The last time I did an interview I was sitting on a long bar stool in a brothel half praying my drink doesn’t get spiked. Scantily dressed ladies would pass close to me and rub my shoulder or whisper unmentionables into my ear but I got the job done. I’m back again, not in a brothel but with a brother from way back.
This was one of the guys that at a very young age encouraged me to follow my dreams regardless of where they took me. We were those guys that mounted our bikes on Monday evening with total disregard to homework and we’d scour the roads with bottles stuck to our back tires giving off a Subaru-type sound. Mind you this was way before a certain blogger decided that Subaru’s were obnoxious and immature.
Over time we drifted and we all took different paths. But with life you never really know and recently our paths crossed. We did a bit of catching up and what would you know, we are all out here chasing our dreams. So gang, meet Brian Ogonji AKA Ogonji CEO – a music producer who thinks if music had taste heavy metal would be the most disgusting.
TR: First things first. Who is Ogonji CEO?
BO: Hahaha I’d say Ogonji CEO is a dreamer or an outlier. The name came about back in high school I always kept telling my friends that whatever happened after high school I’d have to be the CEO of my own company
TR: When did you first stumble on production? Describe it as you would your first love.
BO: Hahaha I didn’t see that twist coming. I came across music production in high school (back in 2012 I believe). During my ICT class we were instructed to look for different music production software and make something. I knew a couple of older students in school who were really into that stuff so I borrowed the software and they showed me the basics. The idea of creating unique content from scratch is what really drew me to it and after making my first beat and seeing my friend’s reactions, I knew I could make something of it if I wanted to.
TR: What is good music to you?
BO: That’s rather subjective but for me good music has to evoke some sort of emotion. If you hear a song or a beat and it makes you feel “some typa way” then it’s achieved something whether it made u excited, sad or reminded you of something.
TR: Humor me if you could taste music what do you think it would taste like?
BO: Haha I think that would depend on the type of music you’re listening to, all I know is that deep metal would taste kinda bad
TR: Before you sit down and decide you’re going to make a beat. What goes through your mind? Do you have a specific sound you look for or do you let the music find you?
BO: Sometimes I set time aside to just sit and produce and so I have to look for inspiration but in most cases it’s unplanned for. I might be walking outside or in a lecture and an idea or a melody just pops up and I have to find a way to remember the melody so that I can make the beat when I get home. In some cases an artist comes to me and tells me what type of beat they want or the lyrics they have and I make the beat around that idea.
TR: Ever heard music so good you could smell it? I ask weird questions I expect weird answers.
BO: Hahaha no, unfortunately I haven’t experienced that yet. Maybe someday
TR: Relevance is a major thing in the music industry as is with all industries. Would you say you try to stay relevant?
BO: I wouldn’t say I try to stay relevant. I just to be as versatile as any producer should be so that if a client comes to me and says they want a trap song then I can make it for them and if they want an African type of song then I can make that too. Versatility is the key to staying relevant in my field.
TR: Your biggest inspirations forget them. Tell me who you listen to and hate so much you never want to sound like them not even if they were the last sound on earth?
BO: I’ve listened to a couple of young thug features and the hooks he does are really catchy but irritating at the same time, his mix tape was also the worst have heard this year so far.
TR: For the money or the fame? Please don’t say love.
BO: For the power. Money can get u a lot of things and so can fame, but power opens new doors.
TR: If you woke up as a computer program the first thing you’d do?
BO: If I woke up as a computer program then I’d most probably be a music production software or spyware. The first thing I would do is make myself an open platform so that people everywhere can easily access my features and improve on them
TR: Ever made a beat for a girl you liked? Did it work?
BO: I haven’t made a beat for a girl I like yet (that would be huge) but I once made a beat inspired by a girl I was dating, she liked it (I hope)
TR: Wait. Does that mean you dated a girl you didn’t like?
BO: Haha of course I liked her, the beat just wasn’t for her but she inspired its making. (good save bro)
TR: Weirdest thing you’ve ever done outside of music?
BO: Peeing in the dark, it just never ends well…
TR: You love making music that’s good. But let’s get real. Should one day come and this talent never took you anywhere you were just that guy with a laptop doing what he loves would you be okay?
BO: Yeah I would be okay with it, because currently I’m still that guy with a laptop doing what he loves but I’m working on so many other projects unrelated to music or entertainment. Like I said, versatility is key.
TR: Define success in your words?
BO: If you are able to use your time here on earth to inspire someone or even help them progress in the slightest way then you have succeeded.
TR: I’ve listened to your beats (of course) some of them sound poetic. I can almost hear a story in them sometimes sad sometimes inspirational. I guess this goes back to an earlier question what really goes through your mind? Is this intentional?
BO: I guess you could say that my music allows me to express certain emotions that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to express in public. Some people eat some people run to release certain emotions, when I’m in the studio I just make what i’m feeling at the time. So it’s both intentional and unintentional.
TR: In five years where do you see yourself? Now make it ten? Now picture you’re dead what do you think would you want to happen to your work?
BO: In five years I see myself signing international artists to my music label and providing other young producers and artists with the skills they need to succeed because here in Africa the people at the top in the entertainment industry are rather self-centered and it’s a shame because so much content could be getting released.
In ten years I want to be retired but acting now as more of an adviser in different sectors of the entertainment industry and maybe even policy developments and travelling the world.
I just hope that by the time I die I have inspired another producer somewhere to perfect their craft like the people who inspire me.
TR: Seeing as most sounds are generated by a computer some people don’t consider production as art. They believe you actually have to play an instrument to qualify. I don’t share the same sentiments but what’s your take?
BO: I also don’t share the same sentiments either. I don’t think that playing an instrument should play a key factor in whether you are considered a producer because even when I started out I couldn’t play anything. I do agree however that playing an instrument gives you an edge in the industry. I have a lot of friends who can play multiple instruments but cannot make a beat or compose a piece to save their life, so everyone is different. Should producers learn how to play instruments? Absolutely, but even if you can’t it doesn’t matter. As long as you have an idea for a beat and can translate that through the software then that’s fine by me.
TR: Parting shot?
BO: I guess I’d just like to tell anyone reading this that, you don’t have to conform to societies’ expectations of you, do what you love and surround yourself with people that share a similar vision and help you to grow – and whatever it is that you love to do, do it well, because chances are there’s someone out there who has the exact same goal as you.
TR: Lastly I’m a self-proclaimed beer and whiskey lover so this is the most important question for this interview. Beer or whiskey?
BO: Hahaha I don’t drink unfortunately, but the rounds are on me.
A few questions later, a drink offer on the table and you have some insight on one guy that’s looking to change the music industry one beat at a time. He’s done something that has been the preserve of hip hop artistes for a while – he dropped a beat tape (two actually) – you can find them on sound cloud.
Tell me what you think, what the music made you feel, see, taste, touch and smell.