[spacer height=”20px”]Nigerian songstress Simi, born Simisola Ogunleye, won the Most Promising Act to watch at this year’s Nigerian Entertainment Awards (NEA). In this interview, the Mass Communication graduate of Covenant University speaks on her Afro-fusion style of music, fashion and her relationship with Adekunle Gold, and more.
Weekend Magazine: How did you get into music?
Simisola Ogunleye: My earliest foray into music was when I was about 13 or 14. I was in a music group in church called ‘Outstanding.’ We sang, danced and even rapped. I didn’t have a lot of music in my background or in my family, so I poured myself into this group because of how attached I felt to music. I released my first album, ‘Ogaju,’ which is gospel, in 2008. It was entirely produced by Samklef. It had songs like ‘Ara ile’ and ‘Ogaju’ in it. That was when I professionally started music.
WM: Can you share with us your very first experience performing before an audience?
Ogunleye: My very first performance was when I was eight; and in church. I had a solo in a song we were supposed to sing. I was nervous, but I was also very excited. Professionally though, I don’t remember my first performance.
WM: You have won a couple of awards. Which of them came as the biggest surprise to you and why?
Ogunleye: I doubt if any of them came as a surprise to me. If they did, it means I didn’t think I was good enough to win. They all made me very happy and grateful, but not surprised.
WM: Who has had the most influence on you music-wise and in what ways?
Ogunleye: I have been in the industry, albeit on different levels, for a pretty long time. So, I have come across so many people who have influenced my music in one way or the other. I can’t even exactly say one person has done the most. But recently, Oscar, my producer and music director, has definitely been the biggest influence on my music. He was very influential in helping me forge my sound and he keeps me in check and he has great ears for music. He never lets me settle. I love that about him.
WM: How would you describe your songs?
Ogunleye: I believe my songs make you feel things. People say I’m a storyteller, but I also like to pull on the strings of the emotions of people by being as relatable as possible.
WM: What are the things around you that influence your work?
Ogunleye: Everything inspires me – even the silliest things. I see something random happening and I connect to it. I read a lot and I see a lot so I open myself to letting them influence me so it’s easier for me to let people connect to it.
WM: Which has been the most difficult piece to put together and why?
Ogunleye: This is a difficult question. To be honest, some songs have been easier to write than others, and I have written quite a lot of songs, but I truly don’t think one has stood out in this regard. There may be, I just can’t think of it right now.
WM: Do you have a favourite of your songs? Which, if you do, and why that one?
Ogunleye: My favourite song isn’t out yet, but I love it because of how it makes me feel. Plus, it may change tomorrow anyway. That happens sometimes.
WM: What inspires your fashion sense?
Ogunleye: I’m laid back and I believe less is more. This definitely inspires how I dress.
WM: Who is your favourite designer?
Ogunleye: Forever 21.
WM: What are the three things you always carry on you?
Ogunleye: My phone, my laptop, my headphones.
WM: You also write. Is music killing that?
Ogunleye: You mean write something outside of music? I do have a blog and I haven’t had as much time for that, sadly, but I’m working on it.
WM: When you write your songs, what are the elements you like to feature in them?
Ogunleye: I love to infuse humour. I love to evoke emotion. I also love to make sure it’s as real and relatable as possible.
WM: You started off singing in church. But your songs don’t exactly reflect this. Did you exploit the church to get into the music industry?
Ogunleye: No, I didn’t. I don’t even see how this is a thing. I do music, in whatever capacity per time, because I’m crazy about it.
WM: You are said to be dating Adekunle Gold. Should fans be looking forward to your tying the nuptial knots soon?
Ogunleye: ‘You are said to be…’ they said. ‘No comment,’ I said. (Laughter)
WM: What project are you working on at the moment?
Ogunleye: It is a little hush hush for now, but I and another artiste have a surprise for everyone in the very nearest future.
WM: What should fans expect from you?
Ogunleye: All of me. I will make mistakes and I will follow my heart, but they can rest assured that I will do my best not to let them down. Also, they should expect great music. That’s the aim.