Thursday, 28 April 2011

Spesh Yahya interviews Sauti2Soul

“But someone has to stand up and make that change happen, ‘cos even if we criticize it or not, the ones we have out there are representing you as a northerner; and each and every one of us isn’t happy with that.” – Sauti2Soul {Awal Abubakar Aliyu}

Awal Abdulkadir Aliyu, known as ‘Sauti2soul’ by his friends and fans alike, really defies pigeon-holing, he is what we may call a ‘freelancer’ though that doesn’t quite cut it. He's into radio, {day job with Quest Media’s Vision FM 92.1}, real estate amongst other things. . . The main passion of this recently married Education/Banking and Finance graduate, however, is driving the music industry to new destinations. Farida ‘Spesh’ Yahya, recently caught up with Awal so sit back and enjoy this free flowing chat with the man behind the new wind blowing through northern Nigeria;

Spesh: Can you tell us who Awal Abdulkadir Aliyu is?

Awal: Well, I'm just a regular guy! I'm from Azare, Village in Bauchi State, Katagum LGA. But I never schooled in Bauchi because my dad was a civil servant, so we were moving from one place to another . . .I'm a media person, into real estate, and so many other things.

Spesh: What drives you?

Awal: Quality! A passion to succeed, and to make things happen. Music is my passion and it drives me. . .

Spesh: Knowing how the entertainment industry is like in the north {Nigeria}, where do you think the problem lies?

Awal: I believe the major problem is the religion/culture issue. Unfortunately, music is not seen as a noble profession in the core north, and that now creates a huge gap in the music industry. Also, I think the quality of what you put out there determines how people will view you and take you seriously or not.

Spesh: So, after bringing up the whole culture/religion issue, where do you hope to draw the line? Because there will definitely be a group that will be like: “‘These people’ {musical artistes} are not ‘serious’?”

Awal: Your content. At least, your content should matter. Personally, I wouldn’t sing about women and objectifying women. Rather, you talk about burning issues; talk about marriage, talk about life's challenges and all. Like most of my songs are three parts; first I lay out everything, then I say what I think the problem is, and lastly I try to proffer a solution to the problem.
You could still do a dance track with a burning issue. Like, we have a song we are doing right now that’s going to be called "Shatara" - we are taking it to the grassroots, and being really crude. It’s going to be a {thought} provoking song discussing the current economic situation. We are not trying to insult anyone, but if you listen to it, and your doing something bad, and you get offended, then yeah; good God, you should be...and the way we want to do the video, we are going to use local people, and its going to be nice and you should look forward to it.

Spesh: After listening to your songs, I have said, it’s a fraud that you’ve kept it away from the people so long. So, what are you doing about it now?

Awal: Well, suddenly, I'm about to do something. You know, coming from the north, and from the core north, it’s not easy to wake up and just say you want to do music. I still don’t see myself as an artiste, but a lot people have said that my songs are good, so I will like to avoid to use the word ‘amateur’. I'm not an amateur. I have worked with a lot of professionals on my songs, so my songs are very professional. I’ve worked with some of the best producers in the country; some of them are not even in the country right now. I used to do music for fun ‘cos I'm into Media and so a lot of my friends have studios, and so I just walk into their studio, and burn songs and then give to some of my friends and family folks to bump in their cars. But, so many people are like ‘these songs are good, you should do something’, and I decided to give it a shot.
I have like 18 finished songs, and about 5 or 6 that are unfinished. I tried to make the content "clean”, it’s something you will like your daughter to listen to, your kid brother, and your mum and you wouldn’t feel like it’s not good {for them}. There’s just something for everyone.

Spesh: How did you get into the Media, knowing you are more of a scientist?

Awal: I have always had a passion for the Media! I think if your have a flair for something, it just flows naturally, and you know in Nigeria, you don’t have to do what you read. So, a friend of mine used to work in radio, so I was like, “I think I can do this" and I auditioned and the boss was like, “you’re good but you should know there’s no money in media" and all that. But that’s how it all started. Media has always been something I wanted to do, even though I didn’t read it professionally. Even right from school, I’ve been an artistic person; I’ve written a couple of poems, I don’t know where they are right now. I used to keep a diary, and I really love rhymes.

Spesh: Can you tell us some of the producers you've worked with?

Awal: I've worked with Dr Bengtine, Mr Seth, and a lot them are really huge right now . . . worked with almost everybody in the entertainment industry. Yisheng Garba; he's tight, and really good. He’s a genius. Tommy Shields; KD Worlds Records, he's really really good.....and one thing I’ve got good going for me is that I work with two or more producers on a song. Like if I wanna do hip-hop, and they are like Tommy will know the garaya thingy, and then, Garba, who did bakon lahira. So many others. Because I know what each has unique, and what I really want, I try to also get involved in the production. You know, even writing my songs sometimes, especially when it comes to Hausa, I try to get people that are really good with that, like Ibrahim helps me to write it well, and how I can re-phrase it.

Spesh: Listening to you talk about music, it’s like you sleep and dream it. But how do you decide what to sing about?

Awal: Well, something has to trigger, or a situation, and I'm like; ‘people should know this, this will make a good song!’, and that makes you wanna sing about it. Or you walk into the studio and there's something playing, and you’re like, “this will make a good song". But most times, I have a beat in my head for like weeks, and then I finally go into the studio, and get the violin, because I really love violins, and the bass, and then after recording the beats, I take it home, and there the words just shout at me. Like the song, "Please Don’t Say", I was just driving home, with the beats in my head, and the words kept coming to me, and I decided to write it out as a song.

Spesh: What’s this whole movement going to be like? Are you going to meet people one-on-one, or have, like, an organization?

Awal: Yea, there's a standard. We really need to come up ‘cos we are really really behind. And as an artiste, there are so many people that are gonna make you who you are; you need your manager, and sometimes even a songwriter. It’s teamwork really. So, anyone that’s interested should really get on this wagon. I know a lot the Hausa artiste; I know Yakubu Ahmed, I know Sani Danja, I've met Ali Nuhu. I also love Baba Ari, and I’ve spoken to him about this, and he was like "Dude, anytime!" I've also spoken to El-Faruk; he's a producer in the industry, and we've exchanged ideas and they all wanna do this. But someone has to stand up and make that change happen, ‘cos even if we criticize it or not, the ones we have out there are representing you as a northerner; and each and every one of us isn’t happy with that. I look at some of these things, and it just breaks my heart to see that these movies don’t really talk about the issues in the north, and since the music is here to stay, its not going anywhere, then we might as well just embrace it and accept it.

Spesh: Any last words you wanna share? To the youth and about the Movement?

Awal: I think if we come in as educated and cultured as we are, then maybe, some of our people will let their daughters from decent homes do this, and see it as a decent and noble profession. The advice for the youth is that they should believe in themselves, and have faith. You know what they say, "Faith can move mountains"; so we just might move a mountain. But with the movement, I want to release my first album soon, and then maybe a second, but I will definitely not do a third, because then, the standard will have been set. then, I’ll be more into production, to help bring up more young artiste into the industry..

Spesh: I think we are done here. Thanks a lot Awal for your time.

Awal: It’s been my pleasure, Spesh, thank you!

Spesh Yahya blogs at