‘I’ve found another expression to my creative side’
In the Nigerian entertainment industry, Yinka Akanbi is no stranger having been around for a long time. After months of working underground, the actor cum producer in set for the official release of his album, Ajo. In this interview, he spoke on the new album and his journey in the industry.
You are known more as an actor and film producer, at what point did you veer into music?
In doing music, I have not strayed from my calling; music is an integral part of acting and producing. As a dramatist, I have never been part of any dramatic experience that has no music in it. Music is life. Ajo is a musical journey. Literally, it means journey in Yoruba. I have meant to do this for quite some time but the opportunity came just about three years ago, when I finally took delivery of my sound studio. I have since been working at different times and ended up with this ten-tracker titled Ajo.
When did your romance with music start?
My romance with music and indeed, the confirmation of the fact that will one day have to embark on this journey was during the Sisi Clara workshop in 1991, when Professor Wole Soyinka gave me the opportunity to perform The Song of the Lagoon Nomad after the demolition of Maroko. Before then, I had long been a member of OAU Band and went on to perform around campus then known as Bongo Man. Music has always been part of my life as a deep romance with the Gelede Festival of my childhood days in Ibara, Abeokuta and most times sneaking off to listen to the music of late Ayinla Omowura, Haruna Isola Yusuff Olatunji, Saka and many other Caribbean music as played on my father’s radiogramme. As a writer, I have done so many screenplays, written and published poems with a lot still in my closet. I have done so many documentary scripts and Ajo is just to me a collection of poems. In music, I’ve found another expression to my creative side.
What informed the choice of Ajo as album title, what does it represent?
The title aptly summarises my life’s journey as the album’s content is couched in the idioms of my trainings in my deep Yoruba culture. The power of my music lies in the message, the arrangement of the words and the interpretation by the producer. We both were not shy about doing things with freshness. I tried to be simple, not sounding processed. The rawness that produces truth told in purity but the thoughts and delivery, profound. I leave the final judgement in the hands of the listeners
Can you shed more light on the album? Is there anything you hope this work and your music in general can contribute to the industry in Nigeria?
The world is waiting for the music. Ajo is at one level highlife, on another, it is a combination of Highlife and Juju, while the rest is experimental. There are three collaborations in the album; I featured Yinka Davies in Femijubeelo, Bunmi Sanya in Omosalewa and JMJ, my long time friend, who is based in Sweden in Ajo.
To me, music is the truest means of expressing the purest; music liberates. It comes to you at your most humble state. Imagine you get to the studio and represent the idea to a producer who also picks out the central truth. Every beat, every note, rhythm, the total feel of the finished work is but the summary of the central truth. I know because I have been there.
What next after this album?
The world should expect more from me musically. I have some music waiting to be done. I have some produced already but which cannot make this album. As a never -say-never creative soul who believes in originality, expect more from me. You can only try but never pull me down. All I owe mankind is love and respect, service and not servitude. I neither hate the past nor pamper the present but prepared to meet the future.