By Juliet Ebirim
Fast rising singer and songwriter, Simisola Bolatito Ogunleye, popularly known as Simi wrote her very first tune at the age of 10 and started singing and dancing in her early teens as a member of the teenage church choir. The songstress whose songs include ‘Jamb Question’ and ‘Open and Close’, recently dropped yet another hit single titled ‘ Love don’t care’ In this interview, the award winning graduate of Mass communication who is signed to X3M music talks about her musical journey, plans for the year and life generally. Excerpts….
How have you fared since you delved into the Nigerian music scene?
It has been fabulous so far. Although the journey has not been easy but with persistence for the career I have a passion for, it has improved. This year 2016, February precisely, I released a single, ‘Love don’t care’ which has made the top ten in the Nigerian music chart for a couple of weeks now and is currently enjoying massive airplay on radio. I have also shot the video for the single ‘Soldier’ with Falz which is expected to be out soon. With all these, I can say my career is very promising.
Most of the songs you recently put out have a touch a humor in them, is it a kind of niche you are trying to carve for yourself?
Yes, I think it’s something people are beginning to notice in my music, there is usually a touch of humor in it. Some of my songs are also serious business without a pinch of humor in them. But you’ll realise that my songs which are laced with humor are actually realistic.
Do you write your songs and how are you able to put the lyrics together?
Of course, I write my lyrics myself and for other people, don’t forget that I am not just a singer, but equally a song writer and I mix and master most of my songs myself. My songs have to do with how I feel. If it is a realistic song, it will make you think deep. For instance, Jamb question is not really a deep song but the most important thing about it is that people picked my message in it.. How deep I go is dependent on what I am trying to say. If I sing a song on heartbreak, and if it is personal, I might probably go too deep. But my songs are inspired by people’s experience in life and what I see around me. Most of my songs may not necessarily be attached to my personal experience. I just write songs to inspire others.
I am a very straight forward person, I like to say things the way I see them, I don’t like beating about the bush. I am not pretentious but a simple and realistic person. One thing I dislike most is pretense and I don’t like people who pretend.
So what keeps you going?
I have an amazing team. There is really little I can do myself like I can write my songs, mix and master them, but there is an engine that makes it work better and that is my management team. They make sure at all times, I’m on the right path. I have always said that I am very favored because God loves me so much and put a little extra time in molding me into what I have become today.
How much difference can you tell about the Simi then and now that are on the X3M music label?
A lot has changed because, before I was signed on X3M label, most people didn’t know me and my songs. But now that I have one of the best management team, they take on all my stress and make things happen for me easily. Now I am more calculated and focused to know that the entertainment industry is truly a busy one that comes with lots of work to carry on.
Does your management team in anyway influence the choice of song your write?
Not at all, I don’t know how it is done in other labels but here, I am at liberty to write my songs at any time and inscribe my own title to it.
What will you say your label is doing differently from other record labels?
In all fairness, I don’t know what they do in other record labels but all I can say is that my label has always got my back at all times. Most times I get a no for some suggestions I make and that is the more reason I love my team; I love people who can say no to me and not necessarily giving me a yes to please me. Take for instance, before we released Jamb question, I was going to drop Open and Close but my management team disagreed on that and that made me feel real bad. But at the end of the day when Jamb Question was released before Open and Close, I realized it was a great decision.
Will you say you are currently enjoying your celebrity status?
Well this is the real me. I can still stop by and buy roasted plantain by the road side. I don’t feel uncomfortable, I am not blown away by fame because that is not what excites me in the game, what excites me is the music. I am happy about my celebrity status only because more people know my music and want to relate with it.
Describe your genre of music?
My kind of music is Afro Pop/RNB but mostly Afro-soul
If you are to do a song about yourself, what will the title be and why?
I think it will be All Love because I feel like when other people are happy, I am equally happy. This life is too short and we need to smile and be happy. I also know that the root of happiness is love which can be spread to loved ones.
When should your fans be expecting your album?
Definitely this year, as all hands are currently on deck towards the successful outcome of the album. I won’t be disclosing the number of tracks and title for now, as we are still working on that but my fans should rest assured that the album will drop this year all things being equal.
What keeps you going?
My passion – because the only reason why I am doing music is because my attention span can be very short but one thing that keeps me more focused is music. Music is that one thing I really want to learn about and the passion I have for the art of music pushes me on and keeps me going.
As a graduate of Mass Communication, do you see yourself going into the media and writing?
I actually have a blog, although I have not been very loyal to it. I love writing, if I wasn’t into music full-time, I would probably be either a writer or an O.A.P. Writing is a part of me.
What was growing up like?
Growing up I was kind of a tom boy (laughing) because I had 3 elder brothers and from my mum, I was the only girl and last born. So I used to like snickers, baggy jeans etc. My dad spoilt my brothers and I. And we watched movies a lot, but my brothers preferred horror movies and so we all watched it together. But it was fun. When I was 9 years, my parents separated and so that was really a tough time for us, because we had to grow up faster. We came through it and we are okay.
Why does your songs revolve around love?
It is because love sells. When you talk about love, it encompasses so many things. Not women or sex alone, but issues that are love related that could keep you happy. I can’t see myself doing a song that is too political or not love related. It’s always good to carve a niche and spread it to other related issues without deviating.
Having started musically from a church background, should we hope to see you go into gospel music someday?
No, I can do a Christian song as the inspiration leads me but would not see myself as a gospel artiste.
How do you unwind?
I love swimming. Though, I never feel comfortable with bikinis. At the beach, modest dressing without too much flaunting could go for me. But at the swimming pool where everyone is in a swimsuit, it makes no difference so long as no one is offended with what every other person is wearing.
How do you feel when you hear negative stories about you?
I don’t know because I haven’t had any. If it happens, I will respond positively. If the story is not true I will keep mute and just let people assume. The truth is I don’t waste my energy thinking about negative stories.
Do you feel threatened by the number of talented female artistes in the industry and how do you intend to balance up?
I don’t feel threatened by anybody, not because I don’t think they are good, it’s just that there is enough room for anybody to shine. I am not trying to compete, so whenever I see someone trying to do amazing things, I wish them the best. And I’m even happy that we have more females that are standing out in the industry.
Let’s talk about your style, are you a designer freak?
Not really but if you give me a designer outfit, be sure I will rock them well but I am not into designers. I love our local fabrics and designs.
What is your most annoying daily routine?
That will be taking my bath. It’s not that I don’t like bathing but I love to multi-task. At times I might be brushing my teeth while also operating my system or reading. But when you get into the bathroom, you just can’t do any other thing.
What will you not be cut dead wearing?
I think that will be the full Iro and Buba. Maybe when I am getting married, I will probably wear one but for now, I won’t. I could remember the last time my mum made one for me, I really looked ridiculous in it.
Is Simi in a relationship?
Does he support your musical career?
Of course, he is my number fan. He gives me adequate support at all time.