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Nairobi-based Nigerian musician, Isaiah Tolulope

How different is No Fake Promises from your previous releases Better Tomorrow and Too Bad?

No Fake Promises holds a different storyline and also comes with a video. I’m working on videos for the other two and they will be distinct from each other.

Are you working on an album or just dropping singles?

I want to work with singles first to test the waters. I will start working on my first album when time is right.

Since you live in Kenya, it would be crazy not to ask this; are you working with any local artiste?

Oh yes. Actually, I’m featuring a local musician Wavinya Williams on one of my songs called Put A Smile. I would like to work with more local artistes in future because there is a lot of good stuff here.

How would you describe the type of music you do?

I’m Nigerian and we are known for the Afro beat sound and that is where my music borrows from. And since I’m based in Kenya, I’ve done my research on what Kenyans or rather East Africans like; and so my music is delivering the type of sound they want.

So you are tailoring your sound to fit the taste of East Africans?

Exactly. That is what I’m doing. This does not mean I will neglect my fans from other parts of Africa, but for now, I would like to have a focus then build on it to cross borders in due time.

As a fairly newbie in the industry, what strategies are you using to create a presence that can attract attention in Kenya?

My team has a plan, which I believe will work — I’m not alone in this. I’m counting more on releasing quality content that people can look at and ask for more. I’m here to play music and I would like to do my best and maximise on the resources I have to produce hits that make it to top music charts. I also plan to interact with my fans more often on social media platforms.

How about in Nigeria?

When the time comes, I will know what to do in order to make a name in Nigeria. I’m not saying I’m not doing that as I work in Kenya, I want to take one step at a time. I will find a way to promote my music there as I simultaneously do it here. One thing I know for sure is that it will be much easier to promote music in Nigeria than it is here.

If it is much easier to be a hit in Nigeria, why then take a risk with East Africa?

I’ve always wanted to be a pan-African musician. I do not only want to be a hit only in my country. I want to offer a little bit of something for everyone. The only thing is that in Nigeria, they are obviously more likely to understand my language but here I have to work a bit harder, which is okay with me.

But they say music is a universal language that moves people regardless of where they come from. So maybe language barrier can’t be reason enough.

I totally agree. So, instead of giving all kinds of excuses, I will get down on it and show my people, across the continent, what I’m talking about so that they can jam to my music wherever they are.

Why should people listen to you and not the likes of your countrymen such as Elvis Who?

Of course, you should listen to everybody and anybody you like. What distinguishes us is the message we pass across to our audiences. It will never be the same. The way we render that message can never be similar because all artistes have their own styles of music creation and performance. My delivery and sound sets me apart from other musicians. I offer authenticity.

As an upcoming full-time musician, what are some of your fears when it comes to your job?

You know, the thing with me is that I take one day at a time. I know that this journey is going to get tough and I’m bracing for it. I don’t think anything challenging that comes my way will be strong enough to push me off course. I have a very supportive team that I trust in and know that they will always have my back. I wouldn’t particularly say I have petrifying fears. I understand there will be good days and bad days.

What do you have in store in terms of tours and shows?

I’m going to perform at a show in Nigeria during Easter. So we’ll see how that goes. I’m also working on something good for my Kenyan homies. Watch this space.

Do you intend to stay in Kenya for the rest of your life?

That is a hard question to give a definite answer to because you never know where music takes you. For now I’m here and as time goes, I will know what the future comes with in that sense. I live my options open.

How many hours do you spend in a studio making music?

I have a studio in my house and so I’m always working on music everyday for hours. It must have cost a lot of money to install your own studio at home. It did but when you want to be good at what you do, you have to be ready to spend less on the best equipment. You buy one thing at ago depending on your financial capability. Then you keep on upgrading your system until you get a full set that you can efficiently make music with.

What is that one thing that you wish you could do more?

I think drumming. When I was a kid, I was in a band and I used to play drums. Sometimes thinking about it makes me nostalgic. I would be happy to play a set of drums again.

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