Oluwatobi Wande Ojosipe otherwise called Wande Coal has become a force to reckon with in the music industry today. The Ogun State-born musician who made his entry into the music industry as a dancer with Mo’Hits Records has become very popular with his Bumper to bumper album. He spoke with FUNMI SALOME JOHNSON on his childhood, the future of his music career and life in general. Excerpts:
How did you get into music. Was it a childhood dream or something else?
Basically, music has been there from childhood. I started music from the church, that is, the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG). Then our house used to be near the church and they kept the musical instruments in our house. I started from teenage choir, adult choir through to mass choir. From mass choir I moved to a group called Salvation Boys. We picked ourselves from different parishes of the church. We were about eight boys singing on acapela. From there I got into UNILAG, where I could not go for church programmes and handle school at the same time. But meanwhile, I had been listening to Michael Jackson and had been dancing by the side. I also love to dance as well and you can see that from the video. I continued dancing for different shows at UNILAG.
What exactly inspired you into music?
I have watched a lot of international stars and I felt that I needed to create my own impact and make my own change in the musical circle.
Do you play any musical instrument at all?
Yes I play the drums and I also play keyboard. As a matter if fact, I have enrolled in a music school to perfect my skills in the area of key board playing.
Do you have a band? If not are you thinking of putting one together?
We have been using live bands to play at performances and shows. The show we had with Ken Latinwo, we used the band. I do not have a band of my own but we used the Mo Hits band, the same band that D’banj uses.
Which was your first professional job?
My first paid job was for Mainframe Production, Segun Adeshila, where I danced as a soundtrack artiste. My second show was for Extra Smooth. I have been in the industry for a while dancing for different artistes. I have danced for Angelica, Boulevard, and Asa, when he used to handle Rock the Mic programme for Channel One, on Toyin Street. I moved from Ijanikin to Mushin, where I stayed with my grandmother. It was Mushin that groomed me. I was going to dance and music lessons. It was from Mushin that I moved on to school and D’banj and Don Jazzy had come into the Nigeria entertainment industry. I saw them and had been dreaming to meet them.
How did you meet Don Jazzy and D’Banj?
I met them at a show where I performed with Konga at UNILAG. Konga later took me to D’Banj and Don Jazzy and asked me to perform for them and I did without thinking whether they would sign me on or not, I did very well. This was in early 2006. I was beating my chest and performing for them, while they sat in a circle and listened. They got my number and called me the next day. Since that day till this moment, I have been with Mo’Hits Record.
How did you come about the name Wande Coal?
My name is Ojosipe Oluwatobi Wande. As said earlier, Wande is my last name. I picked Wande and added my colour, ‘Charcoal.’ I removed the ‘char’ and adopted the ‘coal.’
What inspires your lyrics?
I get my inspiration from the environment I am; things that I hear and anything that I see or that comes my way. Immediately I just hear it, anything that comes to my mind, I just form a song with it.
You said you grew up in Mushin and it is obvious that you are proud of the area, especially the way you mention it in your songs.
I grew up partly in Mushin. I spent all my schooling days in Ijanikin but all the while my mother, my grandmother and everyone are in Mushin. So I I always go back to Mushin. Yes, I am proud of Mushin for the fact that a lot of people feel those that live in Mushin are not educated or that they are very bad people. I just felt that I needed to sing about it. If you listen to my song very well, you would see that I did not portray myself as Butty. but I prefer to let people know where I am from which is Mushin and at the same time, I am not the bush type. The music reflected a combination of both classes. I love being myself and I love to be real at all times.
What kind of a child were you?
I was stubborn but not so much. I always like to play out and catch fun and you know it is not all the time that one would have such freedom as a child. So, in that area, I would say I was stubborn. You know I love to dance a lot, so I always find ways of going out to attend dancing competitions and all that.
How many dancing competitions did you win?
I have won at different dancing competitions but they were all local competitions. Besides my mother was very strict and she never gave me a breathing space. She wanted to ensure that I behave well. She was a teacher and she was very strict.
What about your dad?
My dad was a businessman.
Are there some things that you have learnt from your parents that guide your decisions now as an adult?
Yes, I have learnt a lot. One of the things I have learnt is never to look down on people. No matter what, try and listen to them; pick the one that is useful to you and leave the ones you do not need. But if you do not listen to them in the first place, you may never have gotten anything. So, no matter what the situation is, I will still listen to what you have to say first. I learnt humility from them and it has helped me far in life.
What happened to your admission in UNILAG?
I had to defer my programme when I got the opportunity to go on tour of the US for my musical career because that could be the only opportunity for me.
Do you have any regret deferring school for music?
I have no regrets at all because I know what opportunities music has given me. But now, I am in a school of music where I am learning to play the keyboard professionally.
What lessons have you as an artiste learnt from the death of Da Grin?
The death of Da Grin is very sad. He is going to be irreplaceable in a very long time. That guy was one of the most talented rap artistes Nigeria ever produced. If he was alive today, in ten years to come, he would be the rave of rap in Nigeria. It is most unfortunate he had to leave so unexpectedly. The lesson to learn from his death is that as an artiste that has become popular, you should not be walking around alone; at least if you have to go out, do so in company of your friends or your colleagues. Once you have become popular and known, you don’t own your life any more because others are watching. So, it is always very important to to always remember that. For me, I don’t walk around alone anymore. I need my colleagues and I don’t go anywhere without them.
What price would you say you have had to pay for stardom?
I have paid a lot. Before getting to where I am today, I have been through a lot. You know that there is no gain without pain. You have to put your head down for people to step on just to get to where you are going and I have been through all of these. For you to have a lasting stardom, you have to start small so that you can last. If you rise up just like that, definitely you may not last. So, it is always good to rise gradually so that the fame can last. You know that slow and steady they say wins the race.
What are some of those things you used to do that you cannot do any more?
Those days when I get to ghetto, all my guys would start hailing me and all that but now, I seldom go there. I know where to see my friends and when to see them whenever I want to. I cannot even go to Mushin now because if I do, I can’t tell you the number of people that will gather at my grand father’s house wanting to see me; some because they feel that I have all the money in the world and that is not the situation. I just get down with my friends at other places whenever I want to.
Who is the lucky girl girl in your life now?
For now, I do not have any lucky girl in my life.
Why or are you a virgin?
(Laughs) Ah! Okay, yes, I am a virgin if that is what you want to hear.
What kind of girl attracts you?
I love a nice, quiet girl that is easy going and very endowed.
How do you mean endowed?
Everything now. She must have the gbogbo and the gbagba. You know, she must have front and she must have back... you know what I mean now. You know I am an African man and it is what I want that I want.
When are we expecting the wedding bells to ring?
Wedding ke. My daddy is not married yet so why should I marry now. I am still too young for marriage. When my daddy, D’Banj, gets married then I will marry. I am still enjoying myself now. Marriage is not for me now, music is for me.
When are we expecting your next album?
My next album will come in 2011. It is likely to come in the middle of 2011.
So, how many tracks are we expecting in it?
Let us wait till then and see what God does.
How many collaborations have you done now
I have done quite a few. I have done Ikechuckwu and some others and we are still working on some new ones.
What is your assessment of the music industry in Nigeria?
We are making more sense. We have not been listening to foreign music like it used to be. At least, now we have more that we can call our own.
You seem to be the rave of the moment. What is your bill like to have you on a show?
It may sound funny but it is the truth, I don’t discuss money, my manager does. Mine is to come on stage and play. They do all the bargaining and call me to come and work and my own is to just get to the venue and perform. I don’t even know how much the charge for any event or show is.
What is your vision for your career in three years time?
I intend to have a talent hunt for the less-privileged ones in the music industry. I want a situation where they will be able to showcase their talents in music and in the use of instrument. It will be for less-privileged teenagers. It will be my own way of giving back to the society that has made me what I am today.
Who is your role model?
I have quite a number of role models. D’Banj is one of my role models. Then I also love Fashola. I want to be like him. I like the way he does his things and the way he goes about cleaning up Lagos. As a matter of fact, I was recently made an Environmental Ambassador for Lagos State.
What is it about and what are you expected to do as an Environmental Ambassador?
I will encourage all Lagosians to keep the environment clean and create awareness for them. A sound track is on the way to that effect.