By Rotimi Agbana & Tolulope Abereoje

 Born Tobiloba Mariam Adeyemi, delectable singer, better known as Toby Grey is poised to set a benchmark in her music career. Besides talent, creativity and determination, the pretty youngster is confident of her salt as an entertainer with class and panache. In this interview with Star Tracker, she bares it all.

Toby Grey
Toby Grey

How have you been able to withstand the industry’s pressure? Truly it’s a lot of pressure because you have to consider so many factors and being a female artiste, there are a lot of factors to consider. From your hair, to your makeup, to the kind of song you put out, to wanting to stand out by doing something different so that people can pay attention to you, it’s a lot of pressure. The way I cope is knowing at the back of my mind that I just have to put in my best regardless of the circumstances.

But just know that you are doing your best and put in your best, don’t over-exhaust yourself. That’s what I do. I don’t try to milk myself too dry and I have nothing because at the end of the day, you still need to be able to satisfy yourself as well as satisfying the fans.

It is generally believed that artistes live for their fans, how true is this?

It is not all artistes that live their lives for their fans, that is why in the industry some artistes are considered rebels. Take Eminem for instance. Eminem is someone that says whatever is on his mind regardless of the consequences, not caring what anybody says at the end. So there are artistes that don’t care what people say and there are other categories of artistes that have to put up a front.

Again, I’ll say it is the circumstances in the industry because there are times when you put out something that is original to you and out of frustration that nobody is paying attention to you then you decide to do something you think they would accept and when they begin to pay you that attention, you are like ‘okay let me continue’.

So when you keep giving them those kinds of materials you are stuck, you can’t really go back to the real you. If you get to a stage where people love you already, regardless of what you do, then you are lucky

How would you describe your style of music?

In the past I used to say expressive afro-pop but right now I’m not shy or scared to say I’m still trying to discover the word to categorize my style of music. I just know that I’m a versatile artiste and I love music and I love what I put out for my fans.

Aren’t you scared of being criticized for saying this?

As long as I know what I’m doing, I don’t think about someone thinking that I don’t know what I’m doing, that’s the most important thing because the moment you start thinking about that, you begin to show that you don’t know what you are doing. That’s not even on my mind, it’s not a concern for     me at all, and I’ll just keep doing my music. It’s just the world, there are no rules. If you keep following the rules all the time, you’ll just be like everyone. You’ll follow the band wagon and nothing stands you out. So if at the end of the day they have something to say about me, then I’m making waves.

Was there ever a time you felt like you shouldn’t have gone into music?

Yes, I’ve had times when I really cried and  told myself that maybe it is time I left the country and probably get a 9-5 job or do 2-3 jobs and just do something else or maybe stay in this country but do something else apart from music because it just seemed like it’s not for me or it’s not working. Mind you, it doesn’t mean I don’t believe in myself, there are so many factors around it. I mean you get so overwhelmed with everything that is going on and trying to process it, trying to soak it in and you just breaks down.

What was it like working with 9ice and Skales on your  latest song ‘Konibaje’?

Working with other artistes opens your eyes to see that you are not the only one that does this thing and then you learn different ways to do it because at the end of the day, it’s not just music, it is also a business. So, you have to learn so many things about it. Working with them for me was very informing, I learnt a lot.

Many people think Skales is still struggling to find his feet in the industry, do you also agree?     If you look at where he started from, you will see that he is not in the same place. Every single person that I met along the line has progressed, where they started from is not where they are. Some people are either by the way, down below or up there. So, it’s just how it is. People will keep advancing and I don’t want to say much about his career because I’ve not really paid attention to his career. So, even if people don’t feel like he has blown, it doesn’t mean he’ll not get to where those people think he isn’t.

Do you still plan on doing more French songs like you did on ‘Love Dosage’?

Yes, I do. I have plans to work with francophone artistes because I’m planning on expanding my fan base. I already have some songs that I’ve done with francophone artistes and I did a song recently titled ‘Applaudissez’. It’s partly English and partly French and I did that to test the waters to see how people will respond and it has definitely gained some buzz. I can’t really wait to share my French side with my French fans. So I’m definitely doing more of French songs.

Whenever you remember Shina Peters grabbing your butt on stage three years ago, what comes to your mind?

It’s in the past already. At that moment I felt embarrassed no doubt, but I got over it after that day. I still replayed the scenario in my head for about a week though because I just couldn’t imagine that it happened to me, but after that I totally forgot it because he apologized the day it happened. I got over it until everybody started to talk about it again. Obviously something in my head went from green to red that day; it wasn’t a fun experience so I can’t really say it had a positive impact on how I feel about him.

You are in an industry with many successful female artistes, which of them scares you?

Instead of something to scare me, I consider it a motivation. If I see a lion running towards me to bite my head off, I don’t get scared, I get motivated to find a way to kill that lion before it gets to me instead. I prepare myself in defense mode to attack not getting scared because when I get scared, there is no way it would not attack me and harm me. The only being, the Supreme Being that I fear is God.

Is it true you did a cover of Kiss Daniel’s ‘woju’ to gain attention?

Doing a cover of a song is not such a big deal but I think mine was a big deal because many people knew about it. I wouldn’t say I’m not glad that I did that cover because it gave me quite a lot of attention.

You seem to be so much in love with your body, is that why you have so much sensual pictures online?

Most of the sensual pictures you see online were wrong decisions from when I was much younger in the industry and I had no clue of what I was doing; everyone was doing a photo shoot and I just wanted to do mine. I didn’t have an idea of how I wanted to look and I placed everything in the hand of everyone around me, even those that didn’t need to be involved.

So the decision was not solely mine. I can’t defend it anymore because those pictures are obviously mine; everyone is seeing me and not the people that put them together. I don’t regret posting any of those pictures because I learnt something from it and I don’t regret any experience I learn something from.



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