Singer, songwriter and song producer,Â Duncan Daniels Onyemuwa plies an odd lane in his academic family. Born in Boston but raised in England, the 27-year-old dude is one of Nigeriaâ€™s fine international song producers and more recently, artiste. He plays a number ofÂ musical instruments and calls Boston home.More popular by his first two names, and his recently released 18-track album, Sho Stoppah, Duncan who doesnâ€™t have plans of relocating to Nigeria, speaks on the process that births his success today. Excerpts
I first came to Nigeria when I was about 16-years-old to work as sound engineer at Dâ€™Large records in Port Harcourt. I worked there on contract for two years before I moved back to the United States of America (USA) to study music Production Engineering at Berkeley Music College. I finished in 2008. I have a studio in Boston where I produce and record artistes for a living.
How did you seal the contract that brought you to Nigeria for the first time?
When I came to Nigeria, I got to know a lot of people in the music industry. I did a lot of mixing and mastering for a lot of record labels on contract basis. I kind of cleaned up produced songs then.
Is there a music trail in your family?
My dad had a huge collection of music but no one is a musician in my family except me. Coupled with external influences, I developed a huge love for the piano.
And your family doesnâ€™t mind you playing music?
Right now, no. At first, when I was young, they gave me a hard time. It was in my adult years when they started seeing the fruits that they developed respect for me for following through what I believe.
Do you have siblings?
Yeah, I do. I have one elder sister and three younger brothers. My familyâ€™s not an average one. My mumâ€™s a lecturer and actually a professor of Chemical Engineering. My dadâ€™s a Mechanical Engineer. My sisterâ€™s a medical doctor. My younger brother a Computer Engineer, and Iâ€™m a Sound Engineer. Everyoneâ€™s really smart.
Do you feel inferior to them in anyway?
No. You know why? Because they canâ€™t do what I do. They canâ€™t operate the machinery that I operate. Iâ€™m not just a singer. I know the art of arranging music from scratch, filtering and mixing of sounds which most producers donâ€™t even know. That differentiates me a lot. I come with the whole package and I donâ€™t have to run around looking for someone to produce me because I have all the equipment and I can do it myself.
How did growing up in an academic house help you?
It was hard but it helped me become an independent person at a young age. It also helped me to be focused and skilled at what I do.
Were there hard times?
As a young boy who could afford a computer, I had it smashed. Iâ€™ve stayed out on the streets before because I was kicked out of the house. My familyâ€™s quite wealthy,Â yet Iâ€™d been cut off from family funds before because of music. So, Iâ€™ve had those kind of years in time past.
But did you have to play music?
I want to live a satisfied life and living a satisfied life is doing what one loves doing. And whatâ€™s great about this is being able to make profit out of what you love doing. Some people are called to be doctors and they love it. So, it doesnâ€™t feel like work. Itâ€™s not about trends ; itâ€™s about being successful.
When did you have your first contact with Nigerian music and who are your early musical influences?
As a three-year-old, I was one of those MJ (Michael Jackson) kids, wearing the white stockings and gloves and trying to make some of his moves.
As I grew older,Â I began to listen to conscious music from bands like Joe Bon Jovi, U2 and the 80s classic pop rock. While I was young, I listened to Fela, Sunny Ade, Oliver Dâ€™Coque and other good music. I think thatâ€™s what helped me to be versatile as a producer. I produce gospel, Jazz, Classical, even native music like Yoruba, the Igbo High life and all that. Thatâ€™s what being a producer is about. Thatâ€™s why Iâ€™m more known by the industry professionals than artistes. Production is something I entered into when I couldnâ€™t afford producing or recording myself.