The soulful vibes of Bemyoda
Not your typical Nigerian artist, Bem Iordaah also known as Bemyoda, is a promising young artist whose music is introducing a different vibe to the industry. The artist, who grew up in both Enugu and Makurdi, studied civil engineering at the University of Minna. He moved to Lagos in 2009 to work as a digital marketing consultant. Although he wrote his first song at the age of 14, his journey officially began after he joined a choir and he lost a group member. He explains, “I think I came to the realisation that I could do it by myself after my friend and group member died and I figured, you know, you have just one life to live, you should use the gifts you’ve been blessed with, to whatever extent you can.”
Iordaah’s music can be described as soulful and reflective compared to the more hyper West African tunes currently out. Perhaps it’s time for a breath of fresh air in the industry. Guardian Life had a short chat with Iordaah on his alternative sound and challenges faced as a musician in Nigeria.
How difficult is it to make it in the music industry in Nigeria?
All kinds of music could be tough to sell. It’s almost as if there’s some sort of spectrum. The kind of music you create determines your position on that spectrum, broadly speaking. There’s way more challenges if you make music of my kind in Nigeria. There’s the fact that you require a critical mass to appreciate your music, but that mass is either too little to make a difference, or wants to mostly dance and not figure lyrics out. There are shady, incompetent people and an industry that is fickle. There’s the lack of structure that makes simple things way more complex than they should be.
Your sound is different. How do you think you can appeal to the typical Nigerian music market?
As great as that is, it also presents me a bit of a challenge. I wish I could, but I doubt that I can ever completely appeal to the “typical” Nigerian music market, unfortunately.
Hopefully a broader section over time, but maybe not the typical section. There are themes that work with the typical section, templates. And certain people do such a great job of it, it’s amazing to see. I’m open to making music that’s simpler, hoping that more people can relate. But I’m closed to becoming something of a retail goods salesman.
Tell us some people you have worked with and who’s been your favourite so far?
I’ve worked most closely with Atta Lenell Otigba and Amos Kantiok. Also, I have worked with IBK Spaceshipboi and Paul Scholten. All of them are unique and special, and the vision I have for a song determines whom I call. But Atta Lenell Otigba, produced most of the songs on my forthcoming debut album.
What should your fans look forward to? Any exciting stuff coming up?
I have a few things coming up I’m really excited about. First is a multimedia exhibition inspired by my debut album, Stark, at the Red Door Art Gallery in Victoria Island from May 27th – 29th. The album will be released on the 9th of June 2017. I’m working on a documentary as well which was inspired by one of the songs on the album.
Tell us interesting facts about yourself
I think I’m somewhat a risk taker. I spent about a month in Nashville in 2015 recording songs for my EP and album. I’d met the producer online, had one Skype call with him, before getting on a plane to Nashville where I knew no one. Turned out to be one of the most amazing experiences of my life so far.