‘I am mostly inspired by social issues plaguing my country’

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I leave my audience with a sense of peace, says Oloyede

By Samuel Osaze

Michael Oloyede certainly knows his onions and is confident about the after-effect of his music on his audience. It is the same impact he sets out to make with his latest album. With a demeanor that hardly gives his deep musical gifts away, Oloyede has continued to show what the future has in store for his musical gifts and aspirations. In August this year, the multi-instrumentalist and fast-rising Afrobeat star released a single entitled Gbamiloju, which has considerably gained public acclaim. Meaning ‘defraud me’, Gbamiloju is timely at this period of intense electioneering campaigns. As if the omen of an unpleasant past hovers in the air like a miasma, there is anxiety that past mistakes could be repeated. In this interview, the ‘Ma Bragado Mi’ crooner believes he has carved a niche for himself in the Lagos music scene with his blend of Afrobeat and funk/pop, built on highly rhythmic Yoruba sounds. Some of his earlier songs are instrumentals with improvisations and sparse vocals. Oloyede, along with his band Native Brains, headlined two sold-out shows at the Alliance Francais/Mike Adenuga Center, Lagos, Nigeria. He has performed as a side-man and worked with local and international acts such as Cobhams Asuquo, Kaline, ASA, Ayetoro, Lagbaja, Marcus Miller, Pilani Bubu, SOMI, Omar, and Hamish Stewart

Michael Oloyede (aka Ma Bragado Mi)

As a musician, what genre are you focused on and why the choice?
name is Michael Oloyede, a drummer, producer, educator and singer. I have been doing music as a session man for at least 15 years now. Session man, meaning playing the drums on other people’s recording and performance projects locally and abroad. I have been privileged to work on a one-time or long term basis with artists such as Lagbaja, SOMI, Asa, Marcus Miller, Cobhams Asuquo, Bob Fitts, David Baroni, Kaline, Perpie, Tosin, and many others.

I have spent the greater part of my music career as a session musician, and as such played varying genres of music like jazz, funk, Christian contemporary music, juju, pop, highlife and many more. While I still work as a session musician, I am currently focusing on contemporary Nigerian music. Having explored and played western styles of music, I felt the need to look inward to our local music, explore works of the likes of King Sunny Ade, Fela, Lagbaja and continue from where they left off, adding my own twist and sound to it.

What motivates you to sing? And how much really does playing drum complement your career as a musician?
I believe there are emotions and messages that I want to communicate that are impractical to express on the drums, hence the reason I picked up the vocal microphone. I also got support and encouragement from some of my friends who advised me to take that step.

I have been a drummer for most part of my life and it still takes topmost priority as my first choice of instrument. Being a drummer influences the rhythmic character and interaction within the rhythm section (i.e drums, bass, keyboards, guitar, conga and shekere) of my music.

What impact do you set out to make on your audience? Are you a conscious artist or you simply sing to excite and inspire?
I want to leave my audience with a sense of peace and happiness each time they listen to my music on record or whenever they watch me perform live. While talking about issues that affect our lives, I intend to inspire and awaken the minds of my listeners to the very essence of our existence which is love. As a drummer and singer, I am mostly inspired by social issues plaguing my country and I do hope to inspire change through music.

My latest song, for instance, is quite clear on this. Taken from my maiden album due to be released in November 2022, Gbamiloju is a Yoruba word which means ‘defraud me.’ It’s about the awakening of minds of the Nigeria populace to the deceit of the ruling elite. As the 2023 elections draw near, I feel it’s important to sensitize the electorate, to enlighten them on the need to make informed decision on who should be their next set of leaders. This is a social cause.

What level of musical success did you attain in your past projects?
I have had so many projects in the past, but the most recent are two headline shows I did with my band Native Brains at the Alliance Francaise, Mike Adenuga Center, Ikoyi, Lagos on January 23, 2020 and November 6, 2020. They were magical! I am currently working on my maiden album of nine songs as a drummer/singer artist. My last three single releases represent the sound of the kind of Afrocentric music I do especially the recently released song Gbamiloju. These songs are quite different, as I am doing lots of singing, and they are less jazzy and instrumental based.

Do you think you’re eliciting enough appreciation and support from your audience or you reckon it could be better?
With what we have done so far with my team, I think our fans love what we bring to the music scene and it’s just a matter of time for more people to join our cause and appreciate even more what we do. We just need to get the songs out to the ears of the millions of music lovers. Thank you!

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