BOLG is a multi-talented musician from Kwara, Nigeria.
The artist recently released a single – Sempe – that has received rave reviews from all corners.
Hi, BOLG! Can you tell us a bit about yourself? How are you coping with the lockdown?
I’m pretty good, thank you. My name is Gbolabo Dare Ogungbile, better known as my stage name BOLG – pronounced as B.O.L.G. My stage name came from the rearrangement of the first four letters of my name – Gbolabo. I’m in Lagos, Nigeria right now. Well, as much as the lockdown has affected plans and so many other things, I would really say that personally, it has been a moment of introspection and rediscovery for me, and it has been a blessing if I’m being honest.
What was growing up like for you?
Growing up was quite interesting. I was born in Ejigbo, Osun state, but I left when I was four years old. Spent a very little part of my life in Azare, Bauchi state, and from there moved to Omu-Aran in Kwara State where I completed my primary education. My dad’s job gave us the chance to travel across the country. Some of the most interesting things about my childhood were: spending time with my grandmother, my dad making me read so many books, putting their summaries into writing, and getting paid for every book I read and summarized. I think that really helped me a lot. Also, looking forward to the long vacations, Christmas, and some interesting movies like The Sound of Music, Home Alone and so on.
What kind of music did you listen to, growing up?
I remember King Sunny Ade’s ‘Golden Age’ and Yinka Ayefele’s ‘Bitter Experience’ albums very fondly. The thing is that I listened to a whole lot of musicians, but honestly, I didn’t really have a favourite. I liked them all but I was still a bit too young to comprehend what they were all talking about. Really, I was exposed to new music at every new location we traveled to. We had neighbours from different parts of Nigeria – shout out to Mr Salisu Farouk Sabo, so I got exposed to a whole new bunch of music artists and those were: Celine Dion, Brandy, Shaggy, Ja Rule, Destiny’s Child and a whole lot more. Mind you, my parents weren’t listening to R&B or Hip-hop in the house but the likes of Lagbaja, Ebenezer Obey, Lucky Dube, Dele Ojo and several others. Moving to the boarding house when I was ten exposed me to mainstream Nigerian music and Disney TV shows. In teens church, I listened to a lot of Hillsong, so they influenced me too.
Did your early music experiences influence you to start creating music?
When did you start creating music? When did you start pursuing it professionally?
I wrote my first song at twelve or thirteen, during some holiday and it was really funny [laughs]. I knew I wanted to become a musician but I dared not tell my parents – dem no born me well. I started taking music seriously after secondary school.
Who & what inspires you to make music now?
Passion [laughs]. Inspiration comes from some of the things I’ve heard, things that have happened to me, people’s life experiences and so on. I listen to a lot of artists but I think D’banj has to be my biggest influence.
How would you describe the kind of music you make? What genre?
I make music people can relate with. In the sense that I don’t sell dreams to people, I don’t talk about things I don’t do in my music. I can’t be talking about gold and diamonds I do not have – abi how I go dey deceive myself dey talk things wey no dey happen to me? [laughs]. I like to experiment with sounds but I do Afro-pop and Afro-fusion. I want my music to resonate with my listeners. I just want to be able to connect with my listeners and make them feel good when they listen to my music.
Do you play any musical instruments? Can you produce and engineer yourself?
Unfortunately, I don’t but I’m currently taking keyboard lessons. I don’t produce, neither do I engineer. I write all my songs, though.
When you create, what’s your process like? What are some things you do to get into the zone to create?
Like I said earlier, making music for me is always like trying to connect with my listeners. I can’t explain the feeling but when I’m in the mood to create music, it’s a whole new feeling I don’t understand either. If I hear a beat I love, it’s sometimes hard for me to overlook. It just comes naturally and that’s why I’m always with my phone -using my notepad and voice recorder to capture what ever idea I have at that very moment before I lose it – because the thing be like wave.
Do you make music for yourself or does your audience influence your direction?
Most times, I make music for myself. More importantly, I always want it to resonate with my audience. I always want a connection with my listeners.
Have you ever performed on stage? How did it feel?
Yes, quite a number of times. During my days at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. It felt good. But I was nervous the first time.
How is support from your family regarding your musicy?
Ha! [laughs]. It was very tough at the beginning. They are very supportive now, though. They believe in me.
What has been the most challenging aspect of your career as an emerging artist & producer?
I know this might sound cliché, but the challenge is the limited resources.
Will you rather be independent or sign to a record label right now? Why?
I would like to sign to a label only if the deal is worth it and our visions align. I’m still on the sidelines understudying the game.
What have you learnt the most so far in your music and life journey?
The major lessons are:
- Anybody can disappoint you. So, you must prepare your mind and face the fact that anybody can let you down anytime.
- You have to go hard, put yourself out there and network more.
- Not everyone will like your music and you have to respect that.
- Do not let whatever anyone says deter you. Focus your mind on what you want and tell God to guide you. Be disciplined.
Many artists have distinctive visual brands. What would you say is your fashion style? Do you have a stylist?
I don’t have a stylist. My fashion sense is some kind of vintage dressing. Some retro kind of dressing.
How frequently do you release music? What influences your decision on when to drop music?
I’ve dropped ‘Jejely’ and ‘Sempe’ this year, I’ve been working on myself – trying to redefine my sound. I am super excited about the reception to Sempe, so maybe I’ll drop another single before the EP. I drop music when I feel the song is good enough based on exclusive reviews.
What is the idea behind your upcoming project?
My forthcoming project is a reflection of how the Yoruba culture mixed with Westernization/Western Education has influenced my thoughts and views. I expressed this through the Afro-pop and Afro-fusion genres. It’s my debut and it’s really something to look forward to.
If given the chance, would you: Reinvent the wheel or build a new chariot?
Reinvent the wheel. I’ll consolidate on what would give or what has given me the attention and then move on that. You’ll understand what I’m saying better when my forthcoming project drops – make I no talk too much.
What’s the goal for you? What would a successful career for you look like?
To be one of the biggest and best selling musicians to ever come out of Nigeria and Africa. Selling out the O₂ Arena someday, selling out stadium shows in and out of Africa, taking care of my family, supporting the under-privileged, using my platform to introduce a new generation of fantastic musicians from Africa to the world, and retiring as a businessman.
Would you take a 9 to 5 job to supplement your income – do you currently have a job – or do you do music full-time?
Yes, I would. Yeah, I translate documents, books, journals and other materials from English to Yoruba, Hausa, and Igbo – and vice-versa.
Where can people reach you on all platforms ?