By Ogbonna Amadi, Entertainment Editor
Peter and Paul Okoye are perhaps the most famous twins in the country today. In this interview with Showtime Celebrity they bare their minds on issues bordering on their career, women and family.
Can you cast your mind back to when you started?
Yes. Whenever I see an upcoming artistes, I just say to myself that he or she is trying. But one can’t really compare now to when we started. Then, most Nigerian TV and radio stations don’t play Nigerian music or support musicians.
But now, everyone of them is keying into what we do and it makes it really easier. Then, we had to come to Lagos because we wanted to be big in the industry. But now, an artiste could be anywhere and still make it big in the industry.
So how tough was it for you guys when you started?
It was so tough that we had to think of how to combine schooling with music. We had to think of our parents, how to hussle and where we came from. Generally, it was tough and that’s why we’re not surprised at where we are and what we have today.
Although some fans and friends may see our success story as a big deal, the truth is that success has become part of us and we do whatever our fans want. But it wasn’t so easy in the beginning
So how do you relax?
We invite friends, watch movies, play soccer, swim and hang out with babes. But there’s hardly any weekend that we don’t have one concert or the other. So we hardly rest at weekends unless when we have shows in Lagos.
Do you live a normal life?
No way. We can’t even take a stroll on our street without people screaming our names. My normal life included receiving my friends and hanging out with them on the streets. But we can’t do that anymore because people won’t just let us be.
Our normal lives are gone, seriously. We like Akara (beans cake) but we can no longer stroll out to buy Akara anymore. Even if we’re in the car and we need something, our P.A would be the one to get it. We miss our freedom.
One day, we paid them a surprise visit while they were playing and introduced ourselves, gave them our support and told them that we’d like to play with them once in a while.
And it has really helped us because we go there to play on Sundays. But we’re more careful not be get injured. And we miss going out to eateries and local joints like the Mama-put.
So how then do you get to eat food prepared by the Mama put?
We send someone to do so. If it were in those days, we’d go there and point at what we want to eat. The problem is, when we send someone to do the buying, they wouldn’t know what we’d prefer.
Since you’ve become so famous, when do you think you’ll have the time to be your real persons?
Well, It will happen some day. Our way of thinking here in Nigeria is different from those in other countries. That’s why whenever we travel abroad, we stay behind for a while before coming back.
This is because we’re free to go wherever we want, especially the beaches, because that’s where we find freedom, because there’d be no one screaming our names there.
But then we try as much as possible to go to private beaches in Lagos. Still, we’ll end up taking pictures there from when we arrived till we leave. At the early stages we used to think celebrity lifestyle isn’t it, but now, we are used to it.
But I’m sure you never wished for these when you were kids?
What we asked from God was that he blesses us so that we can live a fulfilled life and be a blessing to others. But we didn’t know the implication of it all. For instance, whenever we go to Silverbird to watch a movie, we’ll have to sit in the car.
Someone would go get the ticket and we’d end up staying in the car till like five minutes to the start of the movie. Then we’ll just walk straight to the room but there’s nothing we can do about it.
What about the girls?
The girls are the best thing to happen to us
Do they throw pants and under wears at you guys too?
It’s normal. Sometimes they bare their breasts for us to sign autographs. The girls are the ones that give us the confidence, that we’re doing the right thing.
Guys would just hail us but the female fans would give us signals and make us know that we’re on the right track. So we try our best to give our female fans all the time we think we can give to them.
What are some of the bizzare things some ladies have done just to touch you?
Most of the times, they don’t understand the situation we are in. And because we happen to know some of them, they sometimes think they’re the only ones that we know.
There are situations when we’d go out on a date with some of them and another one may walk in and they’d complain that we don’t give them the attention without knowing that we’re on a date.
But we still have to threat them with respect. So many things happen backstage and even before going on stage we’d want to pray, but before you realise what’s going on, they just come to you for pictures. And when you tell them you’re about going on stage, they’d think you’re feeling too big.
They think we’re perfect and don’t need any preparation. Some of them may want to visit us at home but we try as much as possible not to make our house a place for all. Some even want our numbers and BB pins. Ladies are the best but at the same time we have to make them know their limits because if you don’t, they may get hurt.
Are there situations where some ladies would want a kiss or take you to bed?
Yes o! Some would even threaten you, if you don’t kiss them. And we wouldn’t have a choice than to kiss them-but not the deep kiss.
What about those who want you to touch their bodies?
Yeah, at times we touch their boobs if they want it.
Do you experience stage fright and how do you deal with it?
That only happens whenever we go for sound check before the show. Sometimes we wouldn’t be sure of the sound because something may be wrong.
But when they tell us not to worry that it’ll be fixed, then, the fear vanishes. When we travel out of the country, we what we do is, ask the organizers, promoters and fans that we meet, to list their top ten (10) P-Square songs that they love.
That helps a lot because we don’t want to bore our fans with our choice of songs. Sometimes, we experience language barrier, especially when we go to French speaking countries. We often make sure we’re with a translator.
So, stage fright is a nor mal thing but our own way of dealing with it is that before we go on stage, we pray and test the microphone from the backstage. And as soon as we get on stage, the first scream you’ll hear from the crowd will tell you that you’re in-charge of the stage.
Was there ever a time you walked into a show and your expectation wasn’t met?
Never. The only one I can remember which is something general was during our first American tour. we ‘d heard gist that Nigerian artistes go over there to perform in clubs and they come here and claim to have performed at concert circuits.
So, when the promoter told Jude they wanted P-Square, he told them that the hall capacity must not be less than five thousand before we could go over. When we got to America and it was one week to the show, we heard it would be a club performance. When we heard it, we were perplexed and wanted to know whether the speculation was true.
The show was at Atlanta and when we got to the venue, the crowd we met there, was more than five thousand, and the place was too small to contain them. Another hall had to be set up for the remaining two thousand persons.
So when we finished performing at the 5000 capacity hall, we moved straight to entertain the remaining persons, doing the same thing with the same quality.
The guys who invited us to play didn’t play by the rules of the police that not more than five thousand people should be at the venue, so there was a problem.
And during our first performances, we flung our T-shirts and belts into the crowd. At the second venue, we had to borrow belts from our bouncers.
Could the Usher lookalike thing have helped your show in America?
No. The thing about the American concerts is that it’s not like what we have here. P-Square is of Africa and most of the countries we’ve been to are in Africa. When we went to Minnesota the Nigerians living there weren’t up to three hundred, but there were like three thousand Sierra-lonians living there.
It’s only when you go to NewYork that you see more Nigerians. So P-Square isn’t like a Nigerian thing anymore, it’s African.
If other Nigerian artistes want to do shows outside Nigeria, organizers would have to ask for the number of Nigerians living there. But for P-Square, they gave us access based on how many Africans living there.
How does being wealthy make you feel?
There are so many things that my brother and I wouldn’t want to make public. We have our foundation but we’ve never made it public. It’s between us and God. We pay school fees of more than thirty people, most of whom are under graduates. Their names are on our records.
We have someone taking care of these things for us. All he does is come to us when it’s time for them to pay school fees and once in a year, they all visit us here. We’ve even helped footballers to travel out for their career and we’re proud of it. Our mother told us not to make everything we do public. And I think that’s one way God keeps blessing us and people don’t know.
How much do you spend on charity?
We can’t really say. All we know is that, once it’s June/July, we have to pay the school fees of everyone onboard. And there are incidents that happen and we help out. Like last month, we read about a woman who needed money for surgery. And it was unfortunate that she’s the mother of our flight agent and he didn’t tell us.
When we saw a number on the page and dialed the number, it was his name that appeared on the screen. He picked and said ‘yes boss’.
After we found out she’s his mother, we had to help out. The last time we celebrated our birthday, our plans was to even sleep at the orphanage, but the patron told us to go because if we stayed the children wouldn’t be able to sleep because of our presence.
You’re so close to your mother that one wouldn’t even know whether you have a father… First of all, you know fathers and how very hard they are with their children. But mothers are more caring. Our father was a serious obstacle to us.
Doesn’t he like music?
Not that. He wanted us to be something else other than artistes. So it was more like if we don’t drop music, he would stop paying our school fees. When we left Jos for Lagos, it wasn’t because we wanted to make it big, we did it to challenge him.
And my mother was confused because she was like we’ve killed her. But we told her not to worry. The four of us Peter, Paul, Tony and Jude left the house with a state of mind that our father should forget about us. Although we left, we are still very close till today as family.
How are you able to cope with your elder brother being part of your business?
When we were younger, we were the same. We do same things. None of us has problem with money. We’re not greedy because if we are, there will be problems.
There’s no barrier between us. When we want to buy cars, money is handed out to everyone. We know that we had nothing where we were coming from. So now that we have enough money, we are not ready to be selfish about it. Instead, we spend more money on our relations that on ourselves.
So how do you run your accounts here?
We have a joint account with Peter, Paul and Jude as signatories.
You don’t have personal accounts?
People contract P-Square and not Jude. So does he get his percentage?
This might be funny. We don’t give percentages to one another. We are property oriented so money doesn’t stay in our accounts for too long. There’s no how P-Square would release an album without using the money for a project like buying lands and building houses. What we now do after those houses are built is to share it among ourselves.
So how do you handle personal needs?
If any of us has personal expenses, the money would be given to him.
Are you saying that beyond this house you stay in, there are other houses?
The biggest house is in Jos where our parents live.
Where else do you have houses?
Here in Lagos and we’re kicking off our third house here. There’s one in Lekki
Are you not thinking of the possibility of women coming to cause problems between you all?
This is what we’ve always prayed against, that God would not to allow any woman come between us and cause problems. And problems can only come when one of us marries the wrong woman.
And I think that’s our prayer that none of us should change. There are families who still remain like this for many years. There’s a family that we know, they’ve helped us so much and it’s from them we got this idea of staying together.
As P-Square, whenever money comes, we keep it in a place and that’s why many people look at us as Igbo boys. As Igbo boys, do you think we’ll build a house in Lagos without building in our village? It’s not possible.
When you get married and you start having children, how will you split your money?
You see this house where we are is a two-wing house. We have houses both in Lagos and outside Lagos and anybody can decide to live in any of them.