Zadok… Love Sermons From Nigerian Idol Star
Anyone who hears Zadok’s new project dubbed, Preacher of Love, will agree that the young superstar remains true to his name. Zadok, loosely translated as sincerity in Hebrew, brews a strong mix of emotions and storytelling in his 5-tracker EP.
The record is a fine addition to the catalogue of RnB love rhythms arising from Nigeria, Africa’s entertainment capital. It is a bold debut for the young musician, who recently emerged as runner-up in this year’s edition of the Nigerian Idol.
For the 24-year-old, Preacher of Love is a heartfelt memento of a painful heartbreak, which coincidentally was one of his chief inspirations during the Nigerian Idol competition. The solo record sees Zadok double his chances of standing out among the league of emotive singers within Nigeria’s musicscape. And if Ckay, Johnny Drille, Ric Hassani or Majeeed are among the voices you enjoy, then it’s easy to absorb the enigma of Zadok’s multi-faceted vocal energy.
Catching up with Guardian Music, the independent singer talks about his new EP, his influences as a singer, as well as his experience with the Nigerian Idol show.
You’ve come a long way trying to have a break in the industry and you are finally here. How do you feel?
For me, I try to keep it a hundred per cent.
The passion I’ve got a long time ago, I still have that passion to push my sound to the world. I’m still in that zone. I’m still in that space. I’m still keeping the energy a hundred, you know.
Was this album your expectation? Like was this the type of album you imagine yourself bringing out in the industry?
Pretty much, yes. Everyone knows how the Afrobeat is now so saturated. For me, I just wanted to do classic music, beautiful and timeless music. The EP is actually an expression of what is going to come.
So, I just actually did free puzzles of different styles and types of music that I would always be putting out. You know I want to do classical music and that is what I am doing right now. And then, I’m just grateful and hopeful for the best.
So, what exactly did you gain from the Nigerian Idol show that has significantly shaped your career?
I gained a lot of exposure. I’ve been doing music on the ground, trying to build myself, but with the Idol, I gained that exposure. And then, a lot of people knew me. I had a wider range; people knew what I was doing.
For the business part, I just needed to meet the right people. I’ve always been praying to meet the right people; people who remember the business part of the music. Then, gracefully, now I’m working with at least a few of them and then the business part is being sorted. So, I’m just grateful.
Did it have any impact on your style of music?
I basically was just true to my sounds; what I did was just infuse. At some point, one of the tracks is called Aye, it’s more like an Afro-pop kind of feel. So, we just infused a little bit of soul, which is my sound- soul music. And then we infused a little bit of Afro. So, Afro-soul music; that’s just the infusion we had. I have a little bit of infusion in all of the songs.
Meanwhile, I’m still staying true to my sounds. I’m not changing per se or trying to move with the crowd. You know what I mean. I’m just staying true to my sound, but I am still infusing because this is Nigeria, Afro music. So, I just infuse Afro music into my sounds, which makes it Afro-centric.
What would you say is your biggest strength?
It’s my voice. My voice is my biggest strength. Like during the show, people were like, ‘Zadok’s voice can move mountains,’ that kind of thing. You know, I’ve got that very bold, big voice. Sweet, husky, bold big voice.
What I do mostly is that I just blend it in with any sound that comes up with my producer, Deeyasso, yeah. That’s it. My voice is my biggest strength.
Was working mostly with Deeyasso intentional?
I’m stuck with him because you know, as a creative and as a musician, it’s hard to get producers who understand your sound and direction. So, Deeyasso is just the best. If I say my music is a puzzle, Deeyasso is the best producer in the puzzle; he understands my sound. He understands where we are going and then when we are in the studio, it’s magic.
It may interest you to know that most of the creative parts of the songs, most of them are actually more than my own. Apart from being a producer, he is a writer. I just come up with an idea and then he brings up his own idea and the song just comes out.
Honestly, the songs I have in the studio, which are not been released yet, if you hear them, you will be shocked. So, Deeyasso and I are just 5&6, you know. His contribution is just a perfect match for my song because he understands where I am going. He understands the song and it’s just magic.
I’m interested in your creative process. In terms of working with others, what is something you would look out for?
Okay, yes. The EP is just my first project. It’s not like I wouldn’t like to work with somebody or with other musicians, but we just had to put this one out. Looking forward, we just want to work with so many artistes.
I would love to work with Asa. I love the Tekno sound. I love Victony. I love Timi Dakolo- these are people I would love to work with. And then of course, when we were creating Aye off the EP, we were thinking about Davido. You know, these are people that could fit into my sound creatively. So, I would love to work with Timi Dakolo, Asa, Victony, Tekno, Davido and a whole lot of them.
You said your voice is your biggest strength.
Yeah, that’s the word. I realised that I can sing any type of song; I can create any type of music. I could create Afro sounds very well. I could create an Amapiano sound very well. I could create this Black American pop, and R&B very well. I can also create soul music very well.
So, my voice is just, I don’t know how to say it, but I just know that I’m blessed with the voice to do a lot. So, I’m flexible with my voice to make a lot of sounds.
Growing up, what were the influences that pushed you to the current style you’re doing?
I grew up listening to a lot of voiced women; a lot of R Kelly, a lot of Asa, and a lot of 2Face. I grew up listening to a lot of them and at some point; I was stuck with Micheal Bolton and then John Mayer.
Before I even started music professionally, I listened to a lot of songs- alternative types of music a lot. I would just vibe to them while I was growing up. So, that has actually shaped my sound. Now, I can actually do a lot with my sound and create a lot of music.
Let’s talk about the ideas for some of the songs. How personal were the stories behind the songs?
Yeah, they were true-life stories; the whole EP is about love. Before the show, I mean, before the Nigerian idol, like I said before, I was heartbroken. I am a sucker for love; I am somebody who believes in love. I love to love; probably the way I grew up. My dad was a very loving man. He believed in love, and he actually loves to love. So, we grew up like that, with so much love in the family. I just found myself listening to a lot of love songs. And then, coming out of the competition, the love I got from people.
So, while we were recording, it was just love, love, love; everything. It’s just like when you wake up, you see love. You go out, you see love. So, the writing of love songs was just flowing; it was easy. So, for the first track, which is YOU, I was actually thinking of somebody when I wrote that song.
I was thinking of somebody when I wrote the song and she knows herself. I was actually thinking of someone when I wrote it, then we created magic.
Aye is also a love song. In my head, I was just like, ‘when you call my name, I will always be there to lead the way.’ I don’t care what they say; I want to love you. And then track three, Baby Mi; I wrote that song a long time ago, even before I moved down to Lagos. I wrote it a long time ago, and then we did our thing, we just created magic again. Actually, it is a wedding song. Baby Mi is a wedding song.
And then Love Like A River, Deeyasso and myself drove out that day; I think we went to Ric Hassani’s place. We were coming back and I was like, ‘Deeyasso, there’s this thing o, what do you think.’ And he was like ‘okay.’ Deeyasso just carried his guitar, struck the first cord, the second cord and then the third cord and it took me a while to find you; that was how that song came. It was like 20 minutes to create that song, honestly.
Thank God for Deeyasso, his production was mind-blowing. From the guitar line, he just said, ‘Zaddy do like this, do like this and then before we knew it, the chorus came out and then that was Love Like A River. That song is so timeless, a classic.
Then, The Preacher Of Love, the name came from the Idol. People started calling me a preacher of love because I was singing love songs all the time. It was only nice for me to just name the EP preacher of love, you know. So, that’s it.
If you were not doing music, what would you be doing?
If I were not doing music, I would have loved to play football. No, I don’t want to be a mechanic; I want to be a baller of course. So, I would have loved to play football and also entertainment, music. Yeah, I know how to act very well. I could actually go into acting also. So, that’s it.
So, what’s next for you?
Next for me is an album, that will be next year. My producer and I are already working. As I said, we have a lot of songs in his studio. It’s just for us to collate everything we have and call the team to review and then we would put out an album next year.