Is it right to describe 2012 as your comeback year?
I think that will be a fair assessment because prior to 2012, l had some level of hiatus locally for about two and a half years. Last year, I redefined my brand and it was very refreshing to test the waters and reaffirm that the brand is still so much in demand. It was a year that defined the second phase of my career and I see myself as starting over again.
What do you mean by ‘the second phase’ of your career?
The first phase lasted for about 14 years. Then, Olu Maintain evolved from Maintain, the group, to Olu Maintain, the solo artiste that has seen it all and done it all. When you are in that state of mind where psychologically, you see yourself not being challenged any longer, it becomes difficult to have the hunger to do more. That was why in 2012, I decided to try another genre of music; another image and path in my career. I was overwhelmed that it worked. That has inspired me to look at myself as one who has given enough to the industry and who has more to offer. Therefore, it is a new beginning, another phase of the journey for me.
Why did you choose to be active only internationally in the last two and a half years?
That was not by choice. If I give you a rundown of my activities since the Yahooze album dropped in 2007, it is remarkable to see how quickly time flies. After the album was released in May 2007, I was on tour in Nigeria from that time until 2008 when I came up with the Kamakazi video. In 2009, I toured America for the first time and I visited 35 states. In 2010, I toured almost all the countries in Europe and in 2011, I started recording again. In September 2011, the Nawti audio was released and in January 2012, the video came out and the rest is history. Therefore, there was no time I sat down doing nothing.
You mean the emergence of new artistes in the industry did not force you to beat a retreat and restrategise?
I see the Nigerian music industry as one that is saturated but very uncompetitive. How do I explain an Olu Maintain that has been quiet for some years and only for him to come out with a music video in 2012? This is unarguably the best video in the country ever. That means that I saw what a lot that people were not doing and I capitalised on it. The industry is growing but it is not developing.
Why did you have to do a collabo with foreign artistes, is it that you cannot hold it down on your own?
To start with, the collabo between Olivia and I was purely circumstantial, it was not by choice. I met her at an industry party in Los Angeles by the producer of the Nawti video, Naomi Smith and we took it from there— courtesy her producer, Jerry Wonder. He is one of the best hands in the industry in America. That was how the track ‘Hypnotise me’ was born and Jerry wonder also facilitated my collaboration with Fatman Scoop, an American hip-hop star. So, my collaborations were circumstantial and as a result of me being at the right place at the right time. It was not something I set out to do or part of my agenda.
Having watched the Nawti video, it is very hard to believe there was no sexual chemistry between you and the video vixen
No comment but the beauty about my personality is that I can be overwhelming because I have a persuasive and likable personality. When I work with anybody, I like to establish a relationship outside work.
You raised the bar for yourself with Yahooze; do you think you can match that?
I am not going to match it, I will surpass it. Living up to it is not an achievement but surpassing it is the beginning of achievement. A DJ once told me that the only competition I have is me.
With your years of absence, don’t you think you have lost your place in the industry especially with the emergence of young artistes?
The truth about it is that the industry is my wife, I am married to it. I know what to tell my wife anytime I feel like making love to her. Other people are dating the industry and because I am married to it, I understand her language so I can make her dance to my tune when I so desire. You just wait and see what my new album. It is a ten tracker and each letter stands for a song.
Is there a possibility of Maintain regrouping?
Nature has a funny way of taking its natural course; I would not deem anything impossible. If it is nature’s calling and if God says we would come back, who am I to say no? But for the next four quarters, I already have my plans defined and if Maintain is going to do something, it will have to be in the future and not this year.
When will marriage come?
Olu Maintain has come of age; I am closer to 40 now, single and with no child. Before now, my career has been my wife and companion and that makes it necessary for me to start prioritising. It will be a safe assumption now to say I am seeking for something that is missing in my life. There is no woman in my life now but I am working towards it. I just want my woman to love me and love what I do. I am not attaching any physical attributes to it because that eventually will go away. It’s better to fall in love with someone because that lasts forever. My parents have been married for 43 years.
Apart from music, do you do other things?
Yes. How do you think I have sustained my lavish lifestyle? That is why people attribute my lifestyle to all sorts of negative things. What they don’t know is that I surround myself with friends that are not in my industry and that shows I have been able to sustain my fortune. I respect my colleagues but I don’t have any close friend in the industry. My best friend is a chartered accountant and a bank manager.
Don’t you think your lifestyle is too loud?
It is a part of me. I still like to blow, shine, stand out in a crowd and that is with some level of affluence. Besides, it is required for my profession. For instance, when I dress, I do loud colours and really that is just my person, and being an entertainer makes it mandatory for me to be flashy. I like to glow, bling and dress flamboyantly because I am not a conservative in any way.
I read somewhere you still live in a rented apartment…
It is false because I have tenants. How can I be collecting rent and still live in a rented apartment? By the special grace of God, I own the place where we are having this interview and many more.
So how much is Olu worth?
Olu will be rich for the rest of his life and that is by default. I cannot go broke for the next generation to come. I have planted enough for my next generation to benefit from. That is as a result of being prudent and making wise decisions in my choice of investments and circle of friends.
The Nawti video for instance cost a lot of money. It is the only Nigerian video that has 16 looks. Most Nigerian videos have four or five, which costs an average of $20,000 or $25,000 . So for a 16-look video, do the arithmetic.
How do you relax when you are not making music?
I love to stay in my home. I do not drink, smoke, or go clubbing. I only club when I am being hosted. I watch TV and I like to travel also. My persona is a completely misunderstood one. Contrary to what people think, I am a very warm person. I am Cancerian. so naturally I have a large heart and that is misinterpreted because I am an artiste.
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