She was one of the contestants on Star Quest in 2006, one of Nigeria’s most prestigious and competitive music talent hunt shows and in 2008, she was a part of Divas Unplugged, a reality music show that took place in Jos. With a brand new video, ‘Iwo Nikan’, the talented musician who is signed on to Baseline entertainment, is stopping at nothing to reach the top. Aramide Sarumoh talks about her musical journey so far and other related issues in this chat.
So far, you’ve come up with beautiful songs that have been enjoying some level of air-play. Would you say music has been rewarding for you?
Yes, to an extent, it has. Some days are good, rewarding and some days are not so good. I consider those days very dry seasons. There are times that it is the season for celebrations, for a lot gigs. There are other times that it is the season for releasing music or for doing something different. It is seasonal. Sometimes, when it doesn’t pay, you get something extra in return, like maybe publicity and all that, if you’re not getting paid. Everything always adds up. Nothing is entirely a waste.
When did you start doing music professionally?
I’ll say about four years ago. That’s when I moved down to Lagos. Before then, I was doing music in school, writing songs and all that. I learnt how to play the bass guitar along the line, learnt how to play the saxophone as well. And then, moving down to Lagos, I started performing at Open Mic centers like Taruwa, Freedom Hall, Freedom Park, places that accepted me for my kind of music.
How has your musical experience been like?
For me, it’s been bitter-sweet. I’ve been through a lot;different management and record labels and all that. So, I’ll say it’s been challenging, it’s been great at the same time. It’s been a learning experience for me.
What was your parents’ reaction when they learnt you wanted to do music?
Initially, my parents thought it was a hobby because I was always singing, disturbing people in the house. I was always writing. Besides music, I was also writing poems and all that. But when I decided to take it as a career, they supported me, especially when they saw the way I was going about it. I was really passionate about it, to the point where I had to relocate from the North down to the West.
What was growing up like for you?
Growing up for me was a lot of fun. I grew up in Jos, Plateau State, with my parents and my two brothers. I’m the only girl and I had a lot of love around me, a lot of attention and care. And from a very young age, I picked up music because I grew up in a house where my dad was a music freak. He used to listen to a lot of good music. And I think that is where I picked it up from. I spent my entire life in Jos where I had my primary, secondary and University, in Jos. I am a graduate of political science.
You say your write your songs. What inspires your lyrics?
Song writing comes to me naturally. And it’s something that I’ve grown to really appreciate as a person because I can express myself through music. But what actually inspires my writing are the stories that happen around me, my environment, life, my life, the life of people close to me. Different things inspire my music.
As an artiste, what would you consider to be your greatest asset?
I would say my voice. For me, my voice doesn’t sound like any other person’s voice, it’s different. And that’s a good thing for me. And also, the fact that I can play an instrument as a female artiste is also an asset to me.
You play the guitar and the saxophone, why did you choose to learn to play the saxophone?
Growing up, I’ve always been a huge fan of jazz music. My dad too was a huge fan of jazz music. So, I think the fact that I used to hear a lot of pure jazz music made me want to play an instrument that sounded like the things that I hear. And I think the saxophone has soul in it.
Do you think your music is getting the kind of acceptance it deserves in the country?
My music is called afro-soul and it is growing. The fan base is growing. Most times, you don’t even know you like a particular kind of music until you listen to it. I would say it is growing and it is being accepted here. There is however hope for improvement.
Who are your role-models in the industry?
In terms of sound and artists that my music is similar to, I would say Corinne Bailey Rae, Lauryn Hill, India Arie. I’m also a huge fan of John Legend, Ray Charles because I listen to a lot of old music, a lot of piano-based jazz and soulful music. And then in the Nigerian music industry, my role models are Asa, Bez, Waje and Tuface.
What project are you currently working on?
I just dropped a single titled Iwo Nikan with the video as well, so, it’s still very fresh. The plan now is to drop another single because the album is supposed to drop this year. So, hopefully, I’ll drop another single by May and a video for it as well before the full album is released.