Adegoke Odukoya also known as Ade Bantu, a Nigerian-German musician, producer and activist, is founder of the Afro-German musical collective and leader of Bantu & Afrobeat Academy Band. The KORA award winner in this interview, lets readers into his life, music and thoughts about Nigeria. Excerpt:
My artist name is Ade Bantu, I am a grenzgänger and a fufuologist, I do a bit of music, a bit of Film production and I like exploring the world.
What is Grenzgänger? Grenzgänger is a German word that is also sometimes used in the English language. It means boarder crosser- someone who refuses to be confined to one role. “Fufuologist” is a term I invented around my music which I call “The Sound of Fufu”. Our music is conscious music. It talks about life, love and pain.
When did you start recording? I actually started music with a bunch of friends in secondary school in Germany. We recorded a demo which was passed on to a record company. They liked what they heard and before we knew it we were recording an album, touring and giving interviews.
I’ve been recording since 1991 and my first album was with a group called Exponential Enjoyment in 1993. The first album I recorded with Bantu was titled “Fufu” it was released in 1999 on Kennis Music.
I have recorded over 10 albums with various groups. My band Bantu has recorded 5 Albums, but the first song that caught people’s attention was “Nzogbu” which we released in 1999.
The Album “No Man Stands Alone”, released in 2011 was produced in Nigeria. It featured Fatai Rolling Dollar, Sound Sultan, Nneka and many others.
Bantu’s new single “Oya Oya” is a collaborative effort between my band and a German Breakbeat producer called Basement Freaks and the album is doing very well. It was released late 2012 and the response has been amazing. We gave out the song for free on the internet. The producer, Basement Freaks, and my band felt like making the song available to as many people as possible. We had over 2000 plays and downloads in a matter of hours. Radio feedback has been good. Everyone likes the song, which is a fusion of Afro beat, Afro hiphop, and house music.
”Oya Oya” is a feel good tongue in cheek kind of song. We have been performing it for over 8 years and now we felt like it was time to release it. The chorus of the song and video say it all.
What kind of music do you play? Bantu’s music is an eclectic fusion of Hip hop, Afro beat,Reggae, Jazz and Yoruba soul. We are constantly searching for sounds and words to capture our Afro-German reality.
Whose music changed your life? I’d say artists like Fela , Public Enemy, Peter Tosh as well as Marvin Gaye. I draw inspiration from playboy magazines, movies, conversations, novels, sculptures, poems and paintings.
Any challenges? Life is full of challenges but I see them as opportunities. You get to rise up to the occa sion once you discover and connect to the untapped resources inside of you.
Are you satisfied with the music industry?
I find it quite funny that we keep talking of an industry. What we have in Nigeria is a music scene. There are no structures in place that warrant the term Industry. When you talk about an industry, you are referring to structure. We lack the right structures in this country. Too much of trial and error is going on. Proper and effective distribution does not exist. It’s a music scene that we have in Nigeria, not a music industry.
How do you relax? I do a bit of sports, I meditate, I read, write and if I am inspired I work on music. I hang out with friends, watch a good movie, have a nice dinner.
If you are not recording,what do you do?
I work with kids on a music-dance-theater project called BornTroway. We go to disadvantaged communities in Nigeria and train kids for free. I’m also working on a cinema documentary called “Elders Corner”-it’s the story of Nigeria told through its musical icons
What is music to you? Music is my life. It keeps me sane and grounded.
Your thoughts about Nigeria? We need to renegotiate Nigeria. Bring everyone back to the drawing board and let’ s all decide what we want from each other and what we are willing to give to this country. For now Nigeria is nothing more than an artificial entity.