Nosa Osayanmwen, otherwise known in the music industry as Djinee, one of the very few artistes around who play top quality music
When you set out to be a musician, what kind of music did you have in mind?
Well, I didn’t really set out to do any particular genre of music because I just wanted to make music. For me, it was all about the artistry, and more importantly, people loving what I do. Truly, there are some songs I am not really strong in, like rap music and I’ll probably not do hip-hop. But then I grew up listening to a lot of rock music. So definitely, you’ll hear me doing more of rock and guitars.
But many people are of the opinion that you play more of mature songs like classical music.
Yes, I grew up doing classical music. I studied classical music and I have done a couple of concerts. Of course in Nigeria, this genre of music is not the type you hear always, and I wouldn’t be able to reach a lot of fans through it. So for people to hear me, I had to create a fusion between contemporary music and classical music. That was what informed my first music, entitled Ego. From then on, I had to involve a little more of classical music in terms of my vocals delivery and discipline in music.
So, what really would you call your kind of music?
Right now, I’ll say I play urban contemporary. Some people may want to say I play R & B, but I don’t. I don’t lean on R & B a lot.
Now, how did you get into music, especially the classical form?
Well, it started simple. I had a lot of classical musician friends, and worked and recorded with a lot of them. By virtue of the fact that I knew them personally, like the violinist, Cheloist Pianist and so on, and also going to concerts with them. I found out that I started developing a deep affection for the genre. I learnt all I know about classical music here in Nigeria. I have had concerts of my own at the Music Society of Nigeria, MUSON.
But generally, I’ll say I got into music by first of all listening to it. I have been doing this since I was about four-years-old. I grew up listening to ABBA, Bruce Springsteen, Fleetwood Mac, Jimmy Cliff, Inciano Pavorotti and a whole a lot others. But as I used to say, I have my foundations in music deeply rooted in Opera/classical music studying the likes of Beethoven, Isocelli, Vivaldi, Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Bach et cetera. But I went into music full-time between 1997 and 1998 to increase my audience and make more money.
Are you saying there is no money to be made in classical music?
No, not at all. Please don’t get me wrong. This genre of music has made many people rich. But we know that in Nigeria, only a few enjoy such music. I have been part of it and I made little money from it when I was younger. I just wanted to reach a wider audience, that’s why I am doing what I am doing – infusing other sounds into classical music and it has paid off for me. Let’s just say I am trying to make money (contemporary), while still trying to stay true to my roots (classical).
But many believe that classical music is for the rich in any society. Do you hold that same thought?
To an extent, the reason why you see most financially stable people listen to classical music is because it is elitist in nature, and there is a lot of discipline in it. A lot of people are not really disciplined but you’ll see that some of these elites still listen to the music. You know, between symphonies, you don’t have to clap or yell, even though there is a silent period in the music. You have to stay calm until the song comes to an end. It is quite the opposite when it comes to contemporary music where everybody yells. Classical music is a case of branding. The music brands itself.
Would you say deviating from classical music has paid off for you?
Definitely well, I probably will still put up a classical work in my album, but what I am doing now is definitely paying off. I am doing contemporary presently and the fact that I have a discipline in classical music has made me stand out from the rest of my peers. This is my sixth year after I released my first album, and I am still on top.
When would you regard as the time you got your major break, when you released your first album or when you did a collaboration with M.I?
I got my first break after I released my first single. Ego gave me my break. When you ask if I got my break through M.I, it sounds funny. If you now the story between us then you’ll understand. I met M. I after I had had my break in the music industry. After he met me and we worked together, his break came. That is how it is, my break came with Ego, and till today, a lot of people still reckon with my first single, Ego, than any other song I have done.
So, how many albums do you have in the market so far?
I have one album in the market still. I have been very unprolific in my release of albums but my second album is on the way. I am presently working on releasing new singles accompanied with their videos.
How did you get the name Djinee?
It’s a figment of my imagination, really. It is from the mystical Genie– the one that makes the wish of others come through. It’s from the story, Aladin.
A lot of musicians talk about their strong and weak points. What would you say are yours?
I’ll say my strong point is my vocal ability and the weak point is my guitar ability. I have always liked the guitar and tried to play it as best as I could, but I don’t think I have reached there yet. Some people say I play well, but I know right now, I’m not the best guitarist out there. But
when it comes to vocals, I believe I am on course.
Despite the fact that you have tried to maintain a “good boy” image over the years, we have had cause to read some scandals in which you are involved. How true are they?
I would like to say it is more of rumours, not scandal. I have never been involved in a scandal and will not allow myself to. Some of the tabloids wrote that I was sleeping with an actress who I had never even met before. I also read once that I was caught drinking in a bar with Tu-Face, that we were behaving irrationally with a couple of girls. It’s not true you know, and all these were said a few years ago. Tu-Face and I are friends and colleagues but we don’t drink together.
Who produced your monster hit, Ego?
O, it’s Cobhams Asuquo. You just got to give it to him. He is just gifted. After Ego, we have done a couple of other works together and he keeps proving himself better and better