This week we’re featuring Afro-fusion musician, Kizz Ernie. In his interview, he tells us about how he got into music, his creative process creating his EP ‘Kiyagi’, and the many challenges he has faced as a young musician/artiste. Check out his interview below.
Tell me about your music journey? How did it all start? When did you know that you wanted to go into music?
Music started for me, right from my early years, my parents are big music enthusiasts, so it really influenced my childhood. I started playing the piano at 5, joined the adult choir in the church at 7, and started writing my own songs in high school when I was 1.1 So yeah, I’ve been doing this for the longest , but officially , I’d say I took music as a career in 2017 right after I was done with University.
Did your parents support you from the onset when you told them you wanted to be a full-time musician?
As much as my parents loved music and majorly influenced my decision, they didn’t support me at first, but right now they’re fully supportive in every aspect.
What would you call your style of music? What inspires or influences that style?
I’d call my style of music , Afro-fusion and Afro vibes, because it’s just pure vibes and a mixture of original African music and western music joined together. It’s highly inspired by my life, my day to day activities and whatever I’m going through at any point in my life.
What’s your creative process? And how do you get yourself in the mood to make music on the days that you’re not motivated to create?
Fun fact. I create and record 90% of my music in my room, and my creative process depends on my mood to be honest. Sometimes I write before I make the beats, other times I’m writing as I’m making the beat, but most of my songs are recorded at night, because I’m never sleeping lmao. I don’t really force myself to create anything if I’m not in the mood. I don’t force it. I’ll just listen to music and feel the vibes, maybe I might just get inspired, maybe not.
Take me through the process of creating your EP Kiyagi, how did that come about? How did you decide on the name?
Hmmm KIYAGI was a surprise EP as we all know. There was no pre-hype or information about the EP. I just woke up and decided to drop an EP, and titled it Kiyagi. Kiyagi is my alter ego and it’s one of the sides of Kizz Ernie people don’t get to see often, so that’s how the EP title came about. The songs on the EP were recorded at different times. I recorded “Your Man” in march 2019. I remembered I recorded 2 songs on this day; Jeje ft Dapo Tuburna. In August 2019 I made the beat and recorded it in my room and I knew I wanted to put Dapo on it, so I immediately hit him up and we linked like a week after at my guys birthday, and he recorded his verse there and then.
It was the first time he ever heard the record (shouts out to Dapo Tuburna). One of the few real ones I’ve met in this industry. ‘My Way’ was the last song that was recorded on the 31st of December 2019, because I was super emotional on that day. 2019 had been an amazing year and I only wanted more in 2020, so “My way “ was my prayer and hope for 2020. Then Gucci ft Marv OTM was recorded in June 2018 right after my debut EP “Pressure” dropped. (Shouts out to the producer Marvin). He A&R’d the song as well, recorded it sent it to him to listen. He then said Marv OTM would kill his verse on this then he sent the song to Marv and I got the verse back in less than a week .
Remember the very first time you performed for a live audience? When was that? How was it? How did that feel?
I really can’t remember my first ever performance, because I’ve been performing from time. I had joined the adult choir as a kid and there were times I had to lead the choir’s presentation, because as the only kid in the adult choir, they wanted to always show off my talent. I also performed a lot of times in high school right from my first year, I used to mime, MI, Lil Wayne and Wizkid songs during social events.
My most memorable performances, (because I have 2 I hold the memory close to my heart), is BU fest 2016. I got on stage and the crowd went wild. It wasn’t for long because they had to shut down my performance. The second one was last year (2019). I went on a uni tour with LAX to Pan Atlantic Uni and I performed an unreleased song and the reception was crazy. You must really have a lot of mind to perform an unreleased song to people who were probably just meeting /knowing you for the first time. So yeah these 2 performances are so dear to me, I still got videos of both of them .
What’s an assumption that people make about you that isn’t true?
A lot of people say “I’m a proud person”, but I’m not. I’m really just a shy person and I like to be alone most of the time, so I might come off as unfriendly or arrogant. I’m really not. I’m just anti-social. Which is crazy because at some point in my life I was a very social and interactive person but I guess change is constant…so yeah right now I just love to keep to myself and my circle.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced as a young Nigerian creative?
As a young creator in Nigeria, you face a lot of challenges, I’m not gonna lie. A couple challenges I’ve faced go from, low access to equipment to help your creativity. Like coming up wasn’t easy. I didn’t have access to the studio at my disposal, so anytime I wanted to record, I’d basically just go with my guys then all of us would contribute money to pay for studio time, so you’d have to be fully ready so you’re not wasting time and money.
Also lack of support in the early stage of my career. That stigma that comes with being an “upcoming artist”, people look at you like you don’t have a future, why’re you doing music and all that. Not to sound like I’m bragging but I’m doing and living better than half the people who looked at me this way when I started. It’s crazy. A lot of upcoming artist face that stigma, especially from people who are supposedly “holier than thou”. A major challenge is funds. People don’t understand, but every successful artist will tell you that, being a successful artist is not all about the talent. You have to be financially strong to back up that talent and hard work.
The beats aren’t free, you don’t shoot videos for free, you can’t promote/market your music for free, you gotta pay TV stations, radio stations to have a spot on their platforms. That’s a major challenge young creatives especially independent creatives face and I face that as well, because I’m fully independent. I found my music myself so I know how it feels. That’s one of the reasons I started making beats and producing my own music , because I couldn’t afford the producer I used to work with at that time because he got signed. So these are a couple challenges I’ve faced as a young creative in Nigeria. But it builds character to be honest, if you can make it in Lagos, Nigeria, you can make it anywhere in the world.
What’s the most memorable thing that has happened to you in your music career?
I’ve had a couple memorable experiences in my career so there isn’t just one topping it and there are a lot more i.e. Meeting Burna Boy (who I look up to a lot ), to getting a co-sign from Patoranking and Zlatan. Zlatan’s own shocked me the most because I did a cover to his song. I woke up and I posted it at 6am. I wasn’t even expecting him or a lot of people to see it. Then in like an hour I saw Zlatan’s comment on the post. He then followed me and sent a DM.
I was too gassed to even reply. I had to literally type “my hands dey shake” and he’s a real one. He’s been showing me love since then, posting my music on his page. Big shouts to Zlatan. Also when my debut EP “Pressure” Peaked at number 10 on the top 10 albums chart on Apple Music, just a day after its release, I didn’t expect that at all. I expected it to do well but it went beyond my expectations, especially because there was no financial backing behind it. It was purely organic and I appreciate my listeners a lot for that .
Who are some young musicians that you admire and would like to collaborate with?
I’ve worked with a couple young musicians and producers too (I can’t leave my producer guys out of this ). I love their music and admire their craft a lot from their steaze, to their flows. It’s a long list anyways. From David Meli , to Laime , to Psycho YP , Nissi ,Santi , Rema, Lady Donli , Marv OTM , Trill Xoe , Fasina , Minz , FaveSZN , Tems , Bella, Apex Village. All amazing talents. I’ve worked with some of them and I’d love to work with the rest of them that I haven’t worked with yet.
What are you currently working on? What’s next for you?
I’m currently working on a lot. Got a new body of work in the works. Also got an animation project in the works as well. Some collaborations in the works as well , and I’m working on a couple visuals for my next set of releases, so yeah , my team and I are not sleeping.
Are you just solely doing music or do you do anything else on the side?
I’ve got a couple start ups on the side that I’m grossly involved in, but music is the major focus for now, also in the process of getting a masters degree in audio technology , so yeah Doinz Yapa.
By Dammy Eneli