The name Klem or Ikemefunna Nwanbonye doesn’t ring a bell to the average Nigerian music lover but hit songs like Sade by Davido, Yolo by Seyi Shay, Nackam by Yemi Alade, Applaudise and Gift by Iyanya are well-known songs.
Meet the serial hit songwriter who has been behind some of your favourite Nigerian pop songs. Klem, as he’s fondly called in this chat, talks about songwriting in Nigeria, his gains, trouble and aspiration.
Songwriting in the music industry
The song writing thing has not been that easy. The journey is not easy at all because the writing thing is not yet in Nigeria. Why I said it’s not easy is that people use your items at times and they don’t give you credit. You have to do much more so they can give you credit. It is not easy but when I started it was not easy and now by God’s grace, it’s paying.
Challenges faced so far
The challenges I have been facing is just the credit part. You write songs of people and they withhold the truth that you wrote it for them.
Give examples of people who have done that
I don’t want to mention it because there’re lots of them, but some people have been given me credit, people like Yemi Alade ,Seyi Shay, like the Ferrari I wrote for Yemi Alade she gave me credit. She always gives me credit. Seyi Shay gave me credit for Yolo Yolo I wrote for her.
But then, Nigerian artist don’t want fans to know they use songwriters but now, they are beginning to appreciate and give credit.
Who have you written so far?
I wrote For my matter for Emmy Nyra, I wrote Nakam for Yemi Alade, Yolo Yolo for Seyi Shay, Glass House by 9ice, Sade for Davido also I wrote track 8 in his first album, and I wrote Appludise for Iyanya, and Gift for iyanya ft Don jazzy.
How did you write the songs, did you listen to the beat first or write first?
Mine is a gift anyway. Even lot of people come at times to tell me to teach them how to write, I don’t really know how to go about it because it is a gift, it is an inbuilt thing. At times the inspiration just comes, it is spiritual. And I also write when I listening to the beat, but mostly I write without listening to the beat because it comes naturally and I will just write it.
I prefer writing it before the producer; it sounds more natural without the beat.
How much did you charge?
I charge 1millon for top musicians, and I charge four hundred thousand for upcoming acts.
As a song writer did you think you deserve more as the terms of royalties?
Yeah, I deserve more; I’m not even talking for myself alone. I am talking about every other song writers because when they give you credit on the song you have written, it motivates you a lot. Because you will write more, because you selling your song is just like “a mother that gives birth to a baby and that day the baby was snatched away from her, so anytime you see the baby you will be sad that the baby is not yours again.
If you write a song for someone and the person credit you, it gives you more client and people will patronize you because these artists get paid more than we song writers, so if they can credit us more, it will get us more clients and we will grow.
Who would you like to work with?
I worked with Davido, Yemi Alade, Seyi Shay, 9ice, Don Jazzy, Iyanya, lot of them , I think the person I will like to work with now is 2Face (2BABA) am even working on it now, then ASA. Those are the people I would really like to work with because those are deep musician kind of people I like, they are deep thinkers, if you want to write for those people, they make you read and think before you write. Those are people I look forward to working with.
You are about to release your single. Do you think you will be successful as an artist?
The music thing is there, at first I started with music before I discovered music writing, I was singing, in fact, I threw out some single that blew up then before God now answered my prayer and opened my eyes in song writing. So, I know if I should release a single, I will be successful. It might take me little time but I know by God’s grace, i have written out some tracks that’ll really blow up.
You know human being have their own ways and God has his own way. So, the thing is, if God has given me that opportunity to throw out a single, then it does not really need anyone’s acceptance or permission.
And the thing is that, most of these celebrities have heard me singing so they will be like I should throw out my track, so they are already expecting me already.
Are you signed to any record label?
No, but I work for them, we work together just to create sounds.
When should Nigerians expect your singles?
Thay should be expecting it any moment from now, maybe next month.
What’s the title?
It is a funny tittle, SOKOYOKOTO
If accepted by Nigerian music audience, how would you feel?
It is just a normal thing to be surprised because human beings are full of surprises, but if I should be expecting, that means I will have to work hard on my music. Nigerians appreciate good musicians. When you give them what they want and the materials are ok why won’t they accept it. Lots of writers out there in U.S are appreciated.
Do you have plans to go for training and courses on songwriting?
Yes, I really need to go for that. Because, as a guy, I don’t know anything. The ones am displaying now are those that God has given to me. I need to go and acquire more knowledge.
I just want to get through with all the assignments I have here then I move on that, travel out to acquire more knowledge because being a song writer, we are entitled to some things I need to know. There are some benefits am not enjoying now because we know nothing about them here.
Do you engage a lawyer when signing contracts with artists?
Yes, I do.