The road to the top is never easy. This also applies to the journey of becoming a top-notch, recognized artist in the Nigerian industry. Read all about Danlil's music journey here.
Music is serious business, breaking into the music industry in Nigeria isn’t as easy. A lot of artists spend well over a decade putting out their content, investing millions in promotion with the hope that one day they become A-list artists selling out local and international shows.
On this episode of Lockdown Convos, I had a conversation with the up and coming artist, known popularly by his stage moniker, Danlil, about his journey into the Nigerian music industry.
When did you start music?
As a young child, I had started singing but as from 2009, 2010 I started going to the studio officially. So as of late 2010, I started my first recording in the studio. I actually started from Benin City. I grew up there.
Where are you from?
I'm an Ibo boy. But I grew up in Edo State. I was born and brought up in Benin City, Edo State.
So how was growing up in Benin City, Edo State?
It was great. It was really nice. Unlike the Benin we know now, as of then, it was a nice place to grow up with your kids, if you monitor your kids very well and probably put your kid in a good school and all that. But right now, I think everything is so somehow right now. So many things are happening. Young boys and girls are facing trials. Back then, it wasn't like that. It was a very nice place.
I was there (Benin) since 1999, though I and my mum travelled to the East, that was year 2000. We stayed in the East for like two years because I wasn't speaking Ibo Language and they (my parents) were afraid probably I'll grow up like that and I won't be able to communicate in Ibo.
And possibly people will think that I'm from Edo State and that's why my dad said we should go to the East, so I'll spend some time there. We came back 2003 or so to Benin. Then, I started my primary school again from there till my university days.
How long have you been in Lagos for?
Officially, I came to Lagos in 2017.
I've been coming to Lagos, from when I was in school. In my year one, I usually came to Lagos. Probably for a music promo and all that. The first time I came to Lagos, I stayed in Agege area. The first ever time I came to Lagos was for an interview on Hip TV. And that was 2013, I think. And It was because of music. And so, from thereon, I think 2014, I also came then in 2016. But back then when I visited Lagos, I went back almost immediately because I was in school in Benin City.
I actually started school in Benin City, University of Benin (UniBen). I did my year 1 in UniBen and my dad didn't want me to do the course they gave to me because I was going for Civil Engineering, but I was given another course. So, I did just a year there, then I wrote again for a private university called Madonna University.
It was during my Industrial Training in 2017, I worked it out to Lagos then I came to Lagos. It was from there I started staying in Lagos for a long period. Because the times came around I normally stayed four days and go back but this time I was staying up to 4-5 months. Because I was undergoing my Industrial Training. Then, after that, I graduated and went on for NYSC which is actually in Lagos and I'll be done in like 2 to 3 months from now. So, since 2017, I've been in Lagos.
I was going through your page and noticed that the quality of your videos are nice, as well as the quality of your songs. So, why are you not at the top?
Let me just give a straight answer. You know in music, you don't just expect to come into the music industry and start being at the top.There are so many artists and people there. There are so many that are even very good, from Nigeria and beyond. The only thing is that you have to keep believing in yourself, even though sometimes it can be very frustrating. I've actually had the thoughts of slowing down. I've also had many setbacks in my life from music. Because, like I told you, I started doing music from when I wrote Jamb.
But I'm the kind of person that if I want to do something I do it to the fullest. I don't just stop immediately. I know many of my friends that have stopped. They just try their best and if it's not working out, they just leave it.
For me, I see music as my thing. It is something I can actually do anytime I want. It's not something I force myself to do. So, I can be working and doing my music. That was what I was actually thinking then. But it got to a stage where I decided to focus more on my music and make more from my music. Being straightforward, so many artists actually don't make a living out of their music. So that’s where the frustration comes from. And then you start venturing into other stuffs. Right now, I thank God for the likes of PSquare and CO, those are music entrepreneurs. They make a living from their music. At a point, I slowed down and I had to go and study more about the music industry and how to make a living from it. That's what so many musicians don't actually study. Most of them just keep investing and they get nothing out of what they are doing.
For me, it's "God's time is the best." You on your end, just keep working and working. Once you are consistent, one day one of your songs will just be a hit. You don't know how it’s going to happen. I've seen so many guys like that, they just keep working and then they come out with a song and it just goes viral. And that's not where they started from. They've been singing and trying their best. For instance, Rhema he was a Benin boy too, did a gospel video with the gospel musician, Alpha B. They kept on grinding and working but look at them now. And they are still very young. I wish I had such opportunity in my time. Also, a good sponsorship, if you have a good sponsor ready to invest in you and your music then everything becomes faster for you. But if you don't have a good sponsorship or investors and all that, you don't have to kill yourself. Just keep working and grinding before you know it, you'll get there.
What is your creative process like? How long does it take to create your songs?
For instance, one morning I just woke up and went to my studio (I decided I don't want to do a love song or party jamb this pandemic)I got beats and just started vibing to the beats and I didn't expect to bring out any song. I didn't write the song, it was a free style. So, in all, it just took me like 30 minutes. The song was done, then I called up my sound engineer to come and mix. And two days later, the song was ready. Right now, the song has over five hundred thousand views. And I did this song in 30 minutes. That's why I said I can actually do my music and do anything I want to do. I listen to a whole lot of artists, so I just get some inspiration from them, too. And some things happening around me and my environment and the world. Most times, I don't write. There was a song I released It's on YouTube, it is titled "Apology." It actually vibes to my local dialect in that song (Igbo). From the beginning to the end, I didn't write anything
The video you saw on my page, "Piantewe", I didn't write that song. And my producer is always begging me to write.
That's not how I do all my songs. Some of my songs are written. Right now, I'm actually trying to write most of my songs, because it is important. Not every song you need to freestyle.
So, are you going to be ready for a freestyle session this weekend?
I don't really do freestyle, I'm not a rapper. I don't want to free style something that my Oga at the top will now call me. I'm not a freestyle kind of person. There are even some rappers that don't know how to freestyle. For me though, it depends on my mood.
What would you say is your style of music?
I will say Afro-pop, Afrobeat. But most often, I like to go versatile, I like to do other stuff. I actually had a contact with an American producer. He sent me some beats, and the kind of music he produces are trap music. I have never done trap before but I just had to flow. Because he said I could vibe to his songs through his beats and we could work together. Now, the redemption song I did is a reggae kind of vibe. But well, I do Afrobeat officially.