MUSIC THAT MAKES US: DELE

This week’s interview was with Bamidele, a young Scriptwriter who talks to me about family, personal identity and worship through music

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Name: Bamidele

Age: 22

Nationality: British-Nigerian

Occupation: Scriptwriter/Photographer

What kind of script-writing/photography projects are you currently working on?

Projects that are based on Nigerian identity. I’ve been working on a few here and there and just wrapped up one. One is a series production that is particularly centered on one of the main tribes of Nigeria: Igbo. The other projects aim to branch outside of Nigeria itself.

What are your plans for the next year? 

Not really. Not yet, I’m just taking each day as it comes and pacing myself. First I have to find out what it is that I really want to do and where I really want to be. Once I know that? I’ll plan.

If money were no object what would you be doing?

I would be doing what I am doing right now because I enjoy it, so regardless of the money factor, I would continue in it. Certainly and wholeheartedly.

Is music important to you?

Music is very important to me because it was – and still is – a big part of my family life. Growing up, on weekends my father used to play his records of Otis Reading, Al Green, Etta James, Aretha Franklin and more very loudly whilst we cleaned the house or ate breakfast. In that way music became a tradition and gradually, as we practiced this tradition so often, it became part of our culture. So music is as important to me as my culture.

I listen to music every day; if I’m not listening to it I’m singing. Every moment that I spend alone I spend with music.

It impacts my life in the sense that music speaks to me and sometimes controls my mood. I listen to some songs because they were part of my childhood so they are more or less a part of me. I find different genres of music remind me of different things.

You mention the music that your dad would play whilst you were growing up. Can you remember the first music that you properly listened to?

Yes! ‘Lean On Me’ by Bill Withers. That song means so much to me, words can’t explain. As a child, my dad and brother were my first best friends, most especially my dad. I used to have insecurities that made me shy so my dad would tell me stories about his childhood and sing ‘Lean on Me’ as I fell asleep. That’s the best way I can describe what that song means to me.

So would you say that music has shaped your self-confidence in a way?

Definitely.

Moving from past to present, what are you listening to at the moment?

A bit of everything but mostly Gospel, Afrobeat and R&B music because those are the genres of music that I relate to the most.

In terms of Gospel music, I’m listening to: Israel Houghton, Cece Winans, Travis Greene, Fred Hammond, Sonnie Badu and Donnie MCclurkin.

R&B: Trey Songz, Chris Brown, August Alsina, Tyrese, K.Michelle.

and Afrobeat: Patoranking, 2face, Omawunmi, Falz, Olamide.

Just to name a few!

In what way do you relate to those music genres more than others?

I relate to Afrobeat music because it’s part of my culture, the artists speak my language; the lyrics and the beat take me back home.

Gospel music is like a form of prayer. I’m a Christian and sometimes when my mouth can’t seem to articulate the words to pray, or my heart is heavy, I find that by singing I can worship and praise God. I feel it’s my connection to God.

I listen to R&B to keep me grounded.

How to you tend to listen to music?

I’ll play it loudly on my MP3. I can listen to my music all at once or by genre for when I’m feeling like listening to a certain one.

Can you describe how you connect with music?

It depends on the genre as to which element I’ll focus on. If I’m listening to Afrobeat music, for instance, I listen for the bass and the beat. Music has been a part of Nigeria’s history long before she got her independence and the origin of the talking drum can be traced back to their use for invoking deities. A certain kind of beat in Afrobeat can also be dated back to types of traditional dance, such as the Bata, so hearing the beat in Afrobeat music makes me dance and thus pay homage to my culture.

With Gospel music it’s the lyrics that I pay attention to. The lyrics need to be strong because they are prayers in song-form.

Do you play any instruments?

My brother plays the sax and my uncle plays the piano. Does that count?!

Now for some trickier questions. Name three songs that changed your life significantly.

Picking one song from each of my favourite genres I’d say:

‘Lean on Me’ – Bill Withers

‘Desperate People’ – Micah Stampley

‘Raindrops’ – 2face Idibia

Describe your current mood with a song or song lyrics.

Oh wow. Okay you’re getting mean! I’d say these lyrics from ‘’You Keep Me’ by Travis Greene feat. K.J. Scriven describe my mood well:

“You keep me, never let go,

you keep me safe in your arms, no danger or harm.

No weapon formed, shall prosper no,

safe in your arms and you keep on keeping me’

To be honest I have been through so much these past few years, and that song just says it all. I feel like every time I fell, I was caught. God keeps keeping me, despite my flaws.

Describe in a sentence what music means to you.

Music means life; music means new chances; music means dreams.


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