mother, which of course explains my colour. I refer to myself playfully as a quarter-caste.
What genre of music are you into?
Principally, I am a Rhythm and Blues act. I had experimented a lot with my music, delving into highlife, dance music just to appeal more to the Nigerian audience. My first single and video We be one featuring LKT is more of highlife/hiplife meeting fuji. So, my music, I may just categorise as good music
What new project are you working on now?
My sophomore album “Honeysweet”. This album is long overdue. In fact it has been pushed forward for over a year. But it will “drop” soon.
How has the industry been treating you?
Kindly. Very kindly. Yes there are challenges like when I was shortchanged by my former record label under which I released my debut album in 2007, “So Lovely”, a project which had such huge potentials all of which have nearly gone to waste for lack of continuity on their part (label) and an unwillingness to fulfill their side of the bargain. I have got good media support, even from the Nigerian Compass. I got the same from televsion stations even though I don’t have the financial muscle that some of my peers have.
What are your challenges in the industry?
Of course money. I too would like to go to South Africa and do the kind of videos Darey Art Alade is doing or that of Naeto C, but what can one do? We make the best of available resources. I am even luckier than a lot of my colleagues here. At least the great Deejay Tee shot my new video running on Mtv Base and other local and terrestrial stations
Have you ever regretted being a musician?
Truthfully? Yes oh! when hunger hammer you sometimes and no gari to drink sef. Hmm..”.
But then you remember that you chose to do this and you read and hear about how those at the top had it difficult as well, you go bear the hunger and turn am to fasting and praying and then use the anger to write something. I was born to sing and a singer I am.
Have you ever been embarrassed before?
Yes. At a show, my zipper got bad. I was professional about it and finished the performance but “I no find am funny at all sha!’
How would you define a good musician?
Beyonce. Look at her and whatever you see, that is a good musician. Point is, what is a good musician is a matter of taste and choice.
Who are your friends in the industry?
Just a few really. Kaka Igbokwe, Adol, maybe Goldie but I am a very private person. So, it is usually that we meet on our musical journey not like we just hang out. My friends are not in the industry. My real friends? Nigerian movies. I hang out with them a lot.
Who is your mentor in the industry?
Nobody really. Recently I got introduced to Christie Essien Igbokwe and she is phenomenal but I am more of a foreign music person. My mentor... Beyonce. She can sing and dance like... I beg she too much. But I learnt to sing listening to Mariah Carey.
How do you handle love advances from male admirers?
I dey run oh. Hmm. Almost every guy I talk to tries to take it further. It is the curse of a pretty woman. I just stay far away from everyone. When I become the star I am destined to be, then I will look around and definitely choose a guy. But now, na my project be my boyfriend. No distractions
Beyond music what do you do?
Is there something beyond music? I didn’t know. I don’t even want to know now. I have a one-track mind my sister. It is music music and music for me like Michael Jackson and Mariah Carey
In the league of top Nigerian artistes how would you rate yourself?
We dey climb the ladder small small. them Psquare and Asa dey up, but we are giving it our best shot. My talent will put me up there with them and beyond soon
What do you do for leisure?
Nigerian films, foreign series like Kyle XY; Heroes; Seeker etc. and then I sneak to the beach to feel the sand and water and sweet cool breeze.
Can you share your childhood memories?
Hmmmm.... You want to make me sad now. I lost my mum last year. I am from a poor home. My mum was carrying the whole burden of over eight of us. No television like the neighbours’. You know, we pray for Christmas so we can get new clothes. That is if we get. But we (my family) were and are close still. So, basically, we might not have had much food but love was in extra supply. However love no dey belleful person. But it has toughened me for what I am doing. When I don’t have paying shows, I don’t cry as much as those artistes that grew up having a lot. I just thank God for everything
From your point of view, what do you think is the problem of the Nigerian movie industry?
This may put me in trouble. but I think it is the movie and TV houses. They should pay us royalties for airing our songs and playing our videos. Instead we pay most of them. I mean they get so much money for adverts from showing our videos and playing our songs so we deserve some of the money. I mean, I can almost forgive Alaba but for TV houses and radio stations who are so educated and know what obtains in other climes and even inform us, to steal from us so much, is disheartening and discouraging. But I dey fear make them no go stop to play my music o! But the government must protect us artistes. It is an industry like any other that deserves to be protected and legislation made to ensure its continued growth. Imagine what will happen if all the artistes are frustrated into becoming robbers and prostitutes? Music gives youths a chance to add to society and instead of being a menace. Showkey says but for music, he’d have been an armed robber. That goes for a lot of the artistes that are stars today.
How come you have not been involved in scandals?
My sister, it’s God. I am lucky so far. I am just lucky thus far. And then again, I don’t do a few things some others do that will jeopardise my reputation. But nobody holy pass.
What do you think the government and the society at large can do to help the industry grow?
Government should ensure the artistes get their royalties from TV houses, radio and everyone that plays our music; even companies on roadside promo etc. and record labels should be prosecuted for withholding artistes’ royalties. Most artistes are too broke to afford a lawyer when they are grossly cheated. For example, my humble self. So it must be made a crime. And people should stop buying pirated compact discs, especially Alaba mixes. It is killing music sales.
What will you say is the laudable achievement you have made out of your profession?
I have shared the stage with Junior Reid (One Blood) in Port Harcourt. I have been number one on loads of radio stations including Rythm FM, Eko FM etc. I have been nominated twice at the AMEN awards for Best New Female and Best Female Vocalists. I have also been nominated at the NMAs. I have been number two on Glo charts; quite a few, but soon it will be an avalanche of awards.
Is there any man in your life?
If Jesus is male, then Yes. Jesus is in my life or if brothers count, then Misan, Victor and solo are but if by that question you mean a boyfriend as in.. you know... Boyfriend... no.
Can we meet him?
Yes, read the Bible
What are the challenges you face as a musician?
I no get enough money.
Have you ever been intimidated by any of your colleagues in the industry?
Intimidated? I have done a song with 2face, Rymzo, Faze, Lkt, Freestyle - all heavyweights and I did spectacularly. So, who would intimidate me? I be Warri girl o! dem no dey fear?
If you were told you had an hour to live what positive impact would you make?
Eh! Empty my account and give the money to my elder brother. Seriously, my music is about love especially between couples and we cannot have enough of that especially in this day and age of divorces. That is positive impacting. I need not have just an hour to live before doing something positive.
Can you say that you are fulfilled?
Fulfilled ke? I am hungry for success. I have not even started yet, and it is the kind of insatiable hunger that will take me to the Zenith of my career hm... I haven’t brought Nigeria the Grammy, you are talking of fulfillment. I dey hungry die.
What message do you have for your fans?
Support Fragrance. Vote and pray for me whenever. And here is something courtesy Funmi and the Nigerian Compass, you can download my song Boyfriend ft 2face Idibia.