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Young Jonn… Conversing ‘The Wicked Producer’

By Chinonso Ihekire
26 March 2022   |   4:20 am
Around the early 2010s, the Afrobeats scene across Nigeria went agog with a streak of hits, coloured in Afro-pop and Afro Street-hop. And one of the key drivers of this era was the music maverick, Udomboso John, better known as Young Jonn.

With a litany of hardcore hit productions, such as Lil Kesh’s Shoki, Olamide’s Story For The Gods, Kizz Daniel’s Mama among others, Young Jonn chiseled his name on the halls of fame, as the ‘wicked producer’ who takes his cruelty out on backing melodies and sound engineering. Now, the producer is taking a bold diversion down his journey to greatness, delving into the singing space. 

Young Jonn is not the first, and would not be the last Nigerian producer to combine music production with singing. But with the surface look of things, the young musician is poised to become an audacious voice in his generation.

Despite starting off with earlier releases, which had a subtler impact, Young Jonn is returning with a revved-up tempo. With his lead single, Dada, off his forthcoming Love Is Not Enough (L.I.N.E) EP, still making the rounds, Jonn is now redefining perception about his image, convincing every ear that listens to his love-themed melodies on the prowess of his talent.

Backed by Chocolate City Music, Young Jonn is bringing back the vibrancy of his production catalogue and combining it with slow-groove, inspirational and exciting melodies that will jostle brilliantly among other like-spirited records on all the significant music charts. He sits down with Guardian Music, discussing his transition, the inspirations behind his forthcoming LINE EP, which drops next Friday, as well as his backstories behind his journey to the top. 

Congratulations on your transition. How does it feel? 
SO far, the energy has been great; it’s been wonderful.

Since when did you know you wanted to sing?
Well, I’ve always been recording, I just never really focused on it like that, you know. Overtime, I just found my way back to it. So, yeah, that’s the way I am.

When did you start? 
I’ve always been recording right from time – my vocals… sound recordings and all are on my phone. I’ve always been doing that. I’ve just never really shared my music with anyone. But now, I think I’m ready to.

But did you tell anyone?
I can’t really say that I knew I’d ever get to this point at all. Like me, I’ve always loved music and all of that, but at a time, my head was totally in a different space. You get what I mean?

I just never put in the effort, or the ginger. I didn’t focus on all of that, like I didn’t really share my music with people. So, it was just I and a couple of my friends, those people that knew I sing. Everybody listens to my music; we just didn’t really put it out.

So, what drew you to music in the first place and how did you start this journey?
Music has always been a major part of me. Like growing up, my mum used to play the saxophone; she used to play the guitar too. She was a chorister, you know. I’ve always been embedded in that, like musical foundation and all of that.
My dad is a pastor, so I grew up in church playing the keyboard, drums- basically like that. That was how music got into my bloodstream. One way or the other, I’ve always been on this path.

You’ve always had that musical background, but did you have other ambitions?
I wanted to be a footballer; I wanted to play soccer.

Why didn’t you pursue that dream?
Funny enough, I dey try o; I still play very well. Just that the way life directs you… life has a plan for everybody rather. But yeah, initially, I wanted to be a footballer and I was really working towards it, but somehow, it didn’t work.

What do you want your sound to be like? What’s the direction?
Well, the direction I can say is, my music is a basic expression of what is going on in my mind; different moments define different things. So, hopefully, my music is headed to the greatest phase – let me just put it like that.

All we can do is hope for the best. So, yeah, regarding work, I’m working so hard on these things to know that I can go as far as I can imagine it to be.

What’s your favorite or preferred sound to produce, and what do you see yourself doing now, in terms of genres?
Honesty, I won’t really say that I have a favorite genre like that. As long as it’s sweet, as long as it makes me feel good, you know what I mean. I am more attached to the fitting than the tag, you understand. Like it depends on how it makes me feel- if it makes me feel good, then I love it.

So, what’s the most memorable – like the most challenging record you have ever produced? 
Honestly, every single record is actually special in its own way. I’m not even trying to be political; I cannot even lie. Every record is attached to an experience that is amazing in their own way, you know-from Ma Fo, to Shakitibobo, to Wo – all of them have amazing back-stories. So, yeah, like all for real.

What inspired the L.I.N.E. EP? 
LINE is the short form for ‘Love is not Enough.’ By saying love is not enough, I’m not trying to be an advocate for no love or hard guy; that’s not even the point of ‘Love is not Enough.’ In my own context, I feel like love is not sufficient for all the things we thought it was.

When I’m talking about love, I’m not just talking about the romantic side of love, because I’m big on love. I am big on family love, love between friends, you know. I realised that as good as love feels, it’s not really as sufficient as we thought. Love is never enough for anything. So, that was the space I was in when I was creating the project.

When did you start making the EP?
Okay, so when I started making the EP, I didn’t even know I was making the EP; I was just recording the songs. I’ve been recording since last year. All the songs on that EP that have been recorded, we started recording them last year. So, I was just recording songs, and I knew eventually it would yield up to the body of work. I just wasn’t sure where or when or like the name. I was just recording.

So, is there any collaboration on the project? 
Oh yeah, I have collaboration with Vedo. Vedo is an American artiste; he is a songwriter for Chris Brown, and other big artistes. He has big songs basically and he’s doing well for himself in the US. Apart from that, he’s just totally connected in the song; he sounded really amazing.

Now, are you looking towards doing this full time? You know, albums, tours and whatnot? 
Well, anything worth doing is worth doing well. So, if I am putting my mind into doing all of these, I’m definitely trying to go all the way, you know.

Are we going to remove the ‘wicked producer’ from your tag or would you keep producing?
No, that one sef still dey nah. I mean, I’m still producing. There is a lot of music coming from Young Jonn the Wicked Producer, definitely.

Speaking of producing and singing, there are lots of people who have done it in the past. Is there anyone who currently influences you? 
Basically, I’ve always been doing this for myself regardless of what other people think. Yeah, there are lots of producers that are still doing this, you know Maleek Berry, Kiddominant, Pheelz, and others. I just feel blessed to be one of the people that have the ability to show their talents in multiple ways, you know what I’m saying.

So, what’s your favorite record on the EP? 
Honestly, that will be hard for me. But yeah, I really love the one that is out now, Dada. I love Just Friends. I really like 32 as well. See, I love everything bro, no worry.

What’s one song that had the most challenging process on this EP? 
Honestly, the way I always record and all of that, I don’t like to make challenging music. When I mean challenging music, l mean when I try to record and a particular song is stressing me out or it’s taking too long, I just let it be. This is because whenever I record, it’s basically pure vibes. So, when it flows, I record it and leave it alone again, and whenever it flows again, I record.

So, everything is just basically stress free. I can’t really see any record that gave me issues like that. Even the one with Bebo, we didn’t really have any issue, because when I sent him the song, he sent it back because he really connected to the song. So, yeah, everything was just stress free.

Are you going to have a niche and are you sticking with it?
Like I said before, I don’t like to be boxed up in a niche. I just like to do everything that makes me feel good. If it sounds good to me, and it makes me feel better, it’s a go for me, regardless of the genre or how it sounds.

In the industry now, who are the artistes you are currently feeling now that you could work with?
Yeah, I am feeling a lot of artistes now. Like Asake, Majeed who is a new artiste, Fireboy, Killertunes, Smiley, who is another young but exceptional artiste too.

You are one of the leading producers in the country. How does that make you feel?
Well, it feels good, but like one thing about me, I always want more; I’m never satisfied. I am always trying to better myself, so yeah, I always want more. It feels good, but still, I want more.

So, does it feel like intimidating or challenging knowing you are going to have to walk your way up as a singer? 
Funny enough, it doesn’t. I mean, I love a good challenge; that’s me. Anybody that knows me would tell you these are the kind of things I like. I love looking forward to something. You know, working on something and looking forward to it. I like a profitable job. So, yeah, I am glad to go all the way through.

So, when is the EP set to drop? 
It is set to drop on April 1.

What is the vision for Young John, what are we going to be seeing?
Well, after the EP, we would have a more concrete answer to that. But yeah, you’re definitely going to be seeing a lot more from me. Like more music, tours and all of that.

Have you ever regretted anything in your career?
Basically, I hate regrets, because I feel like every decision I make, at that point, was like the exact decision I wanted to make. Yeah, no regrets; I am living a life of no regret. That’s basically what it is.

What about your family? What was it like?
Yeah, they did, because my dad was a pastor, but when we just started out, a lot of people usually come to him like, ‘oh, these are your children…’ However, my dad used to tell us – me and my brother – that we can always do whatever we like, but know where you are coming from. But apart from that, we’ve always been good.

So, what is he saying now that you’re going into music? What is he saying? 
Yeah, we are good. He just always reminds me. Even some days ago, he still reminded me, he was like, ‘I’m sure you know your limit; keep it up. I love your new song.’

I’m sure everybody would wonder why you don’t have Olamide on this EP? 
Funny enough, Olamide and I have a lot of records together already. None of them are on the EP, but they are definitely going to come out, you know. On the EP, I have a lot of already recorded collaborations.

But on the EP, because I had an idea around it, most of those songs didn’t make it in the final cut, but yeah.

On a lighter note, let us wrap up with this. Tell us one thing people don’t really know about you? 
Alright, I don’t always feel comfortable when I am on water- like I easily get sea sick.

What about the craziest thing a fan has done to you?
Stalked me to my house.

When was that?
That was a while ago, but I mean, it’s all love. Like I feel people have different ways of showing their love.