I quit music to upgrade myself, now I’m back -Alex O

Having produced several hits and crowned Nigerian king of pop music, Alex Oguguo Okoroigwe popularly known as Alex O suddenly disappeared from the scene.

Now he’s back, and in this interview, narrated to Sunday Sun the tales of his musical exploits, exit from the stage, and his return after touring the world. 

Here are excerpts:

You started your music journey quite early in life, what propelled it? 

I’ve always loved music and wanted to go into it right from when I was a little boy. I can say that I inherited music from my father who played keyboards in the church. I had and still have great passion for music. I was part of my primary school band and very active musically in the secondary school. I was always running to the professional musicians who were close to our school, with my pocket money, to produce demo tapes of my songs. I would then sneak out from the boarding house and take the tapes to Lagos, in search of a recording deal. So, after my secondary education, the opportunities came and I wasted no time in taking them.Ezoic

Was it the experience that propelled you into recording albums or did you get any musical training from somewhere? 

Yes, as a singer, the late Steve Rhodes, one of the greatest musicologists in Nigeria, trained me. After my training, I was with his company, Fiesta Production for quite some time, watching and learning from his daughters, Gloria and Jeanette Rhodes. They were so good and had beautiful voices. After learning so much from them, I started performing along with them. This strengthened me and gave me better knowledge of what to do. It was a great experience. And then in 1986, Lemmy Jackson signed me to his music label. 

Before I started album recording, I was working with Lemmy Jackson during his studio sessions, working as a backup singer for the artistes he produced, and learning how he was doing his job as the great producer that he was. I learned as much as possible while working with him. This helped me to develop better as a music composer, writer, arranger and producer.EzoicEzoic

Many wonder why at the peak of your career, having made several hits and crowned the Nigerian king of pop music, you suddenly disappeared from the scene.

Yes, my career in music peaked, but there was no money coming in. The industry was going through a difficult phase at that time, and I needed to find a way to support and upgrade myself, and if possible, acquire some new skills, study etc., in preparation for the possible challenges that would come in the future. I was having music performances across European and South East Asian countries. I never left music. The only thing I was not doing then was releasing new songs. In between, I studied Film, Video and Animation Production before returning to Nigeria. I am back now, and I have repositioned myself for the journey ahead, both in life and in the industry. While I am still into music, I am also into film, music videos, soundtracks and animation production.

Now, on your return, how do you see the progress recorded between what you and your contemporaries started, and what we currently have in the music industry?

Technology and time has changed everything, and the younger ones have been able to take advantage of it to do great things. This is positive, and we are grateful to God for it. Things were very difficult during our days. You were given only six to eight studio sessions of eight hours each, to produce a full album of eight to 10 songs. You must make it work, if not, you were in trouble. Also, to promote your songs, you needed to physically travel to each radio and TV station, newspaper house and night club in the country, give them your songs and promo materials before your songs will start spreading and trending. It’s unlike today when you can reach everybody and every establishment from your phone or laptop. Sometimes, when I look back and think about the things we were able to achieve then, I believe that God came through for us.

In your days, lyrics and messages mattered but today it feels different. Do you think the musicians of today are passing across the right message through their songs?

Some of them, yes, and some others, not really; but I will not be the judge to approve or condemn what people are doing. Different people have different mindsets and ways to go about what they are doing. For a lot of them, it’s pure entertainment, and for some, it’s more about the morals and making the society a better place for us all. Age and wisdom also have a role to play.

The new generation of musicians has taken Nigerian Afrobeats to international level. You have two new singles out, Munachi and Take a Break, how do you hope to fit in with the current flow of music?

The market is larger now, and can contain everybody. Once your music is great, and the things you are saying are making sense to a lot of people, you are in. Good music is good music any day. Munachi is about focusing on the great things you want to achieve, not giving up because of the temporary challenges and setbacks one faces each day, and keeping on moving. Take a Break is about making sure that, even in the middle of the hard work that we do, we must find some time to relax and enjoy our lives. We don’t live forever.Ezoic

What’s the possibility of reconnecting with your old fans and the younger crowd of music lovers? 

Yes, that’s the whole idea… It’s about reconnecting with my older fans and connecting with the younger ones. As long as the music appeals to both groups, that’s okay for me. So far, we have been getting positive responses for the new singles we just released, from both the younger and the older ones. 

With your wealth of experience as a music producer, songwriter and singer, what are your plans to mentor younger musicians? 

It’s part of what’s in the plan. I have written so many songs. I still write new ones. They will be handy, once my music label gets up and running. We will sign the younger and talented ones, groom them, produce, promote and market them. This is more so, now that our music is out there in the world.

What’s the message to your fans all over the world?

First, I want to thank them for the support they have been giving me. For it, I am very grateful. Also, let us all try and keep doing whatever it will take to make the world a better and more peaceful place. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *