Lami Philips isn’t your regular kind of singer…Soul music is her tough and she sure knows how to hold her own.
Catching up with her on the Island on a very busy Wednesday, Lami was of course warm and calm, willing to tell you anything you wanted to know…such a jolly good fellow
She opened up over a sundry issues from her career, her marriage and fashion sense.
So how’s life been treating you lately?
It’s been fine and challenging
What have you been up to?
I don’t think there’s much at the moment. We are working on the album. I just got back mixing the live portion of the album. And the studio portion, I’m doing most of the collaborations in Lagos and we are album done with that. It’s most challenging when you have collaborations working with your schedule and the other person’s schedule.
How many track on it?
It won’t be more than 13 even though we’ve recorded about 25 songs.
Because I think that when you have too many songs on an album, some of them won’t get the chance to breath. And I want to put just what I’m sure my fans will want to listen to now. Some of them may be of free downloads later on.
What’s the title and who did you collaborate with
I don’t want to say that yet until we are done. I want it to have the element of surprise.
So when should your fans expect the album to drop?
Fingers crossed. Any time from next month.
You’ve been active on social media these days, posting pictures. You didn’t use to be like that…
Honestly speaking, I’m not the social media type. I’m not into this chatting because it’s a lot of work for me. But the fantastic thing is that your Instagram allows you to post on Facebook and Twitter at the same time. That’s why it seems as though I’m everywhere. So, it’s easy for me to just post a picture and put a comment on Instagram and then send them to my Twitter and Fcaebook. If you watch on my Twitter feed, you’d see that I’m not as active but I’m trying
You’ve also been featuring in other artistes videos unlike in the past…that Banky W’s video. Falz’s ‘Marry Me’…
I really believe in time and chances. I believe in seasons. When the first album came out, I needed time to rest because everything happened too fast for me. When I came to Lagos, I didn’t know that when I put songs out there, it was going to move as fast as it did.
So, it moved faster than I expected and I found myself shooting videos and traveling a lot. So, I started recording for the second album and the first thing I needed to do was chill out, spend some time with my husband and my daughter, then get my bearing for a proper team for the second album, and that too doesn’t come easy because Nigeria is weird when it comes to finding the right people. But now that the album is also done, I feel like I can do some other things. I go out more than usual although I still selective. I don’t show up in everybody’s video. Banky is my day one hommie from when I came back into Nigeria. He’s one of the first artistes that I met. He called me and gave me like an hour to show up and shoot the video. He was also in one of the first videos that I shot, ‘Nothing Do You’. I gave him like 24hours notice as well. So, there are people like that who have your back so, whenever they need you, you just have to show up.
I totally saw a new Lami in those videos because I didn’t know you can act. Aren’t you thinking about going into acting soon?
I actually was in theatre when I was in London, and I’m reading some scripts right now but, it has to be the right thing for me. One of the things here is that when a singer things that she can act or when ac actress thinks that she can sing so, it’s always good for you to do what is critically put together and not just cheap things. So, I’m ready different scripts and I have one that I’m very close to accepting.
You are one of the soul singers we have in the country but it’s surprising not to see you into deals with MTN, Globacom and the rest. Why?
I don’t weigh my success with things like that. Although it’ll be fantastic to have something like that but generally speaking, soul music is still finding its feet in Nigeria and in terms that we don’t have a lot of people who comprehend the music. I’ve been blessed to start working with a good working agent and they understand my brand more and they also work with different brand so, if it comes that a brand wants to endorse me then, that’s fine. I think it’s the new fad but not everyone can be a brand ambassador. I’m not killing myself over it. I’d rather be paid a good money for the gigs I do which happens anyway so, I’m content with that.
Why is that you don’t show off your husband on social media like other female celebs do?
No, you haven’t been checking(laughs). Although it’s not like as often as some other people. You have to prayerfully find a proper balance between your private and public persona. I see music as my job. If I was working in a bank, I wouldn’t put my husband’s picture on the checks that I sign or on documents. But once in a while, I do put it out there because I want people to know I have a fantastic husband and a good home life. But he’s also an individual who’s doing his own thing and I have to respect that. I also thing sometimes when you over indulge the public then, you give them the right to have an opinion about certain thing. But when we were on vacation, I put up a lot of pictures about what we are doing but I try to put the focus on myself so it doesn’t start to too much because I’m very protective about my marriage because it means the whole world to me.
So when is your daughter getting a sibling? She’s like 5 years already?
(laughs)For me, my husband and I are just taking our time. There’s no time to put on all these things. We both have very busy lifestyles and I consider myself one of the luckiest mothers in the world. So whatever we do, we love to do it properly. So, she will have a sibling in God’s time. Are you God?(laughs).
If you’re not a singer, what else would you have been?
I like working with children especially the ones between the ages of 1-4. So, if I wasn’t a singer, I’d like to get involved with them.
Do you have other businesses aside music?
Yes, primarily for now.
I’m sure you’d have had some embarrassing moments on the job
Not really. What’s funny is that what other people consider embarrassing, I see it as funny. I’m not really sensitive like that. If a fan says something funny or stupid to me, I’d rather laugh it off. My friends and I don’t take things like that too seriously. There was a time I tripped on red carpet and my friends and I sat there the whole time and laughed over it. We weren’t embarrassed about it.
You don’t have friends in the industry. Why?
That’s what you think.
So aside Waje, who and who are your friends?
I’m close to a lot of people. For example, I completely adore Sasha and I have some of them who we meet up at my house and hang out but we are very private people and don’t feel the need to post pictures for all to see. I’m very passionate that the women in the industry are close enough and I don’t think there’s an artiste I don’t consider my friends. They also know that I don’t get close to people easily but when I do, I do everything necessary expected of me as a friend- Waje, Omawunmi, Tiwa, Sasha, Toke, Omoni Oboli, Mowe Abebe, there’s a group of us, Fade Ogunro, Toolz, Rita Dominic
I’ve notice you like wearing low shoes a lot despite your height
I’m a shoe person and if I go shopping, I might spend 90% of my budget on shoes, few t-shirts and easy pants- it’s the way I am. I’m a simple person. I like being comfortable unless it’s a red carpet event. But I’m short and I like the fact that I’m short(laughs), and when I’m walking, I walk very fast so, I don’t like anything holding me back. I like trainers a lot
Few of you are into soul music in Nigeria, are you not thinking about spicing it up
I don’t go into the studio thinking to do soul music. I write and then we put it together. People listen to soul music and think it’s melancholy because it’s soft. But there are different types of soul music- funk soul, afro soul, rap soul and the likes. But apart from that, soul music has a really long way to go in Nigeria, but even hiphop had a long stretch before it started being this accepted. For me, I’m not about trying to fit in because that’s boring. I want to listen to my music in like 60 years and be proud of what I’ve done. So I don’t care if it’s fast or slow, as long as it comes from my soul then, I’ll do it
Aren’t you thinking of retiring someday?
Soul musicians never retire. Don’t you see Patty Label kicking off her shoes at the Presidential inauguration. I’m going to be eighty years with a walking stick and still be singing(laughs). It’s a different thing if I was a rapper. But my kind of music is timeless and that’s what counts for people like Diana Ross- she’s still on stage
Do you have lots of booking s that you’re not thinking of putting your hands into another business like fashion and others?
Yes it is but apart from that, I believe that whatever it is that I’m doing should be perfectly done first before thinking about other things. I don’t have any desire to have a fashion line but, if there’s anything I want to do it will be in the future but everything will still revolve around music. I also have an interesting educations and health and would like to setup NGOs to help the underprivileged.
What about setting up a record label for souls singers like you?
For a record label to function, it will have to be that we already have a structure which Nigeria isn’t there yet. I won’t want to sign anybody and then mess up their future
Aren’t you, Bez and Cobhams looking at doing a soul music concert?
You are right and we could. It’s a good idea and I could call Cobhams to talk about that. I’m sure we all think about things like that but too busy to follow through. The last gif that I had was with myself and Praise and corporate organizations like MTN, Absolute Vodka were there. It was one of the best audiences I ever had and everyone had fun. So, I think it’s a good idea
So, what won’t you be caught wearing?
I’m not skinny so whatever you wear should flatter your body. I would have wore something skimpy but that would be when I was 16 and size 6. But now, I an 8/10 size and I don’t judge people who dress in a certain way. Like I see J.Lo and I’m jealous because she’s over 40 and still looking hot. If I could get myself to that stage maybe, I could want to show a side of belly but it’s not a prerequisite for being classy. Being beautiful is understanding your body and package it well. I like my body and just want to be toned that’s all. But I’m not able to walk in Nigeria because the roads are bad but I walk a lot whenever I’m in Europe
Do you still like food a lot?
Oh yes. I don’t eat a lot but I enjoy eating. I don’t discriminate. Like I was in the studio yesterday and wanted to eat and my friend sent someone to buy amala for me at Bariga. So I can be like that or I can go for sea food salad. I’m just weird when it comes to food
Hope your husband doesn’t restrict you when it comes to socializing?
He’s even more social that I am. He wishes I go out more but when we are both free, I go out with him and enjoy it. He’s my party buddy.
I like the fact that your face isn’t oily. What’s your beauty routine like?
I’m blessed with good skin because I took it after my mom and grandma. But also, I’m a very simple person. I really don’t like makeup and I use simple products like Johnson lotion. But I try to wash my face before I go to bed or use baby wipes. I don’t sleep with makeup on. Even my makeup artistes know I don’t like my face being caked up. So I go days without makeup
What about going natural with your hair Like not wearing extensions?
Yes I can and I have picture where I did. But the thing is that if I know that I’m going to be having gigs and I know it’s not going to be easy to have my hair done. That’s why most of us have weaves on because it’s easy to manage. But when I’m out of Lagos I love it when I have my natural hair on and don’t have to wear makeup
You hair isn’t that long right?
I cut it when I moved to Lagos. So it’s not so long. I don’t have a hair routine and the same two people who have been doing my hair for years are still with me.
What else are you looking at aside your album?
I want to travel round Africa and immerse myself in African cultures because I have to incorporate their music tunes into mine. I’ve learnt not to over plan. I just take things one at a time.