It has been three months since Fiokee released his stunning debut album “MAN”. It is no secret that he has won the hearts of millions of music lovers home and abroad with his original, unique melody and clever sound. However, I took a little venture to find out a little bit more about the man behind the music.
Cathy Ben-Ameh: How did your passion for music flare-up?
Fiokee: Okay. My passion for music started when I was six, in 1988 I remember when I was in a children’s choir, they used to teach us solfa notation. Before we sing to any language, we would write it in solfa notation. So, it was easier for me to learn how to interpret melodies and write the notes out before learning the words. So, if you sing in Yoruba, Hausa, Ibo, any language I could write the notes out irrespective of the language. I don’t even need to know the language but, the sound and the melody, I could write it and that helped me in learning how to play instruments. The foundation was very strong. In the year 2000 (22 years ago), I came across a taxi driver who started teaching me the guitar and just for two months I was already getting what I needed to learn from him and I stopped learning because I didn’t have money to continue my lectures and to rent the acoustic guitar. I started going from one church to another; after a year I taught him, became a pro guitarist, I started playing with a live band, took over from him for like three years then moved to another city called Warri where I became a household name. That was how my journey started as a guitarist. Before you know, I came for a reality show in 2008 – “Star Quest”. After winning Star Quest moved to Lagos, signed to Kennis Music for a year deal. 2010, joined D’Banj after I recorded guitar on “Scapegoat”. That was how I was able to break into the industry as a top guitarist.
Cathy Ben-Ameh: Which players made an impact on you at that stage?
Fiokee: The guitarists that have made an impact on me are Norman Brown, George Benson, and Earl Klugh. Those are the major influencers that have impacted my life in a way that when I listen to them, I try to get the structure of their fingers on how to move on the guitar board flexibly. I didn’t allow them to influence the way that I sound too much because I didn’t want people to say that I sound like them. I wanted to be original
Cathy Ben-Ameh: What do you enjoy the most about playing the guitar? What do you enjoy most about being a musician?
Fiokee: Guitar helps me find peace around me. I enjoy myself because I know what I am doing. The sound that comes from my melodies is very emotional and deep. I have gone through a lot in life so I try to transfer all my emotions to my instrument so that when you listen you can imagine where I am coming from. My guitar…anytime I hold my guitar it gives me joy. It helps me forget about so many things. And receiving feedback from listeners that they connect with my sound gives me joy and encouragement to do more. I can tell from all the hit afrobeat songs I have recorded since 2010 that seventy percent of them were influenced by my guitar. People always look out for that guitar sound. That gives me joy, gives me confidence that “oh! You have something that people love” and shows that I am actually doing it right. I will continue and will not stop. This is my call and Fiokee sound is here to stay. I am already a legend. I am already creating something legendary that nobody has ever done before.
Cathy Ben-Ameh: Tell me about your best and worst performances.
Fiokee:My best performances are always on stage with Flavour and D’Banj. Sometimes when you have your worst performances, it’s not just because it’s from you; maybe it’s from the sound and they don’t pay attention to the instruments. Most of the events here in Nigeria, once they have their hall, the backdrop, they only care about the brands they are promoting and don’t care about the instruments. They pay less attention to the camera, the artist, the sound system, so most of the time we happen to have bad sound and engineering which negatively affects our performance on stage. The audience may not always know. I always find a way to balance it. But trust me! Most of my performances are always lit!
Cathy Ben-Ameh: If you could change one thing in the Nigerian music industry, what would it be?
Fiokee:If I could change one thing in the Nigerian music industry, I would change the way that instrumentalists are being treated. The bullying, the maltreatment, the segregation, the lack of proper recognition in this part of the industry is very poor. That’s why I have been doing everything to push the narrative about how instrumentalists need to be added value. In the industry, you can see that the DJs are pushing, the artistes are doing it, the comedians are doing it. But the instrumentalists, they are trying everything possible to suppress. But thank God for somebody like me. I have been able to break into that mainstream market and I believe that other instrumentalists will follow suit. It’s been crazy but I thank God that gradually we are getting our flowers.
Cathy Ben-Ameh: What are your plans for the coming months?
Fiokee: My plans for upcoming months…’Though I dropped my album on January 10 on my fortieth birthday, for now, I am trying to push the album. You know, it’s not just a single track. It’s a fourteen-track album. You know what it means to make sure that all fourteen tracks are being pushed out there so gradually I am pushing them one after the other as singles. I’ll be doing this while I prepare to start my next project probably at the end of this year.
Cathy Ben-Ameh: If it wasn’t a music career, what would you be doing?
Fiokee: I studied Mechanical Engineering so maybe I would have been a Mechanical Engineer. Maybe in time, I could venture into other businesses.
Cathy Ben-Ameh: Chatting with you has been quite inspiring. Thank you Fiokee for sharing your time with us today.
After watching Pheelz, Femi Leye, BNXN and Glitch Africa choir perform Pheelz’s new hit “Finesse” at the Glitch Sessions a few days ago, I was smitten by Femi Leye’s performance and asked him a few questions about his art to satisfy the curiosity of some who have not heard more about him before now.