How did you come about the name, Boiz Olorun?
I have always wanted something unique, then it occurred to me that ‘big men’ in society always go around with their boys― people that run things for them. Also, in Christendom, God has his ‘boys’ that spread the gospel for Him, and I am one of them.
How many are you in the band?
We are 13.
You were a three-man band before. How did you increase to 13?
Kayode and Kolade are not with me anymore. I am the Managing Director and the Chief Executive Officer of Boiz Olorun Music.
What made the two men to leave?
I moved on from the partnership in November 2019, according to God’s instruction. It was a tough decision because I was used to my partners but I had to follow God’s direction. The ministry is large and the music aspect is just a part of it. I knew I was taking a tough decision and people may have wrong perceptions about it but my consolation was that I knew what God said to me. Thankfully, some of the other members, such as the drummers, decided to come on board with me.
How long have you been in the gospel music industry?
I have been doing gospel music since 2004. I discovered ‘gospel apala’ in 2005 but we formally became a band in 2007.
Why is it an all-boys band?
If you study the history of Apala music, you would notice that it was mostly performed by men. I am not thinking of adding a woman at all.
Why don’t you use electrically-powered instruments?
Boiz Olorun is a concept and what the band portrays is that traditional is not local. This means our customs, tradition, language, food and other things are not local. I believe that gangan and shekere are global instruments like guitar and tambourine. I just want the world to know that African instruments and songs are not local. This means that without electrically powered music instruments, I also have good music for music lovers. Packaging and delivering music is all that matters. In fact, I have been shocked that the younger generation who seem to prefer hip hop like my apala music. This has inspired me more. I am also young, so I am singing for my generation. For example, if I want to woo my father, I would sing a Sunny Ade or Ebenezer Obey song. My aim is to sing apala for my generation.
Some people have said elements of secular music are creeping into gospel music. What’s your response to that?
There is no genre of music called gospel. Most of the songs that are called worship songs are soul and ballard. The lyrics of music is what defines the dimension that music goes. Music is the language of the soul. This generation understands a particular language. If you don’t speak it, they would not hear your message. Everyone will not be inclined to the same type of music. The fundamental thing is that music is a language. Therefore, the message that music carries is more important. Some people even believe that if it is not solemn, it is not spiritual. In summary, the bread used for communion was baked in a bakery; likewise, the wine was also produced in a brewery. But it is the purpose of its usage that matters.
Is it because you sing apala music that you stick to traditional attires?
Yes, it is because we sing apala. We want to uphold our culture as Yoruba people. However, we endeavour to make our attires creative and stylish.
What were some of the challenges you faced when you started the band?
One of the challenges we encountered was acceptance. We sing in Yoruba language, so it was not so easy. I started at a time when everybody wanted to do English songs because the language is universal. But, I was also determined to force Yoruba down the throat of music lovers. I only made sure to deliver it so well that it could not be resisted. Finances were also a challenge but that is normal.
Has language stopped you from ministering at some events or some parts of Nigeria?
Language has never been a barrier for my band. I have performed at an Igbo wedding. If Nigerians can sing and dance to music by foreigners that they don’t understand the language, my music should not be a problem. I have had invitations from the northern part of the country. I have also ministered in Warri (Delta State) and Igbo-dominated churches. If the music is excellent, all tribes would listen.
How would you assess the quality of gospel songs in Nigeria?
Nigerian gospel artistes have content. In fact, what makes people like gospel songs is because of the content. Everyone wants mercy and will gladly sing about it. In the area of music production, we are evolving.
People say that some gospel artistes are too expensive. What’s your reaction to that?
The question is, do these gospel artistes have value? Let’s remove spirituality. When some gospel artistes put in a lot of work in their music, shouldn’t that make them valuable? Some gospel artistes are very valuable because they have worked for decades and have been consistent. For example, singers like Mike Abdul and Tope Alabi have done a lot of work over the years and they should reap the fruits of their labours. If they have been delivering good music for so many years, it is only right that they live well too.
Is it true that there is a caucus in the gospel industry?
The caucus that people talk about does not exist. When events bring you in contact with some gospel artistes of a supposed caucus, you would discover that nothing like that exists. You just didn’t have things that would bring you together over the years. Using myself as an example, if I have a concert, the first set of people that I would reach out to are the people that I am close to in the industry. It is easier for me to invite gospel minsters that I am close to than people I don’t know.
Some people have said there’s no reward system in terms of awards in the gospel industry. Do you agree?
There is a reward system. It is just not as popular as what obtains in the secular industry. We don’t have sponsors. A lot of corporate organisations don’t identify with gospel entertainment. I think some of these companies don’t want to bring religion into what they do. Sponsorship is one of the major challenges that organisers of these awards face. However, this has made some gospel artistes to develop their branding so as to be at par with their colleagues in the secular world. Meanwhile, a few organisations have begun to use gospel artistes as brand ambassadors in recent times.
Some young people think that gospel industry is not lucrative?
Gospel artistes are also doing well; we just try to do things in moderation. I am always very careful when I want to make social media posts about my personal successes and achievements. What we celebrate could be misinterpreted. It could either lead some astray or encourage some people’s faith. Sometimes, when I want to post things on social media, I look for a stylish way to communicate it without making a noise about it.
Some people say it takes a long time to become successful as a gospel artiste, compared to what obtains in the secular industry. What are your thoughts about that?
The truth is that the ‘world’ loves its own and gospel artistes do not operate with the same principles as other music artistes. A gospel artiste cannot post the kind of videos that a secular artiste would post online. Sexually expletive videos would definitely pull traffic to a circular artiste but gospel artistes cannot do that. So, it appears that secular artistes have a wider audience than gospel artistes. Gospel entertainment and secular entertainment are very different. The rules are not the same in both worlds.
Why do you think some artistes who started in church are no longer gospel artistes?
I think it is because of the support system. Those artistes tilt to where they get better support for their talent. It is only in recent times that some churches are now recognising talents. In the secular world, people are ready to invest in artistes and make them big. We now need the church and some individuals to do likewise, and not just support verbally.
Does being a gospel artiste mean you don’t attend secular shows?
That is not the case for me. Sometimes, I attend some music concerts that are not gospel oriented. I have friends who are secular entertainers and I support them. If I like what you do, I would support you. I have performed alongside 9ice and some other artistes before. As a matter of fact, Lagbaja is my music mentor.
How do you get inspiration for your songs?
Most times, I get inspiration when I am meditating or when I am listening to a preacher’s message. I also get inspiration from the streets.
Do you earn enough from music to afford you a comfortable life?
I am into gospel music full-time but most of the members of my band have other things they do. I won’t say I earn so much but God has a way of taking good care of me. I have a good number of supporters that are always there for me.
What are your hobbies?
I love playing video games.