For Timi Dakolo, music was indeed a big deal as he was really ready to give his all, with his uniquely husky voice and huge passion for RNB. Timi shot into spotlight when he won the first ever Idols West Africa reality TV show. He won Nigerians’ hearts over the likes of Omawumi, Temitayo and Jodie. He was passionate about being steady in the music scene and withered every storm even though the spotlight then was on his fellow runner-up Omawunmi. Timi was consistent at every point in time releasing mind blowing singles. Known for his soulful song and storytelling pattern, Timi released Great Nation, Love Song and There’s A Cry. Timi Dakolo has created a niche for himself where he sits comfortably at the top. The proud Port Harcourt-born singer and father in this chat with MUTIAT ALLI speaks about his career, being a judge on The Voice platform, journey so far, why he is passionate about his family amongst others. Excerpts:
How has the experience being as one of the judges at The Voice Nigeria challenge?
It actually opened my eyes to see how much of talents that we have in Nigeria and how effectively we can actually make use of those talents and make them believe in themselves. So far it is not the end of the show, we just started and we are hoping to unravel more talents as the competition goes.
As someone who is also a product of a reality show and becoming a judge in one of such platforms, when you look back, how does that makes you feel?
Sincerely it feels good to be on the other side of the table, there is pressure but not as you being a contestant and being judged. I am pleased and very much happy about it. I call it grace because I have equally experienced what they are feeling now as contestants; the pressure, song choice and everything. A times I still preview myself as one of the contestants because when they are performing, I feel like going on stage to grab the mic. It’s been fun all the way.
What difference are you bringing on the table as one of the judges?
Like I said, everything that I have learnt as a one-time contestant on a reality show and now that I am one of the judges is what I am bringing to the table; I tell them the fair and honest truth. I equally tell them not come out to people like they know it all. I try as much as possible to tell them not to come out to people like they know it all which is one of the dangers of talent hunt show.
Iyawo Mi was a monster hit last year, are we expecting another top notch song from Timi’s stable?
I have other songs that are still coming out. The fact is I just sing out of my mind, anything that happens after that is the response you feed from people.
A lot of people are of the opinion that your wife is your muse, how through is that?
You cannot give what you don’t have; the fact is you can’t be quarrelling with your wife and come out with good songs. For me something must inspire you before your pass your message across. I respect her so much and as well as my kids.
So will it be right to say that she is your source of inspiration?
Definitely she is my bedrock and number one source of inspiration, she is like still water.
You talked so much about your wife, are your kids left out?
They have their place too but my wife will surely come first.
When you first sang that song ‘Iyabo Mi’ to you wife before you finally put it out, what was her thought about it?
I sang it on my wedding actually because I have had that song for about four years or thereabout. I don’t release song because everybody is releasing song. I have this thing that I call perfect timing, so when that approaches, I know what to do at that period of time. It’s another ball game to have a song and it entirely something else to know when the appropriate release date should be.
What inspired that song, ’Wish me well’ where you told your father you’re leaving home?
I felt I wanted to tell a story. At some point I looked at my life and said I have come a mighty long way, like I have come from when I was struggling to even get transport from Port Harcourt to come to Lagos. I looked at people and I was being asked what is your plan, what are you doing, what is your passion? So I had to put all those things together in the song and say that somebody that is sitting down will probably be a successful banker but are you fulfilled inside? I don’t think success is money because that is my own school of thought; so I believe success is what gives you contentment.
In all fairness, did you really park your bags?
Yes I did and for that reason, I left Port Harcourt for good and for me I think there is something that life holds for me. It’s more than this place that I am now, it may not necessarily be a location or another kind of job entirely.
You have stayed married for some years now, how have you made that happen?
Sincerely, love is not enough because the most important thing that comes first is trust; I am not under any pressure. I love my wife and kids and we understand each other better.
What do you think of these days when married couples especially celebrities brings their relationship to social media?
I think that happens because they put themselves under lots of pressures. For me, I see this life as very simple. Take for instance, I and wife used to talk and I ask her funny questions like ‘Babe who is checking you up these days’, you know you are beautiful’. Relationship is not that serious like people portray them, we are human beings. You say it as it is, you will be friends. Also one thing I have equally realised about relationship also is first be friends and every other thing we set in. Sometimes I take break from my children but when I realise the gap is getting too much, I bridge it. The fair thing in relationship is to try as much as possible to create a balance.
Will you bring your family issues to social media?
No, but do you think there is any family that does not fight? At times I have argument with wife but what we both have done is that we will never argue in the presence of our children because it’s a standard rule in the house. Even if we do, are they judging because my principle stands that marriage is for two, three is a crowd. I will never for whatever reason bring my family matter to social media, the least I can do is to celebrate them on special moments.
Have you seen the possibility of any of your kids taking music as a career?
My children sings but my first daughter shows more concern. I am that kind of father that will say professional job all the way for his kids. If any of my kids want to toe my line, I will surely push them beyond mine.
Back to your singing prowess, there is this thing about you when you sing, you sing all out?
For me, I think music is more than sound and melody, it connect and is just like when something hits your soul. It’s like a collation course where two things are joining together. My intention in this life is not just to make music but to touch the hearts of people. I mean what I say and for that reason, I say what I mean.
You are one of the few Nigerian artistes that do good music; don’t you feel pressured to put out a commercial single any time soon?
I have been here a very long time and I am not going anywhere anytime soon; I am a very stubborn person in the sense that if I believe strongly in a thing, I go for it. My grandmother will say to us that if you have a dream or passion and people ordinarily do not believe in but as long as you so believe in yourself, all will fall out good. For me, human beings cannot be impressed, so you trying to impress them is like lowering your standard.
There is rant on twitter by supposed fans who say that since there is a new administration in power, market has spoilt for Timi Dakolo, what is your take on that?
My brother, they have no idea but trust me I could remember when I was scouting with somebody back in days, I usually ask the person if I won’t be paying house rent for sleeping. The fact is there is no weekend that I will not be planning to do one wedding or an event. It’s not man because these things that we have it is not by our power but by his grace.
Did you see such comments?
I won’t deny fact, I saw it but I laughed because I have had people say a lot to me in this country, like with all this my English speaking music that one day hunger will kill me.
Doing your genre of music, how profitable is it for you?
Trust me, I am doing very well because I am actually on my own lane, I am not struggling to be like anyone neither I am I competing with anybody.
How affordable/expensive is Timi Dakolo?
Well, I am trying ooo for a growing kid like me. At least I have been able to pay my bills, pay my children school fees and also travel whenever I want to.
You have maintained your voice for a very longtime, how have you been able to achieve that?
I drink lot of water, I rest my voice and also I sleep a lot. I know when to stop as our voice is like muscle. The more you exercise it, the better it gets. When the voice cracks, stop and don’t follow greed and still be doing shows and concert.
In your word, you stated that you mean what you say; will it be right to say you are trying to toe the lane of Fela Kuti who sang about burning issues?
Like I said, I say what I mean. Nn that same vein, if you have listened to my song, Cry, you will know I am passionate about my songs and lyrics, so with Cry. If you catch your subject there no problem, I don’t have to come outside and mention people’s name. But when I feel the need to sing a song that points out difficulties and issues in the society, I will because that is what I owe the society at large.
What is the craziest thing a fan has done to you?
A lot of things o, like you are lodged in a hotel where you performed and on your way back to your room, one of your fans will be like ‘let’s go to your room’ and I ask, to do what? Stay where you are and leave Satan alone.
How where you able to convince your wife to settle with you?
(Laugh), have you people forgotten that I am a Port Harcourt boy? It took time because that girl was wicked, she made me struggle.
How long was the process knowing that you guys met when you were not popular?
I told her that I have bright future and that I was going to be a very rich boy. One of the first things she asked me that made me sit up was ‘You said you love me and all that, what is your plan’ and you know when a lady asks you that, you sit up and I responded that I wanted to do great things with my musical career and she is one of the main reasons why I studied music.
Are there no moment when you doubted yourself?
Trust me when I set out to do music, I knew I needed to be focused because I have always said to myself that I cannot work in an office where I will be copying files for my boss as the case may be; I will probably use my tie and commit suicide because I am that kind of person that is hyperactive and that is the more reason why I cannot stand the pain of waiting for somebody at the office for long because my leg will start shaking. Before Nigerian Idols, music was not the thing for me because I grew up in a house where they keep saying go to school, read book and work in Shell.
If you were not doing music, what will you be doing?
My sister only God knows that.
Shortly after Nigerian Idols, the shine was on Omawunmi, how did you feel back then when you were constantly compared with her?
My sister, I know one thing in this my life; first of all, I want to understand what I was doing with music and the only thing I knew about music before now was to go to choir practice, learn my part in tenor and come on shout it on Sunday.