Guchi… Love Diaries of ‘Purple’ Pop Star
If there is anything to be thankful for right now within the Nigerian music scene, it is the recent surge in the number of female newcomers. When Ugochi Onuoha stepped into the limelight in 2020 with her debut self-titled EP, her dainty gait and vibrant vocals were an exciting addition to the music fold.
Two years down the line, with hits such as Jennifer, Benzema, Speedometer, and the Zlatan-assisted Scatter my head, the Kaduna-born chanteuse has quickly become a household voice in the African music scene.
With her just-released sophomore EP dubbed Purple Diary, Ugochi elevates her art, distinguishing her voice as a top contender among the newcomers. In Purple Diary, she taps other prominent hitmakers such as Yemi Alade, and Ladipoe, to make a 6-tracker romantic record that safely showcases her lyrical and vocal strengths as a pop star. And with soothing themes of romantic love, Guchi easily weaves an enjoyable listening experience with this record.
Joining the league of singers with niche colour codes, Guchi also symbolises her artistry with the colour purple. From her styling choices to branding designs, she soars with the royalty of Purple. Catching up with Guardian Music, she soars in high spirits as she walks us down memory lane; revealing her creative muses; making music only when she is happy; her interesting obsession with Purple; as well as her plans for the future.
Your record just dropped, how do you feel about It?
FIRST, I feel so happy and excited, because I dropped my first body of work in 2020, and then it’s like one year after and I’m dropping another body of work. It’s titled Purple Dairy because the purple kind of represents Guchi. Anybody that sees it gets to remember Guchi, so it’s like a part of me that I’m writing about; something that happened to me or something that I’m assuming or something that I imagine in my life- in my love life.
It’s like a loving kind of EP. I added a kind of shattered to it. Shatter is like a heartbreak song. It also happened to me, but not like boyfriend-girlfriend heartbreak. It’s just someone that was really close to me that kind of betrayed me. So, the EP is basically a love EP, and it’s titled Purple Dairy.
What’s the obsession with Purple?
I think people got to know me with purple from last year when the song Jennifer blew up. I was already doing purple hair, and purple stuff you know. People got to know me as the purple girl, since last year.
I have always loved purple, but then I wasn’t rocking purple hair before. I had to pick a signature colour, and of course, I love purple. It started as just a brand signature, but I’m getting really obsessed now, and I just want everything I have to be purple.
Are the stories in the EP real-life stories?
I will say 80 per cent is fiction and 20 per cent is real, because most of the songs are saying how much I really love someone. It’s because I know that people can relate to love songs and of course, love is what happens to everybody. Everybody wants to be loved, everybody wants to fall in love, and everybody has been loved. Most people are loved so they can always relate. So it’s still something that happens around me.
I have seen people falling in love every day, and I just love to sing about what people can always relate to. Most times, 70 per cent of my songs do not really happen to me. People always imagine that I’m in a very serious relationship, I’m in love, or I’m heartbroken or something. Most times, it’s not about me.
Do you have a creative process?
Sincerely, I don’t always have it in mind that I want to make a particular song. Once you have that in mind, you would not sing the ‘you in you,’ you won’t be able to bring out that thing in you, because you just want to impress. So, for me, I just go to the studio and sing what I’m feeling at the moment.
I like to record when I’m happy. I don’t even record when I’m sad at all; I don’t know how to do that. So, I like to record when I’m happy. If I go to the studio and then I’m hearing a happy beat or something very groovy, I will just do what I feel like I can do without the mindset of making a hit song. I always record as much as I can. So, when we have a meeting with my team, I just play the songs for everybody. So, my team mostly does my song selection, and I just do my thing.
What was the most exciting song to create on Purple Diary?
For me it is Control. I have too many exciting records there. Control, I Swear, then Taking Over with Ladipoe. Taking Over is a song that’s saying, ‘hey, I love you, yeah, but then I don’t want to be committed to you. I love you so much, but I don’t want what comes in love, because what comes with love is commitment, what comes with love is sacrifice, what comes with love is trust. I’m not willing to give you that trust, not willing to make those sacrifices for you, not ready to give you the things that come with love.’ That’s what Taking Over is about.
For me, it’s really more interesting talking about things like this. People don’t like to talk about things like this; people just want to say, ‘hey, I’m not ready for a relationship,’ but the truth is it is not that we are ready to be loved; we are just not ready to give the commitment that comes with love sometimes. What comes with love sometimes is time and all. These stories matter.
Another interesting one for me is the song with Yemi Alade. It is talking about love, as well. Another favourite is the song Control. On these songs, I didn’t try to mimic anybody or try to sound like anybody or try to impress Nigerians; it’s just me singing. It’s just me saying this kind of feeling is making me lose control and all. Those three songs in the EP are my favorites.
You had Yemi Alade and Ladipoe on the EP. What informed those features?
I recorded the songs without these people first. I recorded I swear, but then when I recorded it, I didn’t put a second verse, like for me as an artiste at this point in my career, I need a lot, and I want a lot, and I need to prove the point. I will always record most times, keeping someone in my mind like, ‘okay, this person will be good on this song, you know.’ So, I have many songs like that. I just make songs that I feel a particular artiste can fit in.
For instance, I can say ‘Oh Wizkid will love this song!’ And I will be keeping the song for him. I would not release it, except the team says I need to drop the song alone. I have many songs like that. So, I had I swear, and I had Taking Over, and then I finished Taking Over, but I felt like I needed a rapper who would really kill the song. And then I swear, I just didn’t know who exactly, but I knew I needed something calm on it.
Interestingly, I had sent Yemi Alade a message in 2016, when I was still living in Abuja, but she only got to reply to me last year. And she loved I Swear on the first listen; we just made it happen. With Ladipoe, I went to see Don Jazzy one day in his studio, and I saw Ladipoe. I instantly knew that he was the one I wanted on that song. So, my manager encouraged me to approach him and I did. When I got to him, I told him I was a huge fan and I pitched the song to him. And he agreed to go to a studio with me and he did a freestyle to the song on the spot. I was like ‘Woah!’ That was how it happened.
Let’s trace back a bit, how did your music career start?
I started music when I was a kid, about seven years old. I started from the choir, but like officially in 2019 when I got signed. That was when I dropped my first official single, but then, I was singing and recording. I think I started recording in 2016. I got signed and then dropped my first official single in 2019, under PG Records Entertainment and since then, it’s been great.
Did you ever doubt taking up the career full-time?
Of course, I had to leave Abuja and come to Lagos. I had to leave my mum too, you know; we care so much for each other. I had to just make that sacrifice. I left school. I was schooling at Edo State University, but I had to drop out. I started all over in UNILAG. I really wanted this music thing.
I dropped my first single, it was like, even after all the push, nobody was feeling it. It was not like they were not feeling, but my expectations were so high. I didn’t know how the music business works. I was the first artist that was ever signed under my label, so, everybody was just trying to do what they felt was right for me. We were just pushing the way we could. I thought that I was going to blow up with just one song, but it didn’t happen. I felt sad; I won’t even lie.
Then, when I dropped my second song, Closer, my fans were increasing. Still, my expectations were soo high. And then I dropped my debut EP, but we couldn’t really push the EP, because of the End SARS protests. It kind of really drained me. I felt sad. At the end of the day, I started feeling like ‘you sure say this music thing na your thing?’ It felt as if Nigerians did not like me.
And then the song, Jennifer blew up. Then, I started feeling like they really liked me. And then I just had to encourage myself. Right now, I don’t care if they like me or not; I’m just going to be in their faces, and they don’t have a choice.
It is good to see where the music has taken you. So, what is next with Guchi?
Hopefully, an album next year.
Finally, tell us two fun facts about Guchi.
I’m very playful and I’m a very good cook; I know people don’t know that. My favourite things to cook are Afang soup, coconut rice, and okra soup. Like, just give it to me and you are just going to sleep after eating because you will get so full.