NOT minding her stupendously rich background, Florence Ifeoluwa Otedola, aka, DJ Cuppy, decided to pick a career in the world of music;waiting in line like everyone, picking the pieces of her life, to create a new world for herself. In this interview, the billionaire’s daughter, who has touched all facets of entertainment, from Disco Jockeying, to music, scriptwriting amongst others, talks about her journey into entertainment and her personal life.
By ANOZIE EGOLE
HOW was growing up like?
I will say that growing up was actually colourful. I used to be a very playful, naughty child that always asked questions. I am always intrigued by things. There was a time I turned my living room into a studio. I was always very playful. I grew up here in G.R.A, Ikeja Lagos. I had fun growing up.
Tell us about your journey into music?
My name is Ifeoluwa Otedola. I am 21 years old. I have always loved music, even as a child and I am very passionate about young people. I am greatly honoured when young people approach me to say they like what I am doing. I am also establishing my own company which is into publishing and management. I have a 10-year plan to change the face of entertainment in Nigeria.
What is your album all about?
I have many tracks in the album. There is one I titled, “I love my people”. That one talks about the good stuffs of Nigeria. I tried as much as possible, to portray our cultural settings in the music. I have another one, “Oyelano”.
Have they been commercially released?
Yes, they have been released last year 2013 July. It is a new version of old songs. One thing I am very passionate about is my country. I have lived half of my life in Nigeria and the rest in UK, so in my songs, I reflected the culture there. I also made sure that whenever I am in the UK or any part of the world doing my job, I take a piece of Nigerian songs with me. I love Nigerian music. I am proud playing Nigerian music anywhere. But it is the House music I play that makes me unique.
What medium of expression did you use to sing “I love my country”?
Because it is a powerful song I put it in a medium that would be very simple to understand. I put it in a medium different from House music and Techno music. I think because of globalization, the country is becoming more open to new sounds. So for me, getting something that was very Nigerian and something that any one can listen to is exactly what I need. I got some Nigerian sounds and merged them with my own and some other sounds, that was how I got the fusion of Afro-beat and House music I used.
How do you intend to get your House music accepted considering the fact that Nigerians only love Afro-pop or Hip-hop?
Music is never static, it is always evolving. What we play today is quite different to what was being played in the past. There is a new music going on now, Cona by Mafikizolo and it already has a big market in Nigeria. This is a good sign that our people are ready for new sounds and willing to accept them.
Is doing your own songs and releasing them part of your 10-year plan?
When you talk about my 10-year plan, it is one of the reasons why I started my own company. As far as Nigerian music and Nigerian musical content is concerned, I feel like, there is so much to do on a larger global field. I think we are under-estimating the power of our music. Now that it is being accepted outside the country we should tap in to give it more global appeal. Part of my plan is to provide opportunity for African artistes to have a global platform.
I am not talking about forming a musical group but talking about having a structure to recognise publishing rights. In modern times, I see DJs and producers becoming more relevant in the business of music.
So I think moving forward will involve a lot of changes in the industry. Looking at the business side of music, we need to commercialize these talents. I ask myself, how can it be used as business. You have to look at how the industry is growing and how artistes are trying to protect their contents.
So, I am actually doing my masters in New York City and I will be doing a course in music business. I am looking forward to studying the legal side of entertainment, that is, studying Entertainment Law. A lot of music talents get wasted because, they are not well protected, their contents do not last long. When I talk about 10-year plan project, I know it is going to be a gradual process. I want a situation where Nigerian music will be very lucrative.
How supportive are your parents in your choice of career?
I will say that I am very lucky, I have the most supportive parents in the world. And I have the most supportive team in the world. My parents push me to be the best version of myself. I think it is all about being the best version of myself and not trying to be someone else. I am very lucky to have the kind of parents that are pushing and challenging me to be the best I can.
Being someone from a very rich background, people will always think that you have certain advantages over others?
A lot of times, people get distracted by the background information. I am where I am following my dreams and doing a very exciting project. Yes, maybe it is shadowed by my background but with time people will come to see that it is passion and talent that has worked for me.
You were made the official DJ for MAMA, can you share the experience with us?
Yes, I was actually the official DJ for MTV African award this year. What happened is that they approached me and told me they love what I am doing, especially with House music.
House music is big in South Africa and they love what I am doing with different sounds.I have done DJ work in different countries including Mexico. My job keeps me on my toes and I get to see different things. I am always up for a challenge.
How did you come about the name,“CUPPY”?
My stage name as you all know is DJ Cuppy. It comes from the word Cupcake. When I was very young I was obsessed with Cupcake. Because of that I choose DJ Cupcake but later asked myself if it is a name I would still like when I grow older. And when my friends started calling me all sorts of names because of the name I changed it to Cuppy.
How do you hope to survive in this male dominated profession?
That is a very interesting question and I think it is all about work line balance. To be honest, I am not very good at the moment, I work all the time. If I am not working, I am thinking of work. Like I said, I am not just a DJ, I run a music company. It is just a balance of everything. Being in a business that is mostly dominated by men, makes me more comfortable and confident. I just started and I am going for world domination.
You were quite impressive at the MTV award; how did you manage that?
I always say this is a job and you are there to satisfy your client. For me, if the dancehall is empty, it means that I am not doing my job. It is a matter of research. Before I went for that MTV award, for more than a week, I was busy researching South African music. I make sure I am very well prepared. My mother always tell me, ‘If you fail to plan you plan to fail’.
How good are you in Yoruba Language?
Honestly, I embarrass myself with the accent. I have lived half of my life in Lagos and half in London. I fully understand the language and love the culture and tradition but when I speak the language, I embarrass myself many times.
It is all over the internet that you have something for Ice Prince, how true is that?
Ice Prince is a friend of mine and we are actually working on a new song together.
When you told your mum about your DJ career, what was her first reaction?
My mother has actually been my everything. She has been very supportive of my career. She is such a strong woman, I only wish I can be half of what she is. All I know is that it is always good to do what you love. I also love to do business and that is why I am combining music and business together. From onset, I have always had this entrepreneurial spirit to run my own business one day, that, I will say I got from my dad.
Do you have plans of breaking into Nollywood?
No, I am not breaking into Nollywood. I am involved in a children animation which will be coming out very soon. I am one of the casts and I am very honoured. There are several ways of expressing oneself other than acting.
How much support do you get from your dad?
He is not only my mentor. He is very involved in my adventures. When I have shows he will help me go through the list. He is very passionate about music. He loves music a lot, when I was 6 years old, I remembered listening to Fela’s music with him in the car.