Says, “Calling yourself a celebrity is pomposity”
By Aderonke Adeyeri
Adeyemi Adeosun, popularly known as Yemi Sax, is one of Nigeria’s best saxophonists. He is the pioneer of Afro-hip jazz in Nigeria, fusing hip-hop, jazz and African rhythm. Yemi Sax is also a singer, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, composer and music producer. He was born in the early 80’s in the city of Lagos, Nigeria and is from the royal family of Adeosun in Erin-Ijesha, Osun State. In this encounter, he talks about his marriage, career, and other interesting revelations. Excerpts:
It’s been long we heard from you; what’s happening?
I needed to spend time with my new family, so I was in and out of the country but I did go for performances and corporate events. I should have released an album last year but could not. My last album was 2012 and my fans know I release songs once in every two years. Aside from being a saxophonist, I am also a studio engineer, producer, and I mix sounds, write songs. And these also take my time.
How soon should we expect an album from you?
I plan to release a 21-track album before the end of October. I also intend to release some vocal works next year.
Do you plan collaborating with other saxophonists to achieve that?
No, I only look forward to collaborating with my sax mentors and icons by the special grace of God. People like Kenny G,Gerald Albright, Kirk Whalum, Dave Koz etc.
Why foreign saxophonists only?
I listen more to foreign saxophonists. I really don’t have any saxophonist I look up to in Nigeria. However, I will be collaborating with some Nigerian musicians like Asha, 2face, Ice Prince, and others next year. Watch out for Yemi Sax doing vocals next year.
What do you consider before playing the sound of a song?
The technicality of the rhythm and maturity of a song, lyrics, transition, and other technical factors. I am not known for playing popular songs. I play songs with good beats but I avoid those with vulgarities in them. This gives parents who love the song the chance of playing the song in their homes without the fear of corrupting their kids.
I am a multi-instrumentalist but after learning other instruments, I tend to love saxophone most.
Why did you choose music for a career?
I never planned it but music has always been part of me. At a point, I couldn’t see myself doing any other thing better than music. Music took over me and I saw myself struggling to concentrate on other things. Music is a thing of the soul and a jealous profession, so to say. I also come from a family where you must know how to play at least one musical instrument.
What was growing up like?
Growing up wasn’t too bad but wasn’t rosy at the same time. My parents made sure we never missed any church activity. Also, my mum was a teacher and disciplinarian to the core. She’s retired now but own a school. My dad was a bit lenient. He is now a retired banker. He was one of the pioneers of indigenous Christian music in Nigeria with his hit album in 1965. I am happy being part of that family.
Tell us about your father as a musician?
He is Prince S.A. Adeosun. He is of Christ Apostolic Church, Yaba. He had an album in 1965 with the title ‘’Kristi mo faraa mi fun o” meaning ‘’To you oh Christ I give myself”.
Did your parents, especially your mother, support your own style of music?
My mum never had problem with my choice of career from the onset. She’s the type who supports whatever you do as long as you put God first. I come from a family where there is mutual respect of opinions.
Can we deduce you started music from the church like many musicians?
Yes, I was a church organist and already a member of the choir at age six.
What is your view about the music industry?
Our music industry is really growing by the day. And we must all understand that Rome was not built in a day. Nigerians can’t expect magic in terms of structure, quality etc. Things have really improved. One can at least be proud to be recognized as a musician. In fact, many of us enjoy many juicy privileges because they call us “celebrities”. Unlike some years back, when people see musicians as beggars, dropouts, vagabonds etc.
Don’t you see yourself as a celebrity?
I see myself as one with a popular face. The moment an entertainer feels he is a celebrity, that is the beginning of being pompous.
What has marriage changed about you?
Marriage has made me more responsible and a better person, which I really love. I thank God for blessing me with the best woman there is. No one could be better than the woman in my life. She is very understanding and supportive.
How did you meet her?
I met my wife through someone I helped. I had a friend whose own friend was stranded in Nigeria when she lost her passport. My wife was also a friend to my own friend and came to drop the stranded friend. I patronized the stranded friend who had to pay me for accommodating her. I got my wife’s contact and we became friends on phone. I was after my wife for two years before she agreed to a lunch date. After the lunch date, I was able to take our friendship to the next level.
Many celebrity marriages collapse over time; any preventive measure?
Nothing in particular. I am Adeyemi Adeosun when I’m with my wife and not Yemi Sax. I try to love my wife anew on daily basis, show her love, listen to her advice and carry her along in almost everything I do. Those are my preventive measures.
Has your wife ever been intimidated by any female fan?
Never, she is confident. She understands my profession perfectly and I appreciate her for that.
Women constitute a larger percentage of your fan base; how do you handle them considering you’ re young, handsome, and married?
I appreciate my female fans a lot and I handle them with 100% level of maturity and God’s wisdom, not forgetting that I am happily married.
Which of your assets do you cherish most?
Cherish? I see every of my asset as necessity.
I just wanted to change my look.
Should your fans look up to you changing your dreads?
I can’t say but nothing is impossible.
What will Yemi Sax never be found doing?
Change is a constant thing in human lives. Nevertheless, I will never glorify myself for my achievements in life rather I glorify God who deserves all the glory.
We are yet to hear of any endorsement by you, why?
No major endorsements at the moment but I can smell some coming already (smiles). I’ve companies who support me in different ways.