By Ebiere Torhuke
They started out as five members, now there are three of them in the group. Prince, Sir-K, Kendo, ADV and Double D once comprised the pop group known as Freewindz.
The Imo state-born guys began their music career on the platform of Myke Records and gave us the hit song, â€˜Who be that girlâ€™. Back with â€˜Datâ€™s the wayâ€™, â€˜Ifeomaâ€™ and â€˜Tolotoloâ€™ singles- the third got a nomination at the Nigeria Music Video Awards 2009.Â â€˜The Return of Freewindzâ€™- title of their new album, is about hitting the market.
The three brothers left in the group- Prince, Sir K and Kendo, paid a courtesy visit to Vanguard office and this is the outcome of our interactions.
Itâ€™s welcome home to the Vanguard.
Thank you. We are also happy to be back home.
How are you guys doing?
With God, all things are possible. Freewindz have been going from grace to grace. There are lots of countless blessings God has dealt us with, and we are very happy.
You guys have a new one in the market…?
Yeah, we just came from â€˜Dats D wayâ€™ and we are trying to move on to â€˜Tolotoloâ€™ and â€˜Ifeomaâ€™. They are hot singles and we are trying to promote them. Once there is big time demand, the album floats out automatically.
How come releasing singles before the main album release is gradually becoming a tradition with Nigerian artistes?
Itâ€™s actually dangerous bringing out your whole songs. No artiste wants his work to be a flop in the market.
So, singles help to create promotions for a coming album. When singles create the demand, then marketers will come and you can bill them well. Not that they (marketers) come and take your work for free, promising to pay you when the job starts selling. No artiste wants to do that anymore.
Are you saying the job is now for sale and itâ€™s no longer about getting signed on and earning royalties?
With all due respect, there are no longer record labels in Nigeria. We used to have them back then, but not anymore. Most artistes now deal with marketers directly. If itâ€™s N20m or N30m you want to buy my album, we negotiate and agree. They (marketers) are still cheating us o but we have no choice. We sell to them and move on.
How do you reckon that a particular job has done well enough in the market for you to come out with another album?
The song has to be everywhere. When we started promoting â€˜Dats the wayâ€™, in less than two months, we saw reactions. We went for shows and tours and saw peopleâ€™s response. Marketers were calling and asking for the album; Obaino, Ahbu, and several others. We started negotiating prices before Anasonic (a marketer) beat others and we sold it.
So the album is out…?
Yes, it is called â€˜The return of Freewindzâ€™.
What is the return all about.
Freewindz used to comprise five guys. Now, there are three of you. What happened?
The three of us, Sir K, Kendo, and Prince are actually brothers. Double D and ADV were part of the group but after we left Myke records, our former recording label, we went back to school. After school and NYSC, we (the five) had a meeting to discuss the continuity of our music career and the music business itself.
But Double D wanted to travel out of the country. In fact, right now, he is in the US and ADV works in First Bank, in Lagos. He (ADV) said he wanted to be a banker. The remaining three of us asked them if they were sure about their ambitions then and they said, yes. Sir K, Kendo, and Prince love music to the bones. So, we decided to stay put while they went their ways.
How much support do they still give you guys?
Last week, ADV had his child naming ceremony and we were there to celebrate with him. He is still our very good friend. He might even be my (Princeâ€™s) best man at my wedding. Thatâ€™s how close we are.
So you guys never had an issue that led to separation…?
None at all, not one.
Letâ€™s talk about your time with Myke Records.
First of all, we would like to thank Evang Mike Ikoku. He was an uncle, father,Â brother and an entrepreneur at the same time. He even started the name â€˜Free Windzâ€™; we give him kudos.
Till today, we donâ€™t know what actually went wrong but Myke Records was very financially supportive.
There was â€˜excessâ€™ money in that record label. I have not seen it (such financial backing) with any other label in Nigeria right now. Not with the new ones or the old. The issue we had was management. His management was F9 (poorest academic grade).
He didnâ€™t know how to maximize our acceptance. Our song then â€˜Who be that girlâ€™ was everywhere. There was no state we went to that it(the song) wasnâ€™t big.Â It was playing in every store, TV station, club, mix tape…
The song was so big but our management was poor and we couldnâ€™t do anything with the songâ€™s popularity.
Since you knew it was management problems, what did you guys do?
We were still babies. We were being spoon fed. And when you are being spoon fed you canâ€™t talk. Even if you do, your opinion wonâ€™t count. We talked to him(Mr Mike) a little but he always pushed us aside and that was it.
Do you owe him, going by the contract you signed then?
Itâ€™s not possible. We signed a three year- contract and that is over five years ago. We never left Myke records. You know, when you are under a record label, they (the company) are responsible for a lot of stuffs.
We met him and said we were ready for another album. And when there are signs like â€˜Iâ€™m busyâ€™ for about three to four months, you should understand the message without being told directly.
We went back to school and kept waiting. We were calling, and months ran into years, yet we couldnâ€™t do anything. Although, right now, we are still very close to him, we talk. Even last month, we were with him in his house.
You know heâ€™s the chairman for tourism in Imo state. We have been told that they(Imo state government) areÂ making Freewindz ambassadors of Imo state. That is the latest good news we have now and it is his (Mr. Mikeâ€™s) doing.
How did you cope when the funds stopped coming from Uncle Mike?
I wonâ€™t lie to you, it was mind blowing and devastating because then (as Myke recordsâ€™ artistes), we were eating from only Mama Cass, Mr Biggs or Tetrazzini. He(Mr Mike) actually paid outrightly for our meals for a year as we lived for almost two years in â€˜All Seasons Hotelâ€™ in Imo.
So, imagine living with such comfort having every thing, including a Chrysler and Lexus Jeep as official cars. When he pulled out, Oh my God! It is the grace of God that has sustained us thus far. If it was some other artiste that suddenly lost such kind of pampering and money, he may not survive it. So, today we thank God we are smiling again.
How are you taking off gradually…..?
We are not taking off,Â we are almost there. Next year, at all cost, will not pass us by. The song â€˜Dats the wayâ€™ really changed things. We are on MTNâ€™s bill, Glo, and we travel outside ofÂ Lagos a lot- Owerri, Aba, etc performing at wedding ceremonies and the likes. Itâ€™s getting better every day. It bought our car and we relocated.
So youâ€™ve relocated from Owerri…..?
Yes. Weâ€™ve rented a three- bedroom apartment in Surulere, and furnished it. Weâ€™ve also moved our parents to Lagos with our other siblings and rented them an apartment too. Things have really changed for us.