Her petite stature is an unequal parallel to the depth of her talent and songs. Simisola Bolatito Ogunleye launched on the music scene like a meteor broken from the sky. Simi, the name she is widely known by, claims she’s found what works for her, and that is hard work and being unique. The afro hip-hop singer speaks to Newsbreak.Ng trio of Esther Okafor, Ayomide Tychus and Leonard Adedigba on various issues, including her current musical work with Falz.
Newsbreak: How did your journey into music begin?
Simi: I started by singing gospel music. I was drawn to music at a pretty early stage, writing my first song at age 10. As I grew older, I joined a group called, “Outstanding” in my church and religiously rehearsed with the group. I used to mime and sing; my involvement ignited in me bigger passion for music. I released a gospel album in 2008, titled, Ogaju. I wasn’t signed to any music label, but worked with Samklef; he produced the entire album I released. There was a special song on it titled, Ara Ile. I was just fresh out of university and eagerly wanted to produce a song. Working with Samklef was a big support for me.
In 2009, I signed to a record label, but I wasn’t successful. Due to that, I faced stress, but, now, I think the experience made me better. I have grown older and a better artiste now than I was in 2014. I am currently signed to X3M Records.
Newsbreak: You started out as a gospel artiste, but switched to hip hop. Could it have been that you didn’t find gospel lucrative?
Simi: Music is passion to me. I don’t have any particular reason for switching away from singing gospel songs; no one talked me out of it either. Besides, the switch was emotionally tasking. But, I can say basically that I write about diverse things.
Newsbreak: What is your take on the Nigerian music industry?
Simi: The music industry seems like a wild jungle and dynamic. Sometimes, the music industry seems a beautiful place to be, and at other times it is like a jungle where lions prey on deers.
So, the industry has its good and bad sides and one just needs to learn to adapt to them. It is important that one is not afraid of either learning or being criticised. The industry has come a long way. Also, there are good Nigerians who are worthy industry ambassadors in and outside the country.
Newsbreak: The music industry is undoubtedly male-dominated, while female artistes rarely become successful in it. How and what are you doing to stay successful in it?
Simi: First, I have to say I am favoured to be in the industry. There are people who have been singing a longer than I have, but haven’t broken through, so I am thankful. Staying successful requires taking your work seriously and having good work ethics. It is not enough to say, ‘Yes I have talent, so I’m covered’. An artiste must work hard and be unique to stand out. If an artiste churns out fresh and unique songs, music lovers will keep appreciating him or her. That is what works for me.
Newsbreak: What inspires the songs you sing?
Simi: I get inspirations from real life issues, what I see and hear.
Newsbreak: What would you be doing if not music?
Simi: A radio personality or a writer, though I don’t know what I will be writing on.
Newsbreak: What is your view on celebrity marriage giving they hardly become successful?
Simi: A lot of marriages do not last, because celebrities are in the limelight. I have been asked if I can marry a celebrity and my answer is “I am ready for anyone ready for me”.
But, I feel it’s important to keep one’s love life away from public interference and the social media, which has ruined a lot of relationships. It is advisable people learn to keep healthy relationships outside of media hypes or interference.
Newsbreak: Give us an peek into your background?
Simi: My name is Simisola Bolatito, an afro-pop artiste, I studied Mass-Communication in Covenant University, the last kid of 4 kids and I am also a sound engineer.
Newsbreak: Give us a hint on what your fans should expect next?
Simi: I just released a new music video and three new singles. I am currently working on something with Falz The Bahd Guy, due for release this year; and same as my album.