Ray Emodi is an actor, producer, songwriter and musician. He also holds a Bachelor’s degree from Nottingham Trent University in Business Management and a Master of Fine Arts (acting) from the New York Film Academy (LA branch).
In this interview with Star Tracker, he tells the story about his passion for acting and music, his style of music, his challenges, his plans and strategy to reach the pinnacle of the Nigerian and international entertainment landscape. Excerpts
By Mike Eboh
So far, what defines you and your music?
I think my experiences; I have had very unique and different experiences. The way I grew up, I grew up obsessed with music, movies and cartoons as a kid. I spent my time just visualising stories, I would get these stories in my head all the time, till now I still get stories and melodies in my head.’
Then I moved to Nottingham and I met a lot of great people and I also met a lot of bad people, it was a great experience. And then Los Angeles. Los Angeles had the biggest impact on me. I learnt a whole lot from Los Angeles.
What are you aiming at, like who is your role model? Who are you aiming to be like or to surpass in the music industry?
You would have to say that Wizkid is number one when it comes to African music presently. He is the biggest name and the biggest face in the African music industry because now, the western world has recognised him as an artist, so he works with them now on a level playing field.
He just released a song called Shaba with Chris Brown, Trey Songz and French Montana. He did a song called ‘One Dance’ with Drake, that was number one for about 9-10 weeks and he helped write the song; so Wizkid is definitely number one. So, that is someone I look up to.
Are you planning on launching an album soon?
My single is coming out soon, it was supposed to come out earlier, but we had a few hitches here and there, but it is coming out soon. It is supposed to be released on Rhythm, Hot FM, Cool FM and Wazobia, and Linda Ikeji, Notjustok and Jaguda.com which are the top blogs.
What is the title?
The name of the song is called Night Time.
What do you think people should expect from you music-wise?
Music-wise, they should expect a lot of fun music and then real music. I am releasing my Night Time and another one is coming out that is called ‘Would You’ and that is the one I am featuring Jable. These songs are like pop songs that have global appeal because I try to make songs for the world and not just for my neighbourhood, I am trying to reach everybody.
My fans should expect two things; first, songs that they can dance to; second, songs that make them think. I am going to be honest with my music, anything I say is true.
Do you think it would blend with the Nigerian market since it is produced by an LA producer and because there are settings that affect our music? Don’t you think it would be too strange to us?
No, and you know why, it is because it is a fusion, because what we do is that we look up to the western world. That is the truth. We get things from the western world, trends from the western world; so, when you bring products from the western world and you Nigerianize it with what you say on it.
I speak Igbo within the first two lines of my single, I spoke Igbo because I like using language that my people would understand in my songs.
Are you totally dumping acting for music?
No, I spent a lot of time and money learning acting, moved to LA to learn acting which is probably the most expensive place to live in the US and probably one of the most expensive places to live in the world. It is also a passion for me, I love acting, it’s just working with literally beautiful, talented and driven people.
I actually wrote, produced and directed a short film called “You don’t say”. This was in LA and it was supposed to be a comedic web series coming out every week.
Are you a producer also?
Yes, I produced in Los Angeles. I have never produced in Nigeria. I think it should be different.
Do you see yourself acting in any Nigerian movie in the near future?
Yes, but it has to be right for me.
What influence does your mother, Senator Joy Emodi, has on your career?
She is a role model. I don’t know if she has ever said this in any interview and she has done so many interviews. But there was a point in her life, I think she was pregnant and she was in law school and she had a fashion house with people working for her; she would go to Anambra, Onitsha I think, to go and buy materials herself. She was pregnant while doing this and still made it through law school.
When she gave birth to us she was still hustling, she tried to make it in politics which is also a saturated market. You have children, you are a woman; so when you come, they look at you as a woman and there is another man that wants the same job that you want and they might think that this other man might be more credible than you, this is the impulsive response to seeing a woman and she made it in spite of all those challenges.
I am in a saturated market, I am in the music industry but when I look at what my mother did, it inspires me and I know that I can make it too and that is why when I talk I don’t say if I make it but when I make it, this and that would happen, not this may happen. She is a driven woman, she is strong, she is stronger than me and with time I hope to be as strong as she is. She always advises me, she drives me to become great, so I love that woman.