By ANOZIE EGOLE
Sitting relaxed in a well equipped salon somewhere in Lekki area of Lagos, her stylist carefully adorns her head with the Brazilian human hair in preparation for her album launch. As our reporter approached her, Waje, as she is popularly called, said in a very comic way , “welcome my brother. As you can see, I have been very busy, e no easy to launch an album”. If you’ve never been close to her, hardly would you know how jovial and friendly she could be.
Aituaje Iruobe, a.k.a, Waje, in this exclusive interview with SHOWTIME CELEBRITY, talks about her music career, journey to fame, and taking us personnal in the end.
What are we expecting tomorrow (last Wednesday)?
Well, you should be expecting the release of the album, that’s all. It has been a long time project. A lot of my fans have been asking to know when the album will drop, and I’d promised to give them unlimited dose of my music outside of the singles I have done in the past.
How many singles have you dropped so far?
If we start from my solo, it would be about six singles. They included “Not the Way, I Wish, Orumeni, solo” among others. But my album is not a compilation of all these singles anyway.
How long did it take you to put the album together?
Well, it took a while. It is not a matter of months. We have been working on this project for the past three years.
What were some of the challenges you faced while working on the album?
For me, my career is not necessarily based on how many albums I have dropped or not. Dropping an album is not my goal. It’s just about using the right materials, shooting the right video and so many other things . What I feel is very challenging to me has nothing to do with the album. It is towards my career as a whole.
Not just thinking about coming out with a new album, it is all about rebranding myself. I perform with a live band and I have a 10-man band. So, I am thinking about making sure that my band and my brand are consistent.
Another major challenge I have is working with different people and trying to fix their time to accommodate my own time. Working with people like producers, director, executive producers and lots of people has also been so challenging.
How long has the 10-man band been in existence?
We have been together for about a year and half now.
To your album, what is the title of your new album?
Simple, it is self titled “Words aren’t just enough”, “Waje”
Why did you choose that as the title?
It is my world. All I’ve done is try to tell people what has happened in my life, the challenges I’ve faced, my high and low times. So, in other to make it interesting, I just added some melody to those stories. That’s where I got the acronym, Waje from ,which means, “Words aren’t just enough”. And I think for my first album, it would be great to have it as the title.
The album talks about love, fun, caution, some level of things. And you know, there are different aspects of it, heartbreak, all these are the things that I go through in my head. It is either my experience or other people’s experience. Just that the album is a way of welcoming you to my own school of thought and how I do my own things.
Even before the album launch, your name has been a household name. What is the secret?
I am still not satisfied. What I would say is that, it is all by the special grace of God. There are limits to what we can do and God takes control of other things. I was not one of those people that knew what to do before coming into the industry. When I joined the industry, I didn’t know anything about publicity, manager and other things. The only thing I knew was how to sing.
I didn’t even know that people have agents that book them for shows. For me, it is while sojourning in the industry that I learnt many things. I think that was what has helped the brand to grow, knowing fully well that I want to do this and I am willing to overcome all the boundaries. Also, I have a higher goal for myself.
You said you have not reached the turning point. What are the strategies you ‘ve put in place to get to the peak of your career?
Those strategies, I can’t disclose to you because it is my thing. If I tell you my strategy, it would be like someone revealing her secrets to another person. So, that is my own secret.
Which of your tracks do you think brought you into limelight?
I think the one that really projected me very well was “So Inspired” which featured Mona. This is because, after that song, I was nominated for Channel O award. I think that was the song that brought me into limelight and it is known across Africa.
I won a couple of international awards that year because of the song. I won Defa award in UK. But to me, if you ask me, I would say that everything has just been a gradual process. Each track I drop opens a different door for me. As So Inspired won me an award, so also is I wish.
Did you actually pose nude in your new song, I Wish ?
I don’t think there is anything about the song. I know most people have not taken time to watch the song and they are criticizing it based on what others are saying. They cannot speak from their own angle. Well, I am an artiste and the work of an artiste is to be able to express his or herself the way the script is.
So, I have decided to express myself the way the script says I should. The song is about heartbreak and when you are singing it, you have to connect with what is in the script. There is no need singing about heart break and at the same time smiling. It’s acting. It’s like when you want to make a painting, you must make it look real.
One of the reasons why Monalisa’s painting has been one of the most celebrated paintings in the world is that, one side of her face was smiling while the other side was not. She was almost sad and at the same time, you could see the emotion on her face. That is what being an artiste is all about. It is about being able to express yourself and not lying about your feelings.
Aside music and acting which you recently started, what else do you do?
Tunnel was the first big movie I featured in. I have been on the set of “Heaven’s Help” which is a new movie we are shooting at the moment. You have one of the best casts you can think of. It was directed by ex-BBA winner, Katung. I also run a private school with my mother. These are some of the things I do when I’m not in the studio.
What is your driving force?
My driving force is my passion for what I do. Aside music being my passion, it is also like a hubby to me. I am also driven to make ends meet. For me, it is now a business because the Bible says that anything we lay our hands on shall prosper. I intend to prosper in it. When I say prospering, it is not only about music but also being able to encourage young people.
I want young people to know that if Waje can win a Grammy award, then, they can also do the same. I want them to know that if I can conquer Africa then, they can do the same. I know how many people that have approached me and said that they are inspired by my music. I don’t think I am worthy of all those praises but at the end of the day, it makes you feel good that you are doing something good that people want and appreciates.
Are you signed to Chocolate City?
No, I am not signed to Chocolate City. I wonder why everybody is saying that I am signed to ChocolateCity. I am signed to Waje Music Entertainment.
Are you telling us that you have a record label?
When did you unveil the label?
I have been running the label for a long time now. Artistes have been coming to me to sign them on but I keep telling them that we sign artistes on a partnership level. So, it has always been there.
You still liiok stunning without make up. What’s the secret?
The secret of my beauty is God. I am the careless type, I don’t know how to act what I am not. You can ask my hair stylist, Elijah. He has been making my hair for a very long time now. I really don’t know the secret. Sometimes, I wear bogus clothes to Shoprite. Sometimes, I wear shots and T-shirt to go and buy bolle.
That’s the kind of person I am. I feel that whatever we are doing, we should be able to defend it. I don’t want a situation where tomorrow, I would be a shadow of myself because of the way I have lived . I want a situation that people wouldn’t be surprised if they heard I walked down the street to buy something.
What is you favourite fashion item?
I am a very free person. I wear easy clothes like T- shirts and jeans, knicker, sandals, slippers. As you can see how I’m dressed to the saloon- my short with T-shirt and slippers; that’s my kind of dressing.
How do you feel being a single mother?
When people ask the question how you feel as a single mother, I don’t get it because, regardless of the circumstances, a child is a blessing from God. Whether the father is there or not, a child is a huge blessing from God. So, when people ask how I feel as a single mother, I don’t understand. Do they expect me to regret being a single mother?
Don’t you regret why you had a child out of wedlock?
I don’t regret my past. If you see my daughter, you know I have no regrets. This is the picture of my daughter(she scrolls through her phone to the point where her daughter is). Is she not worthy to be called my daughter? In fact, if you have this type of daughter, you would feel so fantastic to be a single mother.
What was your growing up like?
My growing up was fun. I am the first child and the first daughter in my family. I was a tom boy as a child. I was born with a plastic spoon, nothing like silver spoon. My parents got divorced when I was young. So, I had a few challenges just like any other growing child. I had issues of youthful exuberance and my mother working so hard to provide for her kids. These were some of the challenges I faced as a child.
Did you have music in mind while growing up?
I had in mind that I wanted to do music but I didn’t see the picture.
How did music begin for you?
I started early enough. I was singing in my church choir. I would gate crash and go to sing at shows. And whenever I heard that my school is doing something, I would go and plead with them to allow me perform. And at the end of every show, they would give me transport fare to go home. Those were the kind of things I did.
Why are you still single?
Well, I am not God. I don’t know why, but in case you know, please, let me know. I don’t think anybody knows why he/she is still single if they are really single.
Who is your kind of man?
A God fearing man is my kind of man. A man that has respect for himself. Because, if you don’t respect yourself, you can’t respect another person. I always tell people that you can’t confidently say you can fall in love if you don’t love yourself. Because if you love yourself, you would respect yourself, you would work hard to provide the things you need for yourself.
Is there any man in your life now?
No, there is nobody.
What’s your take on female artistes going for married men?
I am not a moral teacher, so, it is not my business. Everybody has their purpose for coming to life and we are entitled to our actions. God would not be judging us the same time, we will be judged separately.
Is it true that you are dating M.I?
No, I am not. We are just good friends, nothing more than that.
How do you handle your male fans?
I find it very surprising because I don’t even see the male fans. To be honest with you, I really don’t know the answer to this question. The only thing is that I know where to draw the line.
What does love mean to you?
To me, love is simply respect. I know why I am always hammering on respect. I know that this our generation, we have lost respect for ourselves.
Have you been sexually harassed before?
Not directly. I haven’t been sexually harassed before.