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I come with the whole package

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Singer, songwriter and song producer,  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 Nigeria’s fine international song producers and more recently, artiste. He plays a number of  musical instruments and calls Boston home.More popular by his first two names, and his recently released 18-track album, Sho Stoppah, Duncan who doesn’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 D’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 doesn’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 family’s not an average one. My mum’s a lecturer and actually a professor of Chemical Engineering. My dad’s a Mechanical Engineer. My sister’s a medical doctor. My younger brother a Computer Engineer, and I’m a Sound Engineer. Everyone’s really smart.

Do you feel inferior to them in anyway?
No. You know why? Because they can’t do what I do. They can’t operate the machinery that I operate. I’m not just a singer. I know the art of arranging music from scratch, filtering and mixing of sounds which most producers don’t even know. That differentiates me a lot. I come with the whole package and I don’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. I’ve stayed out on the streets before because I was kicked out of the house. My family’s quite wealthy,  yet I’d been cut off from family funds before because of music. So, I’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 what’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 doesn’t feel like work. It’s not about trends ; it’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,  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 D’Coque and other good music. I think that’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. That’s what being a producer is about. That’s why I’m more known by the industry professionals than artistes. Production is something I entered into when I couldn’t afford producing or recording myself.

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