Band Hitz… Joy Of Lifting The Trophy
“How can you do such a blend and it blends this perfectly,” Cobhams Asuquo reeled in astonishment, as he adjudged their jaw-dropping rendition of Timi Dakolo’s Wish Me Well.
During the long weeks of the Trophy Extra Special Band competition, many Nigerians witnessed the sonic mastery that the eclectic boy band dubbed, The BandHitz, dished out.
From mixing Fuji and Highlife with popular Afro-pop records to blending soulful RnB melodies with Asian rhythms, the band brought on a uniqueness that blended well with their youthful energies to trademark them as the spotlight of the entire show. Their rendition of Omah Lay’s Infinity is a fine example of this radical genre-bending whiz.
After weeks of making Tuface Idibia, Timi Dakolo and Cobhams cringe in excitement, these young Afro-fusion apostles smiled home with the grand prize of N10 million as winners of the show, which has only run for two seasons so far. Waltzing into the Guardian TV studio, the young men: Mr. Soul, Gideon, Ebenezer, and Jay, brought in the same energy that exploded with enthusiasm, humour and gentleness, as they playfully made Tik Tok videos and birthday shoutouts to their fans.
In this chat with Guardian Music, the band’s leader, Mr. Soul, captures the journey of the competition, their creative inspirations, as well as their vision to make impactful music.
How did it feel for you guys winning the competition?
IT felt really good because it is one thing to have your mindset on competition, it is another thing to actually win it against all the odds.
At what point did you feel you had a shot at winning?
I think from the start. From the auditions, we saw that we had a solid shot at it, and we worked at it.
You peaked with versatility in the show. Was that deliberate?
So, we were instructed to play different genres in the show, although usually, we were already used to infusing different elements in our music before the competition. We are young, but we are pretty much experienced in playing different genres of music.
If we are doing highlife, I come up with the arrangement and the rest of the band already knows what to do, because they already know what Highlife sounds like. Everybody just contributes their part and makes the song come alive.
Are you all self-taught?
Yes, our music comes naturally. Although we have people that know this thing theoretically but to know how to apply the knowledge is actually natural. Basically, we are self-taught.
How did you guys meet?
So, two of my guys, the drummer and the keyboardist, used to work with me in church. I have always had the dream to have a band that will do mind-blowing things. So, I knew they were capable because they used to do it already with me. So, we decided to take it up a notch. Then, we needed a bass player. Funnily, I started using hashtags to look for bassists on social media. So, I found my bassist online. I had our band manager reach out to him. Everything fell in place; it was just very sweet.
The best part of everything is that we all have like minds. If you have a vision, you need to work with like-minded people. We are just about a year and some months now.
And you are already millionaires?
We thank God for that one o.
Is there any agenda to your band?
The band itself is an artiste; it is designed to entertain people. We just make magic. The idea of BandHitz is to pick any song and make it sound interesting, even beyond the real song.
So, what were the toughest moments for you guys in the show?
It was the Judges Cover contest we had to do. We were to do a song by Timi Dakola dubbed, Wish Me Well. So, apart from also being a judge, Cobhams also produced that particular song, and Cobhams is a great musician. So, we had to think of how to put ourselves in the position of the judges.
If you listen to the original song, there is nothing to be done again; it is a complete masterpiece. I did not see any angle to come from that will really sweep off his feet, so I decided to borrow some rhythms from China to infuse into the song.
What’s your creative process like?
It starts with me sometimes. Other times, they come up with ideas too. I handle the musical arrangements. So, when I talk to them, they also bring ideas and we forge them together. Sometimes, during rehearsals, we just improvise and create something unexpected. The good part is I don’t have to always explain my concepts. They just know what to do and infuse their own magic on it.
Which musical influences do you guys look up to now?
We admire some bands. There is a band called Be On It; they are Americans. There is another band that performs for Justin Bieber; I like their energy and sound. There are a number of them, but most of them aren’t in Nigeria.
Does that inspire you guys?
We have a very big picture in our heads. Compared to what we have in our heads, this is what we have in our heads.
Is there a reason you’re all boys?
I guess I haven’t thought about it that way. I guess, in my head, we are supposed to be like a Boy-band.
What do you guys envision in the long run?
The long-term vision is to make everybody see that as a band, you can also make impact. You can touch people’s lives. We have a new video out on YouTube now called Expressions. We have been getting comments; a lot of people have showed themselves crying to it and all that. The message is to reach out to the world with our music and inspire as many people as we can. Then, to also make plenty money.
So, what’s the action plan now?
We are looking out to play more concerts. We are also working on an album. We would also drop a mixtape soon. We are working on so much at the same time.
What were your most memorable moments in the show?
It was when we were announced as the winner; that day was actually our one-year anniversary. It was quite emotional for us. I didn’t cry though, but my band members all cried.
Anything you’d like to add?
Yes. This was not a mistake. It is deliberate, coming all the way to this point. It is a lot of work, consistency and hardwork. Everyone out there who is inspired by what we do, should not give up. Give whatever you are doing your 100 per cent.
Tell us a fun fact about you guys?
We fight a lot; we disagree to agree a lot. We get over it though and lock in as fast as possible.