She is one of the most eclectic personalities you will come across in the Nigerian Entertainment industry, and is certainly on the list of the most hardworking and industrious. From the formidable ministry altars to influential mainstream platforms, she remains an exceptional all-rounder. Few people have been able to match her consistency and versatile propensities.
Pls enjoy my interview with Nikki Laoye.
- How did music start for you?
It runs in my family, first of all. I come from the Royal Laoye Ajeniju family from Ede, Osun state, from a lineage of the Itimi of Ede, Oba Adetoyese Laoye who was well renowned for popularizing the talking drums in Nigeria.
Music has always been in our blood, from my grandparents, my parents, my uncles to my siblings. Thanks to my dad who kept on inspiring us with his music collection. As a kid, I used to listen to all kinds of songs, Rock, Hip Hop, RnB. He used to play the guitar, the talking drum; he used to sing and he could pitch like a soprano! So of course, having that constant inspiration actually fuelled my musical part.
Growing up, I had the opportunity of attending the best schools when it comes to music; they were the right kinds of schools because they were musically inclined one way or another.
I attended Grace Children’s school where my music teacher took a liking to me and would make me stay after school to play the piano, that’s where I first learnt. My dad bought me my first keyboard at the age of 10. In my little way, I was able to start writing songs on my own.
And for my secondary school, Federal Government Girls College Shagamu. That was also a musically inclined school, everybody used to sing and dance. I joined the Hausa group where I learnt to play one of their instruments
In the university, I joined the dance group Exousia and formed a musical group, the Soul Sistas with my friends. So, one way or another, I’ve been doing music all my life.
We had always been told ,in my family, that we have this in-born gift and we can play any instrument just by picking it up. I’m looking forward to learning to play the talking drum.
Professionally, I’ve been doing music for 10 years now. My first single I never felt this way before was released in 2006, produced by Cobhams. My first album Angel for Life was filled with various genres and sounds in 2008. My second album The 123 Project came out in 2015.
- You are a lot of things, You are a singer, songwriter a dancer, an actor, a philanthropist, blogger, radio host, Graphics Designer, Humanitarian, Media Consultant etc. Pls tell us about that.
I love to make things happen and any area I find that I have an interest in, I like to build on it. I studied Computer Science, so that explains the Blogging and Graphics designing. I even do a bit of photography actually. I have even started editing videos in my own little way. I sit and work with the video editors for all my videos.
On being a radio host, I have always loved to talk. I also love to help present things better, I feel like a lot of people don’t do it well. For instance, I remember when I was on the NYSC camp in Jigawa. I was the one that started creating shows like “Ladies Night” on the Camp station, and corpers would sit up at night listening and many would comment that I had turned the facility into a radio station. I love to make things happen everywhere I go, so when I see I have a gift in this area, I explore and sometimes, have clicked.
Sometimes, I see something was not done properly, I want to help out, that’s who I dabble into these things.
As a media consultant, I manage Wahalaa Media Entertainment, my Boss and senior cousin Tunde Laoye started the company as an umbrella company over me, he’s my financier, my Executive Producer. He’s a welled known Barrister.
- How do you find time to do all these things?
Sincerely, it does get overwhelming, but I learnt to pace myself. The things I can do, I do, other things, I leave them till I can.
- How exactly did you know you wanted to be an singer? When did the epiphany come?
Like I said, I’ve always loved to sing. The point at which I knew it was very important, was while I was in secondary school. I was always the first person to earn the latest songs, I would sit by the radio and write out the lyrics and go to my class and announce the new song to my classmates. I would stand in front of my class and sing. I noticed something, that for every time I stood in front of the class to sing, my classmates would first, shout ‘Nikki go and sit down” but I wouldn’t stop and eventually noticed that after a bit, the class would get quiet. I noticed I had the gift to make people stop and listen. It was from those moments I knew there was something special and that this was a gift that God had given me, to go out there and talk about something. I used to ask myself, I f I was given three minutes, what would I sing in that time? I said Lord, I want to be your voice, from heaven’s gates to the hearts of men’.
That was what I’ve wanted to do with my music and when the opportunity came to go into it full blast, I was so happy and God sent my cousin to me. The funny thing was that we never used to talk. He just came to me and told me h notied my gifts and would love to finance me. God will always send you the right person when you are ready.
- What do you enjoy most about what you do?
What I enjoy the most is the impact on people’s lives, because, at the end of the day, I don’t just want to do stuff because I want to be famous. I’ve always believed that we are God’s hands here at earth. God, Himself, can’t be here physically but each of us are His representatives.
In everything we do, we should show God’s love and joy, whatever aspect of God we want to show, such should come out of our careers and jobs. And that is what drives me, I want to touch someone, encourage, inspire, educate, enlighten and lift someone up from the place of depression. Most importantly, I just want to be God’s hands ,right here on earth.
- The gospel Music has come a long way, what do you think is responsible for that?
I think its because we have a unique sound. And the truth is, the western world is always looking for the next available sound. Like watched a video in which Beyonce found some guys in South Africa due to their unique choreography. She brought them on her “Who run the world” song It means these world renowned artiste are looking for the next big and new sounds, something different. And that is something we have in Nigeria, even the rest of Africa is looking to us.
It’s because we are very creative here and we know how to twist music. Even in the inspirational music scene, for example Trap music started to trend on this scene due to a track titled “Oyel” produced by OkeySokay.
- You have expanded your horizon beyond the Gospel, how and when did you make that decision?
It’s not a decision I made today. This is who Nikki Laoye has been since Day one. If you notice my first single “Never felt this way before’ was unique and people were asking is it a gospel song or not?
I always try to leave my songs open because when you’re talking to a loved one, you don’t necessarily have to call his name. I just want to make songs people can relate to. When that song was first released, people used it as their wedding songs.
God always gives a triangular form of music when it comes to the issue of love, in the sense that God loves me and helps me to love the other person and we both love God.
With my music, I talk about 3 major things – God, Love and life. And its important for me to create an alternative, especially because, right now, there’s a lot of music going around but its not all kinds of music that have good morals and values which today’s kids to learn. It got to a point when I got sick and tired of complaining we don’t have enough party, groovy songs with good lyrics. I decided to create those songs. They may not be praise and worship songs but you can play them at your birthday parties and weddings. You know who Iam and my values and the song should reflect that. So I’m a minister, and I’m also an entertainer.
I believe that God Himself is an all-rounder. I’m a Christian, I love to have fun, so I create music, even I can enjoy and play on at those times I’m not praising or worshipping.
There are different types of music – Temple music for the house of God, Outreach music that is inspiring (Like Great Nation by Timi Dakola) and Everyday music like love songs (like my song, Onyeruoma and The Vow by Timi Dakolo). Truth is, Christians are normal human beings who go about their day-to-day lives so there must be music that fills each area. It’s something a lot of people don’t understand yet but gospel doesnt have to be praise and worship alone.
- But did you get a backlash for it?
Of course! But I try my best to keep explaining but people don’t just want to be realistic. One day, they will want to get married and I’m sure they wont play a Don Moen track. Instead of complaining, they can play my Onyewuoma or dance to 1.2. 3 or African Dance and at the end of the day, you know the song is covered by the blood of Jesus, lol!
- What have you failed at?
I wont say there’s anything I have failed at, because, I’m always constantly working on getting better. Truth is , I never arrived, either as a singer, songwriter etc. I’m working everyday.
I never stopped learning for example, I’m working on a song with Rotimikeys because I had struggled to with it for a while, I had to reach out to him. Even when I was working on the song Onyewuoma, it got to a point, I had to get Banky W to finish the song-bridge to the end. I don’t give anything up, the best I can do is, keep it aside and pick it up again.
At the end of the day, I just want to be the best of myself as much as I can, so I’m always working.
- What do you or struggle with on your job?
If there’s anything, it would be the management of time. Sometimes, I can be very scattered with my time. I, sometimes, change my sleep patterns due to this. Sometimes, I may get carried away with something for several hours and other things don’t done. So the management of time and my concentration are things I struggle with.
Angel 4 Life is a registered Incorporated Trustees Charity Organisation, focusing on the development and empowerment of the visually impaired, physically challenged youths and people of National concern (Internally Displaced Persons and Refugees).It’s all about building an inclusive society for people living with disabilities especially, by providing opportunities for their social development, education and integration into the society. It takes a lot more for them to survive and interact in an African environment, which is still lacking facilities and structures for their daily survival.
I make sure I keep learning and I make sure I have friends around me who constantly push me. I ask them to help me, to remind me of things and put me on my toes.
Sometimes, I focus on my Foundation that I forget my music so I make sure I have friends to remind me.
I also make sure I push myself to be fit and do my exercises and generally live healthy. Basically, I push myself to be more disciplined.
13. What advice do you have for people who want to follow your footsteps in one way or another?
One things I always say is don’t just do things for the fun of it, do them because you want to be a blessing. We are God’s hands here on earth, you are the answer to someone’s prayer.Many times, someone else has been the answer to my prayer, that’s how God has made the world to work. We are all actually connected. Whatever you do, be a blessing to someone, it goes a long way. You don’t have to have all the money in the world. That’s why we are placed here on earth.
It will take time, discipline and you losing sleep sometimes. It will take you having to block your ears sometimes to what people have to say because not everyone will understand what you are doing and why you are doing it. But, at the end of the day, results don’t lie. When they see the results, they’ll say “Oh, no wonder!”.
I’ve had many people, fight me asking why I’m doing songs with Banky W and Seyi Shay but at the end of the day when I hear Onyewuoma being used by people across the world, that’s my joy because I want the joy of love under God to go far and wide.
“Only you” was a song that God gave me when I was down and out, through my friend. I saw what that song did as a ballad, so I thought, I thought of a Reggae Remix, there was something very powerful about that song and didn’t want it to fade away, I wanted it to last in different dimensions.
I had friends fight me, saying I tainted the song by bringing Seyi Shay on board, but because of that song, people who didn’t even know me, latched unto the song because of Seyi and evetually testified the song blessed them.
14.How do you relax?
I listen to music especially when I’m driving. I also love watching movies and of most of all, I love hanging out with my friends. Finally, I love to sleep. I love being on my computer, researching and learning new things online, that’s another way I relax.
15. Tell us a fun fact about you, something most people don’t know.
I love to play video games. I used to beat all the boys at the game centre when I was much younger because my brothers had trained me well!Today, I still find time to play.
Interview conducted by Ayodotun Rotimi-Akinfenwa