Bayo Odusami, is popular as Howie T in the entertainment industry. His accomplishments include discovering and nurturing the music group P-Square. He spoke about several issues including his exit from Baseline Music in this interview with us.
There are people who insist that discovering P-Square is your biggest success, do you agree?
I won’t say that is my biggest success because I am still working. However, it is a great achievement. It happened way back in 2001, when I was working for a client. We decided to do a talent hunt all over Nigeria. We went to all the nook and cranny of the states in Nigeria. When we got to Jos, we met Peter and Paul. We did the competition and the rest is what you see today. After the competition, we took a step further and said how can we just throw these winners into the entertainment industry just like that? We decided to do an artiste’s developmental project where all the regional winners were invited and trained in areas of stage management, song writing, composition and all. We had a real school for them. We brought in notable names in the entertainment industry. The people that took the advice are the artistes you are seeing today. P-Square has come a long way. They took the advice and did extra work by themselves. They are where they are today. We just laid the foundation for them.
Can you be specific about the artistes who took the advice you gave?
The people who attended the development project and are visible today are P-Square, Nigga Raw and some others.
P-Square has been the biggest music group in Nigeria for some years now, is it because we can’t find new talents?
Of course, there are other groups, but at the end of the day we all realize that P-Square is indeed good and we are happy for that. The secret to the success of any artiste is hard work, P-Square is very hardworking.
What would you say is the secret of P-Square’s success?
Hard work, strategy and planning got P-Square to where they are today. They practically lived on stage. Even if you invite them to a party to perform, they will rehearse. Most Nigerian artistes I am sorry to say are lazy. They just wait for the day of the event and tell the DJ track one, track two, but P-Square is organised, they plan what they want to do. Even if it is a birthday party, they rehearse their dance, their song and the result is what you are seeing today. It is not magic.
Are you saying that laziness is what has seen good musicians such as Wande Coal and D’banj dropping to their current level of irrelevance?
I don’t know what you mean by dropping to their current level of irrelevance. But I know that if you are doing what is relevant you will be accepted. For instance, if your music is accepted by the people then you are good to go because it is the people who make the artiste. If your music is good people will call you and tell you. They will even call radio stations and ask why they are not playing your song. Artistes who have lost relevance have to go back to the drawing board and restructure.
Tell us one basic thing that has changed in music promotion
A lot has changed. Things are quite different from the way they used to be in the past. In the past, when you do a song and you want to send it to a radio station, you will have to put the Compact Disc (CD) in an envelope, seal it and send it to the station by hand. But now, if you do a song and you want to send it to a radio station from your office you can just send an e-mail and that is it. You can also put it on social media and if people love it that’s it.
You have a style of being on a project and suddenly you are gone, why is this?
I have always been someone that is challenged by what he does. Eight years ago, I conceptualised an event for kids. Then, we called it ‘Fantasy Island’, but by the time I rebranded I decided to call it Kiditopia. Kiditopia Fun Games is exactly the kind of games we grew up to watch on Telematch. It is various fun games put on television. That is what Kiditopia is all about. The last one we did was on Children’s Day. We had several games including sack race, carrying an egg with a spoon while running, mountain climbing and several others. It was indeed real fun.
During the P-Square separation crisis, you were quoted as saying that Jude Okoye was their problem, did you really said that?
No. The thing about success is that it has a lot of branches. Jude is P-Square’s manager, their elder brother and if they have issues they will resolve it. There will always be issues because there are issues even within a husband and wife who live together. Basically, that is what happened to P-Square. They had their disagreement; they settled it and they still have P-Square. It will be disheartening for Africa and indeed the whole world to say we no longer have P-Square. It will be disheartening to say we have Peter and we have Paul, but Peter and Paul together is a nice blend.
Are you saying that they can’t succeed individually?
Individually they are good. There is a producer, there is a dancer and also one of them plays the guitar. Paul produces, he also plays the guitar and composes. Peter plays the guitar and composes. Together as P-Square, they are hard to beat. It is a fantastic mix. When people are getting older, issues arise. Issues of opinion, ideas and all that, but if you are able to marry the two together as one, they are better because two heads are better than one. And in this case, they are three heads. We are not here to say who is good and who is bad because who is good in my opinion might be bad in other people’s opinion. As far as they are working together as P-Square, lets respect their opinion and enjoy the music.
You left Baseline Music unceremoniously, what really happened?
Actually, a lot of people don’t understand that in business you have a contract. I have no problem with Baseline. My contract with the company was to organise Baseline, start them, and build a platform for artistes such as Skales, Aramide, Chido and Saeon. They make good music, they are still making good music and I believe everybody is happy. Skales just dropped his second album, he has a contract to work with; Aramide just dropped her second album too. Everybody is doing well and we thank God for it. I am not the owner of Baseline, they were my clients and we had a two-year contract. After two years, Howie T continues, Baseline continues.
Is it not natural to want to see the seeds you planted become productive?
These seeds are different.
When somebody respects you enough to invite you to come and help him or her setup something, you have to leave to do something else when the job is done.
On a lighter note, tell us about the bubbly Howie T?
Howie T is a fun-loving person. I work hard and I play hard. Every morning, I wake up, pray to God for seeing the day and think of the next thing to do. I always love to do projects.
What was growing up like?
It was fantastic. My father was an Engineer. He passed on in 1988, he taught us basically everything that we know; he was the kind of person who would give you a free hand to choose what you want to do. I went to school, but still decided that I loved music. I was a DJ for 17 years.
How do you relax?
I like to go to clubs; I like to listen to mix tapes of DJs. I am a fun-loving person; I do my job, go to the lounge, listen to music, enjoy myself and go home. Basically, that is me.
There are all sorts of aspiring musicians out there, a word for them?
I will say that there is no bad music. The effort that you put into any music is good enough to make you improve on your last job. That is what I always tell people. It is that simple. When I was growing up, we use to buy records; we buy records based on our limited resources. You may have money for 30 records and you want 200 records, the shop will not give it to you for free, so you have to sit down and listen well before you make your choice. In other words, what I am trying to say is that you can have a lot of music, if the first one doesn’t sell, it does not mean that you should stop. You have to go back and ask yourself why it didn’t succeed and get it right. Once you fix it, you continue with your style. Wizkid’s albums have always been a success. If he drops an album, the next one will be bigger. It shows that he is a guy who listens to what people are doing out there, he listens to people like Chris Brown, Drake and asks himself what they are doing right. We have the same equipment that they are using, so all you have to do is go into the studio, do your music and put the Nigerian factor into it. Make a very good Nigerian sound and bring it out. Then, you must have money to promote the song and your brand. If you can do that then the sky is the limit.