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Telz: The Emerging Sound Of Funkula

Alli “Telz” Odunayo

If you pay attention to the Nigerian music scene lately, you are certainly going to notice the emergence of amazing sounds and rhythms engineered by a new generation of producers.

Alli Odunayo, better known as Telz or by his producer tag “Funkula”, is the brilliant producer behind many hits like Parotanking’s “Abule”, Burna Boy’s “Wonderful” as well as “Onyeka”, “Naughty by Nature” and “Wetin Dey Sup” off the new album titled “Twice as Tall” which Telz primarily produced along with LeriQ, Rexxie, Timbaland and DJDS, among others.

Telz is ½ of the Spaceship Collective producers alongside LeriQ who’ve been tagged “RocketBoys”. He sits down with The Guardian Life to discuss his origin story, producing the biggest album out of Africa right now and his plans for the future.

Tell us a bit about yourself, who is Telz?
My name is Alli Odunayo. I am 23 years old from Ondo State and a graduate of Babcock University.

What inspired your producer tag “Funkula,” and how do you feel when you hear people refer to you as “born killer” or “porn killa”?
“Funkula” is just a tag/chant. I was going through something on my laptop and I saw a statement that had “Funkula” at the end which I picked. I delayed it, so there’s a reverberation. I like the way everyone says “Born Killer,” “Kpon Giller,” “Fun Killer.” It’s controversial; everyone wants to know what it is and argue about what they think it is. However, I did it on purpose because I’m trying to sell the tag and it’s really working because “Funkula” is becoming a household name.

How long have you been producing? (Professionally & otherwise)?
Professionally, I’ve been producing for 3 years but I started making beats in 2011. I dropped a couple of songs in 2014, 2015, 2016, but I wasn’t serious. I eventually started professionally in 2017, and in 2018 I started making beats to my taste.

What was the first big break that officially announced you in the industry?
My first big break was D-O & Olamide “Wetin You Smoke.” Everyone wanted to know who “Funkula” was.

Alli “Telz” Odunayo

As a producer, what were your most challenging hurdles breaking into the industry?
The most challenging is the fact that there are so many people working. You always get stuff like “are you a producer? hmm na everyone dey produce” or “don’t you think there’s something else you should do? what about 9-5?” Or you have people that are riding you because you’re looking for the exposure that they have, they use you and dump you.
You have to get your way up there or look for someone with a clean heart to get you up there which is very hard in the industry we are in.

Can you describe what inspires your sound and gives it that unique feel?
I listen to everybody but mostly Timberland, Just Blaze, Mike Dean, Jon Bellion, among others.
I don’t usually listen to African/Nigerian songs that influence my sound because I am African and I feel like I already have that sound, so I try to mix it with the sounds I hear overseas, mixing everything. For example, I got the whole idea (sound and arrangement) of “Wonderful” from a rock band “kiss” just by listening to their album, which in turn inspired the beat.

As a lead producer on Burna Boy’s “Twice As Tall,” how did you manage to ensure that you delivered classics on an album that had other amazing talents, including Diddy?
Working with Burna Boy requires that you deliver because Burna Boy is not just Nigerian, African, or international. He’s worldwide. I also knew what I had to do by increasing my standards. Having to make a song co-produced by Timberland, P Diddy and with every young producer looking up to Timberland, it was surreal.

What were your top 5 favourite songs on the album?
My top 5 are Alarm Clock, Onyeka, Wetin Dey Sup, Way Too Big and Bank On It.

As far as collaborations go, on a global scale, who are you looking forward to working with next?
I really want to work with J Hus, Jon Bellion and Rema.

What can fans expect from Telz in the future?
Right now I’m trying to change sound by listening to different sounds. It’s still the same me but a different sound. Hence, expect something different. Hopefully, I get what I’m looking for.
I will be putting out singles sometime, working with different people, being my own person and still have something amazing with everyone.

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