Dami Oniru Talks Musical Upbringing, Politics In Nigerian Music Industry & EP - AfroGbedu | Appreciating African Music

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Sunday, 17 March 2019

Dami Oniru Talks Musical Upbringing, Politics In Nigerian Music Industry & EP

Following exclusive chat with afrobeats duo, El'Vee , fast rising beautiful R&B singer, Dami Oniru is the latest star to be interviewed.

Influenced by her mother who would listen to songs from Brandy, Beyonce, Usher, Jaheim and Keyshia Cole, as well as her uncle who would play a lot of music on his personal deck, Dami fell in love with music so easily.

I remember my mom had this huge case of CD’s from loads of different artists such as destiny’s child, Jaheim, Freddie Jackson and my uncle introduced me to John Legend, there was literally music everywhere I turned.

In December she started a label imprint Chase Music with fellow artist Jinmi Abduls, under which she released the ‘Iyawo’ single.  The song got a reggae remix by Odunsi which Dami totally prefers even to the original.

AfroGbedu caught up with Dami to talk about her new EP, growing up and the structure of the Nigerian music industry amongst other things...
What is your background?
I was born in Atlanta, Georgia and moved to Lagos when I was 3 years old and was basically back and forth till I left to the UK for a levels in 2013.

Growing up was soooo much fun, even though I was an only child then, I was always surrounded by other kids one way or another and I used to travel a lot... so that was great! my aunties and uncles always kept me entertained... from taking road trips to Orlando and Tennessee to just spending time together every day and bonding through music and just family time really. I've been surrounded by so much love that I have so much of it to give now. Uhmmm.. I think its influenced my music in terms of how intentional I am about what I create, I try so much to incorporate as much love, honesty and emotion as I can so that my songs can be felt literally... I want to be able to take whoever is listening on a journey.

Which artist inspired you the most growing up?
Brandy Norwood.

What does a new year mean to you?
I’d say a new year means to me what each new day means to me; a new beginning … every day I wake up and thank God for keeping me alive and I attempt to do better than the day before.
This is the energy I try to keep all year round… it’s not easy, cos life and obstacles, but it’s the thought and effort that counts, and I know it’ll all be worth it.

Did you set out to become a musician?
I mean I guess so, I really just started in 2016. When I was younger though, I read this Ben Carson book titled ‘Gifted Hands’ and decided I wanted to become a neurosurgeon till I found out that the sciences were not my thing and I got lost in the music.

What moment made music the way forward for you?
For as long as I can remember I've always been surrounded by music so falling in love with music was easy. Growing up, everyone around me had their collection of CD’s ... I remember my mom had this huge case of CD’s from loads of different artists such as destiny’s child, Jaheim, Freddie Jackson and my uncle introduced me to John Legend, there was literally music everywhere I turned. I fell even more in love with music when I realized that I could sing at age 14 and I just knew that was what I wanted to do forever; create music that made people smile and feel happy. I loved the way it made me feel too. There’s just something about music, it has healing power.
Why is it difficult getting into the music industry?
Nigerian music industry in particular, is fairly easy to get into I’d say... but there’s no structure, so it’s a bit tricky, but we make it work. I wish this wasn't the case though.

What’s something you learned early on in your career that made you a better artist?
I'm still learning lol, I'm relatively new at this. I'm always monitoring my growth and learning from each move I make and how I can do things differently if presented with similar opportunities.

Who are the next big female artists you’re currently obsessed with? 
Tems, SomaDina, 234Jaydaa.

If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be? 
Definitely the structure, I just wish the Nigerian music industry had a more rigid structure to it.. you know, in terms of publishing, royalty collections for artists, songwriters, producers and the lot.

Have you experienced situations where you feel you were treated as a lesser artist simply because of your gender?
I haven’t been in any of those situations personally, no! however I'm aware that it does happen occasionally, but that it’s any industry really... still doesn't make it okay.
What’s a wardrobe staple for you at the moment?
Slightly oversized shirts/T-shirts, caps and sneakers ... comfort is my middle name (not literally) ...I just love being comfortable.

Are you dating someone?
Wow, okayyy !! lol, single pringle over here.

Who would be your dream artist to collaborate with? 
Mehnnn, I have a l wholeee list, but off the top of my head Brandy, H.E.R, Timbaland, Justin Timberlake.

In 10-20 years’ time, what do you want the legacy of Dami to be remembered for? 
Creating Timeless, Soulful, Music with the power to bring healing and make you smile 🙂.

Your new E.P is out now, what inspired the project?
Simply put, past experiences, the different cultures and sounds I've been exposed to and my absolute love for R&B.


What challenges did you face whilst recording the E.P and how did you overcome them? 
Honestly speaking, we didn't have any challenges. Thank God it was a smooth process. Best experience ever.

Do you think African female musicians need to work harder than their male counterparts for the same recognition?
That’s the stigma, yes. But I believe, any one regardless of their gender should be working as hard as they possibly can to get what it is they desire. I also think that while some form of competition is healthy, the person you really should be competing with is yourself, I mean everyone’s path in life is different, so it’s not about who can get there first. Set a record, then break it !

What do you do in your leisure time?
At the moment I actually get much of that, but I try to catch up sleep, I code (or rather brush up my skills).

What do you want out of 2019?
I just want to see what more God has in store for me. We’re just in March and "Bri’s Lounge" is honestly blessing my life… so many great opportunities that have opened up for me. Hopefully, I’ll be able to share soon. I'm just really Grateful to God and to everyone who’s been listening and sharing, you all mean the world to me and I can’t wait to see what comes next. Really just want to see how far I can go with this music thing. ( I want to go on touuuur shaaa, and write for hellaaaa artists).
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