Apampa Owolabi Oluwadamilola better known as Dammy Twitch has worked with some big shots in the music industry. From Davido to Burnaboy, Olamide and some other notable names, the multi-talented Economics graduate from Redeemers University speaks on how he has created a niche for himself in the Nigerian music industry. Excerpts:
Tell us your name and a bit about you and your background?
I am Apampa Owolabi Oluwadamilola, born 27th October, 1995. I was born in Oyo State but originally from Ogun State. I grew up in Oluyole, Oyo State and moved to Lagos State much later. I did my secondary school till JSS 3 at Redeemers Secondary school and then moved on to finish secondary school at TAIDOB College. I graduated from Redeemers University with a degree in Economics.
So how many years have you been doing this?
I began playing with photography in 2013 and while at it, I met a lady who was quite impressed and she helped me get some paid gigs. From then, I started getting gigs for burials and event photography- that’s how the hustle started paying early. While doing photography, I also was playing with video editing and in 2017, I got to do some work with Director Q as an editor. By the end of 2017, I kicked off full-on in music video production with my personal brand. Soon as I started, I began actively seeking opportunities to make more and more content.
Tell us about your roles so far
So basically, I have done photography, I have been a video editor and then a DOP. I started out with video editing. While at school, I’d edit videos on my phone and then proceed to learn what more I could do editing on a system.
Now I direct, oversee and execute the production process and I am particular and very hands-on on post production so I personally now sit to the final output. I now work with a team that takes up different parts of the process from pre-production to post.
Besides video production, are you involved in any other kind of work or projects?
Yes. Quite a number. For example, I and my team are working on a platform pretty much like humans of New York. So basically we will be taking pictures of people in different walks of life and telling their stories. With this, we look to tell the story of the country and continent through pictures and captions and help people tell their stories so other people can make a connection or relate with the situations obtainable on ground here. It’s still a work in progress but will be out soon. It’s our way of giving back to society and expanding on the African story from a contemporary angle. We will put that out really soon.
Tell us how the journey of your video production/directing career really took off
Okay so when I started doing this full time as a business, I tried registering “visuals by Twitch” but that name got rejected by CAC and then after retrying, we got D-Twitch but now we are Polar Films and the company currently runs as Polar Films which is the mother company that will house a much larger business.
When it came to the gigs, The first music video I shot was for Burna Boy and Yonda in 2017. That same year, I was in Senegal and Davido called me to shoot a video for his label which was Aje. I did that in senegal. So far I’ve worked with quite a number of artists. I’ve worked with Falz, Burnaboy, Olamide, Dremo, Lil Kesh, Victor AD, Preto Show (angola), Perruzi, Mayorkun and more.
Can you name a few of the jobs you’ve done and artists you’ve done them for?
Wonder woman – Davido
Bumbum – Davido and Zlatan
Aje – Davido (DMW)
On God – (DMW)
Red Handed – Dremo, Mayorkun and Peruzzi.
Majesty – Peruzzi
Ringer – Dremo
Bigger meat – Dremo
Taya – Mayorkun, are some of them I can mention right away. There’s more of them in the pipeline to be put out soon.
Are you married? Do you have children?
I’m not yet married, no kids.
Tell us your hobbies and social interests
I really do not have the luxury of a hobby nowadays but I used to play basketball, I watch series, movies and a lot of videos when I make the time to. It always opens the eyes and feeds the imagination. I generally am an introvert and I don’t do a lot of going out. Since I really started full time in music video production, I have had little time for anything else. I spend a lot of my time traveling between locations, and making sure all pre-production requirements are in place. I spend any extra time I have getting educated/training in this business. there’s always something new to learn.
Where do you want to take this?
I really am about upgrading what the world expects from Nigerian music videos. With each project, I want to implement something different. Something better than I’ve done before. I want to challenge what we think is possible with music video production that’s where I’m taking this.
At what moment did you decide to be a music video producer?
After I rounded off my economics degree, my parents wanted me to go get a job in my field of study but I truly had other interests. Everyone kept feeling like they were doing you a favor because they were getting you a job but that’s not where my mind truly was.
Like I said, while in school, I had been playing around with video editing so when I graduated, I just kept training and taking any gigs I got (whether it paid little or not) basically because I wanted to keep doing and wanted to keep improving the level of work I could put out.
Can you go a bit more into the non-profit idea you shared earlier?
We really are trying to help people connect with this country and the continent of Africa through the stories of her people. Although we have several name ideas, we won’t unveil a name yet till we’re ready with a clear message.
As a music video director what’s your take on Nollywood?
I feel like nollywood has grown really fast within a short time frame.
We are all in the entertainment industry producing video content but Nollywood is about full-on movies and music videos are quite different from that. Movies have a longer project timeframe, bigger budget and serve a whole different purpose from music videos.
I applaud the Nollywood directors that are pushing the limits and doing things that haven’t been done ever before. Budgets have to be improved generally if we must match our peers at Hollywood and a lot more support has to be given to all video content producers. We all will keep doing our bit to drive the African narrative through entertaining content.
What exactly do you dislike about your industry?
First is a low level of collaboration among directors and producers. Unnecessary competition between music video directors when in fact we should be collaborating to improve the output of Nigerian music video content.
Besides that, a low level of support for our industry. When people think videos, they think movies. While that’s not a bad thing, we should also consider that music is one of the biggest means through which Nigeria exports culture and we video producers/directors are responsible for crafting the visuals that make this music more appealing.
Budget is always a conversation. Sometimes you finish a gig and have not very much to show for it in terms of profit but we keep it moving. The more I work, the luckier I’ll get. Lol.
We also aren’t evolving as fast as our counterparts in the US. In order to push myself, I have pushed to work with big international labels and trust me, it’s been a whole different experience. They have requirements that can be quite intimidating for a person who started out like me. This experience showed me we have a long way to go as an industry it also got me to up my game and to keep doing that. I have gone one to work on projects with Sony Music, Warner music and now working on a project with Universal music and I’ve had to learn really fast to meet their requirements. I’m happy this makes me push myself all the time.
Have you ever rejected a gig?
Yes I have rejected some gigs.
Why did you reject these gigs?
So this one time, an artist reached out saying he wanted to produce a music video with people twerking from the beginning to the end and that didn’t tie back to the music in any meaningful way. I tried to make him see a better angle but he wouldn’t bulge or listen. I had to decline that gig because it ultimately could be better that that. I have also rejected a gig based on budget constraints. When a client’s demand does not match the budget, we can improvise but sometimes people push it a bit too far. They over-expect while underpaying.
What would you say is your greatest skill set?
I’d say directing and video editing. I love cinematography but I’m not really about carrying cameras. I’d rather direct the video shoot and then sit to post production. I also play DOP and get to carry the camera sometimes but I’ll say directing and editing.
Who has been the biggest influences on your work?
Dave Meyers, Director x, Meji Alabi and quite a number of others.
How do you react to negative comments regarding you or your work?
I just laugh and walk away. I don’t even reply. Someone can be insulting you online and see you in person and be quite excited and come to hail you. If you don’t like me and you can’t say it to my face, then you really like. I don’t like to stress about it.
At this point in your career are you confident of your longevity?
Yes I think I am because I am educating myself and aiming for a new level both in the short and long run.
Is there any point you’ve seen your qualification come into play?
Yes yes it helps with the business side of this game. Video production is a business not just an art and when you come to the business side, you have to be on top of your game or you’ll frustrate your art. There’s a lot to the business side of every craft Including video production.
What have you observed about distribution of video content in Nigeria?
Our people don’t spend on distribution/promotion. If you spend x amount on content creation, you need to spend double on promotion. That’s what most artists and labels don’t get. You do great work, spend double your budget on distribution. Distribution is a key aspect of the growth you aim for as an artist.
For those who don’t know about your work and have only read through this, what videos would you recommend they look at to get a sense of your work?
Davido – Wonder Woman
Falz – loving
Peruzzi – majesty
There are some new videos that will come out in a bit as well
Where do you see yourself In 5 years?
We’ve only just started. In five years, my company should have moved the world’s expectation in the video content production landscape. We look to do movies too but not immediately. We’d like to have achieved specific landmarks in music video production before we venture that way and it really is happening fast.
What is your ultimate goal in life?
I have been helped in the process of my work. My goal is to help and grow as many people as possible even as I grow. I want to give back as much as I can.
Who were your idols growing up?
I really can’t remember having any idols so I won’t even try thinking. I definitely have admired a lot of people in different areas of life but can’t remember holding any idols to mind.
How would you like to be remembered as a video director?
As someone that took this game to another level?
What were the difficulties you encountered while growing up?
I was living with my mum and she was really strict and I generally didn’t get to socialize a lot. That in itself wasn’t too much of a problem because I was already an introvert but I also wanted to socialize a bit more.
If not video directing, what would it have been for you?
I think I would’ve been an economist actually because I generally did quite well at it.
What do you do before going out to shoot?
I do the normal checks with the team to ensure all plans have been executed. We check to ensure all equipment are available (there’s nothing as frustrating as not having equipment ready and on standby when you need them during a shoot). We also pray it doesn’t rain – rain is hardly a plus for your shoot. True It can work for you, but in most cases it disrupts the process.
What kind of advice do you have for up and coming video production people?
Pick up what you have and start doing the work it takes to learn. Pick up your phone and shoot something. Edit it, watermark it with your handle and put it up online. You have to keep doing and learning because when an opportunity comes, it is what you have done that you will show and it is what you can show that will win you the gig.