Kizz Daniel… Intimate Melodies Of Barnabas
The cries of his newborns pierced through the airwaves as we began the conversation. “I’m sorry, I have to stay off video,” he apologises, hibernating his newly-assumed ‘daddy duties’ to settle in for the chat. For Daniel Anidugbe, better known as Kizz Daniel, this was a new era for him, having to learn to nurture his newly born twins, Jalil and Jelani. And for a superstar – with all the hassle it commands – it definitely means a heightened experience. A new dawn! And this sense of growth is the same life-wire that has underscored his musical evolution, from his pandemic-era King of Love album, down to his latest body of work dubbed Barnabas. For Kizz Daniel, life has become a collage of bitter-sweet experiences, sharpening his storytelling like never before.
Barnabas begins with the now-viral hit, ‘Pour Me Water’, which is Kizz’ comical-yet-sullen memoir of a painful love experience, setting the project up with the signature vibrancy that has funneled his discography, from his debut New Era days down to this EP. The entire project is woven with deeper introspective melodies from the second track ‘Addict’ to ‘Eh God’, down to ‘Skin’, all the time pulsating with an organic groove woven with sound experimentation, upbeat melodies and intimate songwriting apart from the ‘Cavemen’. Appearing on the progressive highlife fusion, ‘Oshe’, the project has no other features. It is not Kizz’s best work yet, but it is his most progressive and most intimate.
Kizz who broke out back in 2013 with his hit dubbed, Woju, is one act that is never far from the spotlight. After parting ways with his former G-worldwide label, he flipped on the label executive hat with his Flyboi Inc label, signing two other acts – the soundwhiz Philkeys, as well as the fast-rising singer Demmie Vee. With all the roses – and thorns – of ‘indie life’, Kizz has shown stealth in the industry, having an impressing run so far, despite the endless controversies, clapback and trolling that surface in his career.
Sitting down with Guardian Music, he gets intimate about fatherhood, making Barnabas, finding his path in music from Abeokuta, overcoming addictions, charting a road to his forthcoming Afroclassic album (which is due this year), as well as gearing up for his world tour next month, among others.
Congrats on the release of Barnabas. How did you feel when you dropped it?
Well, just the usual – the excitement, the rush, the energy. It has to be right before the release, and after the release, you keep the energy. So, that’s it. It’s a really good body of work.
From King of Love to Barnabas, what’s the story?
The King of Love album was basically about different forms of love, and then Barnabas means ‘son of encouragement.’ It is personal. I needed to put out that body of work. So, that’s it.
What do you mean by you needed?
First, talking about Barnabas, I had too many songs, and I would go on tour next year (now this year, 2022). I was working on the Afroclassic album. Afroclassic album was supposed to drop last year and at the same time, Barnabas. So, I said to myself, you know what, there’s a direction for the classic album – the production and everything else. So, I decided to step aside and create something real quick for the fans to digest.
Speaking of giving the fans what they wanted or needed, the project sounds experimental. Was that on purpose?
Yes, it was. I wouldn’t say it was intentional, but I was just looking for something fresh. You know, you need songs like Lie, Skin. So, Oshe is Highlife, and I did that with The Cavemen, and that’s like one of my go-to sounds. And then I have Barnabas, which is like Afro and Amapiano. So, I actually went for freshness for the EP.
Now, you’re saying Highlife is like your go-to sound. Does it mean that you listen to a lot of Highlife?
Not really. If I even show you my playlist, you will laugh. Right now, I listen to majorly Enya. Like I have Enya on repeat or shuffle – I mean back-to-back. Now, the reason for it is because of the Afroclassic album. So, I really want to be on check with the next album and Enya does it for me. That’s like a rare choice. Yeah, I enjoy the melody and all of that.
Now that you are planning a new project, what are the kinds of sound we should be expecting?
I am an Afro-pop artiste, and I am very particular about my drums – chords and also progressions. When it comes to choosing beats and watching a producer produce beats from scratch, I always stick towards the sorrowful side, you know. Most of my songs are real; my stories are well expressed where the environment is connected with your spirit.
Why do you make music?
Right now, I’m making music because of a lot of things. I’m not saying it’s my only source of income, but I enjoy making music because it’s fun for me. I enjoy sitting in front of a microphone, voicing my heart out, smiling with cool juice or water and expressing myself, you know. I just enjoy making music. It’s been a part of me for a long time now, so it’s hard to just separate myself from music.
And funny enough, the whole thing started way back when I was still in Abeokuta. I grew up in Kuto, which was like a marketplace. So, every morning when we woke up, there was this crazy guy we called ‘orobo.’ He woke everybody up; every morning he sang Fuji and all the people in the market would start dropping money. And I was like I’ll try my own; then I started. That’s how the whole thing started – from the market.
At that point where you had to make the final decision to switch to music, what pushed you towards that choice?
When I started recording songs, my dad was not worried, but he was a little bit concerned. He was like, you know what, this might be distracting. So, he was like, do me a favour and get your B.Sc first. Finish university in flying colours and all that and I will let you do what you want to do for a year. After that, if things are not happening the way I want them to happen, you are going to the UK to do your masters. I studied Water Engineering. Fortunately for me, I got signed within that one year, and I’m still smashing it to date.
So, it was meant for you from the start?
Exactly. No doubt. So, from that moment onwards, I said to myself that I am unstoppable. Over the years, we have been able to create an amazing catalogue.
Nobody will dispute the fact that you have an amazing discography. But then, there is so much negativity on social media towards you. Does it ever get to you?
No, and that’s because I’m not a social media person. I do go on social media sometimes, but not too often. So, even when the team is discussing issues going on about me, I tell them to bring it to me to let me read it. I will pick what I want to pick and learn from it. I would be like ‘oh, this is true,’ or ‘this is not,’ and I just move on. Life’s too short, you know!
So, are we still going to see the lover-boy version of you on this new album?
For Afroclassic, I can’t really describe that body of work right now. But I’m going to give you a list of some of my existing songs. When you listen to Good Time, Necessary, Lie and Yeba, and you put all those sounds together, then you have the Afroclassic album.
Let’s get into your personal life. Let me start with your fashion style – what inspires it?
I don’t even know; I just dress. I’m a very simple guy. I like to keep it very simple. Even to pack diamond put for neck na wahala sometimes sef. So, when it comes to fashion and all that, I don’t go too bold and flashy; I keep it really simple. That’s the Afro classic style and that’s how I do it.
What are your top hobbies?
I love watching cartoons. I also love playing video games.
How is fatherhood for you?
It’s cool! It could be stressful sometimes. But if you no get money no born o; it’s expensive. You have to give your kids the best. Also, it’s time-consuming. You know you need to spend time with your kids.
Has it changed the way you reflect on your music?
Yeah. It has actually even changed me more. I am more aware of my surrounding, my environment and the energy around me. I pay attention, especially to how I treat people because I know my kids will grow up and I don’t want my kids to be treated badly. So, I am more particular about that energy- positivity.
Let’s go back to Barnabas before we wrap up. What are your favourite tracks from the album?
Honestly, Lie is still my favourite song on my EP. Also, I love all songs the same, but Lie is like my special. And Pour Me Water is like my reality.
Oh! Tell us about that…
Okay, let me just generalise it. At some point in a guy’s life, you get to want something that doesn’t want you back. And most times, you feel like something can be done. If you feel like something is fixable, you have to fix it. I don’t know if that makes sense, but that’s what actually happened. You know, I wanted someone so bad that I kept ignoring the signs that this person doesn’t want me as much. And this happened way before I became Kizz Daniel.
If you were to describe your most memorable moment from making this EP, what would it be?
That would be when I was making Addict. That was the last song I recorded on the EP and it’s just very personal. So, a lot of things happened in the studio that day. I think that day was the day I gave up some bad characters. After recording that song, I just dropped; I was like this thing, I’m not doing it again. So, I was like I’m giving the world this song to help them with their addiction, and me too, this song is helping. So, I’m off.
Finally, tell us briefly about your upcoming tour?
We are starting the Afroclassic world tour in February. I think we are touching almost everywhere in the world – Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Ibadan. Then in Europe, we are doing Dublin, Frankford, Lisbon; we are doing Berlin. We are doing like twenty-something cities in the US. So, it’s going to be fire.