INTERVIEW: PSALM EBUBE TALKS MUSIC AND HOW KABIOSI MADE A TURN AROUND

Since his emergence on the music scene with his popular hit single kabio osi, Akinyemi Oluwaseun Samuel also known as Psalm Ebube has continued to prove that he has what it takes to take his music career to a meaningful level in the industry. The Mechanical Engineering graduate spoke with SEGUN ADEBAYO about his rise to fame, challenges of being a celebrity and other issues relating to his career. Excerpts:
In less than four years in the industry, your career appears to have been on the rise, what’s the chief ingredient your success?
God has been good to me, no doubt. In my journey from obscurity to some level of success, it’s been God. I have racked up a number of awards: Think Of You won the Best Soul & RnB Song, Nigerian Gospel Music Awards, 2012. It won the best International Album of the year, Gospel Music Awards, Italy in 2012. It was also honoured at the Men of Mordecai Awards, Detroit USA, 2012. KabioOsi was nominated as Best Gospel Music Video of the year at the Nigerian Music Video Awards, 2012 while it was also nominated as Artiste of the year, West Africa, Africa Gospel Music Awards, AGMA UK 2012. I have several other nominations such as: Discovery of the year, Kingdom Awards 2010, Best International Male Artiste GMA Awards Italy 2012, Best International Music Video (Think of You), GMA Awards 2012. Best International Song of the Year, Ebube, GMA Awards Italy 2012, Artiste of the Year AGMA, UK 2012. There is no other secret than God and God alone. He ordained me to do this and He has given me wisdom to write some really powerful songs most popular of them KabioOsi, I’m indeed privileged and I remain grateful to God. My secret is the spirit of God, nothing else.

Your song Kabiosi has been enjoying massive air play, did you ever think it could open a new chapter in your career?
KabioOsi is a testimony! When I was working on my first album I particularly asked God for a song which His people can praise Him with and the answer was KabioOsi. Of course I had no idea at the time that it would be this big a hit but then that’s what God can do as He is able to do much more than we can ask or imagine. So I had no idea it would open a new chapter in my life, but it’s a testimony and a privilege to contribute a song that people would forever use to praise God. I have received calls from different parts of the world where the song has gone and people love it.

The video was rated top ten on MTV; it must have cost you a lot to shoot. Could you give us the financial implication?
Wow! That video gulped a lot of money! First of all, when you spot a location to shoot a video in Nigeria and ask for permission to shoot a video there, they charge you outrageously. Abroad, they charge next to something and many times even give it to you for free. The owners of the bar we used to shoot Kabio Osi remix Video initially charged a quarter of a million naira just to use the place. Thank God, a good friend intervened and the price came down. But then working with a wonderful producer like MikkyMee and Director like Akin Alabi is not cheap. The logistics, the equipment, costumes and so many other things cost a lot of money too. No complains really as I see every expense to make all my videos as a sacrifice of praise to God. And I have been rewarded in many ways already; I expect a bigger harvest though from the video as I have sown a good seed. The concept of the video was simple and you know simple things are always beautiful, I guess that’s why it made the MTV Base Top 10. Doing excellent music videos are not cheap.

When did the journey into music start and where?
I have always loved music and it all began in my childhood. I joined the choir in my church at age 7 and that helped a whole lot. You know how it is, you have all these adults and elderly people and there is this young boy. I learned to sing and got my rudiments of music from that point. Several years down that path I got into the University to study Mechanical Engineering, but I didn’t abandon music, as a matter of fact, God enabled me pursue both on campus. I wrote songs on campus like I had been doing before university, and then an opportunity came during a concert organised by Joint Christian Fellowship (JCF). I taught the choir a song I had written and I ministered that song with the choir as backup and the response after that ministration was amazing. Messages kept pouring in and people kept telling me how blessed they were by that ministration. That was my ‘burning bush’ experience like Moses in The Bible and that was how I knew music was my life assignment. When I graduated, I still pursued a career in Mechanical Engineering but on the side I wrote jingles for several advertising campaigns and did a bit of modelling for two years before releasing several singles and then my album.

You have put in a lot of efforts into your career over the years, why did it take it so long before you could be heard and known?
It didn’t take me long, and it is by the grace of God as that in itself is a miracle. I entered the gospel music industry and in less than two years, songs like Ebube, Think Of You, and Kabio Osi have become hits. It is all by the grace of God and I return all the glory to Him who has made the journey a worthwhile one. Of course, I had been working really hard before I came into the industry, honing my skill but the Grace of God is a game-changer. I believe The Bible and Proverbs 18: 16 says ‘A gift opens the way and ushers the giver into the presence of the great’. That’s what my story.  God gives you a gift and gives you grace to nurture that gift and refine it until he is ready to showcase you to the world.

Psalm Ebube, what does that name mean?
(Laughs) my name is Akinyemi Oluwasesan Samuel. Psalm alone was my stage name at the beginning, then the song Ebube became a hit and so people put the two together and began referring to me as Psalm Ebube, so I adopted the name. It’s a really cool name, really creative. I love the name, fans love the name, and I feel blessed. It is weird though because people think I’m Igbo, then they are shocked when they get to know I am Yoruba. My tribe doesn’t matter, God has broken the partition of ethnic barriers through the blood of Jesus, and it is our responsibility as artistes in the creative industry to promote unity and peace

Now that you have risen to a meaningful level, what are you doing to stay on top of your game and do you think you can manage your sudden rise?
There is still so much to be done and I have only begun. I can’t say because Kabio Osi is sung everywhere that I have arrived. No, in fact this musical career which I see as a journey with God has just begun. I have just released my video album (KabioOsi Da Videos), I am already back in the studio recording another album and I am already witnessing miracles during my studio sessions. There is so much ahead and I have to keep being focused, and keep being connected to the Most High God

Why the choice of gospel music?
The reason is simple, music is my life assignment, and it is more than a career to me. God inspired me and set me on a mission to change lives through music. It has always been my desire to write songs with which people can praise God and magnify His name. So, the choice of gospel music was automatic. I haven’t had cause to regret the decision.

Rising to fame is one thing, maintaining the momentum is another thing, are you sure you won’t derail?
Perhaps, if I had gone into the music of my own free will, I’d be worried about derailing or regressing, but God called me to do this. As long as I stay connected to The Holy Spirit, then I won’t derail. God is my source, he is my secret so I must remain faithful. You continue to reign as far as God is involved. I have a promise in The Bible which I’m holding on to, which says: Faithful is He that called you, faithful is He that would do it.’ The Bible also says that the glory of the latter would be better than the former and that means that the best is yet to come for Psalm Ebube. Already I’m excited about my next album. The songs I have recorded so far have been impressive. My producer MickkyMee, has also been of great help and I can assure you that when the album is finally released, several other hits would emerge from it and God would be glorified.

But we have seen some of your colleagues who have derailed abysmally over the years, what would you do differently?
Wake up every morning, and strive for improvement in every facet of my life; my relationship with God, my relationship with other people, my music, my relationship with my fans; an all-round improvement on a daily basis. I have also been blessed to have a dynamic team behind me, which is made up of people who understand the music industry. Together we can achieve so much more. Working in a team makes you stronger than working alone and pretending to be a ‘know-it-all’ when you don’t know anything.

When your parents discovered you had the penchant for music, did they try to stop you?
No, the opposite was the case. I had loving parents who recognised my gift very early and did the best thing any parent can do for a child: give formal education and spiritual guidance while being exemplary themselves. I was in a choir as early as when I was 7, I went through the school systems up to the university when I was on campus, I knew I was going to do music professionally, yet I didn’t abandon education. I graduated as a Mechanical Engineer and after graduation, I pursued both education and music. Education is very important and my parents were glad I didn’t abandon one for the other.

Did you try your to put into practise what you studied in school?
After searching for work for a while, writing jingles for some advertising campaigns and modelling, I went abroad for more training in my mechanical engineering field and on return, got a job with a company and went into gospel music. My parents have been very supportive in all these pursuits and I am grateful to God for such a loving father and mother I have. It’s all in the decision you make. For Psalm Ebube, when I decided to do music, it was a decision based on a divine call and that’s stronger than ambition alone. It hasn’t been smooth all the way but God has seen me through so far.

Some celebrities see girls as a threat to their career while some see them as a blessing, how would you rate female admirers who are constantly throwing advances at you and to what extent do you think they can make or mar your career?
My fan base is made up of both male and females of several age brackets because of the way my songs are. I think that relating with fans is very important because if there are no fans, you cannot be successful as an artiste. But wisdom should guide you in whatever a person does; it is the same for me. My fans are an encouragement. To travel around and see the way people receive you and receive your music is very humbling. This inspires me and I cannot and should not take advantage of these people in a canal way. My female fans are my sisters and my mothers (laughs), it sounds weird , the truth is that ladies are no threat to my career, but a blessing.

Is it true that Psalm Ebube likes women?
It is sad that society has decided to objectify women in several ways. Inside every woman lies a lot of potential. This is why we must educate our girls. It is sad that we look at female children as inferior to having a male child. This is not right. Our women are really important because they play very important roles right from the home as our wives, sisters and mothers to the society where they can be an asset in the workplace and even lead if given the opportunity. I think that Africa as a continent can even get better if we begin to see potential in our women and nurture that potential. My female fans are my Sisters and my mothers, as I said earlier.

What did it cost you to feature Midnight crew in your album?
Nothing! Midnight Crew are very good friends of mine. It’s the favour of God really. I was blessed to meet Sola King very early in my career and when I wrote KabioOsi, I sensed that Midnight Crew would easily blend into it and give it more life. Patricia Uwaje-King’s vocal texture could easily match mine and blend, Mike Abdul could add the spice of fuji to it, and altogether we would have an interesting traditional praise song. So, I spoke to Sola King about it and he talked to his wife about me and that was it. Midnight Crew and I have developed a friendship from there on, and it has been a pleasure all the way, working for them.

Some people believe you are one of the youngest richest gospel in the country today, what’s your take?
There’s more to wealth than money. If they say I am, fine I claim it (laughs), if they say I’m not fine, no problem. I see wealth beyond money. Money is a means of exchange on the earth, the real wealth lies in value and the value in my case in the music. So if I keep increasing the quality of my music in production and in content, the value keeps increasing, if the value keeps increasing, monetary rewards would keep coming. The bigger picture though is that what I do is ministry and this is a mission to get people to praise God in an excellent way.

Are you saying the song did not fetch you money or your marketer did not play his role well?
I have good marketers, and I’m not going to say my songs haven’t fetched me money, that would be a lie. But then you know that the way our country is, distribution of music is an issue and piracy is a problem. So in the end an artiste makes less than what he should make because of the way the industry is. However all that is changing, people are now more sensitive about these issues and we artistes are playing our part. However more than money, my music has opened the door to the hearts and homes of several people and I feel fulfilled.

What’s your plan for the future?
I have something I’m working on as a personal project because there’s life after music. It’s something under wraps right now but in due time it would be revealed.
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