Femi Rabalicious Life is a Nigerian musician based in Canada. In this interview with Emmanuel Okafor. he traces his passion for music from the yard of the NTA House, Ibadan. He also speaks on the new projects he is working on.
I grew up in the TV and music world. My ‘day care’ happened on Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) grounds because that’s where my parents worked when we were kids. Piano, sheet music, song writing, camera, tape, media archive library, among others, were like oxygen to me. I spent a good chunk of my afternoons making bicycles and all manners of crafts out of colourful pieces of twisted pair wires littering the base of NTA transmission towers from time-to-time. I used to think those things fell from heaven given the way they just showed up and disappeared randomly. It was the first thing I checked for everyday as soon as I hit the ground and every time they showed up, it was like opening a Christmas present for me. Music and TV and all the art and science of that world were so much around me that I thought that’s how everyone grew up too. It was when people would look at me as a kid and wonder that I started to realise that was not the case. It’s just that by the time that reality fully dawned on me, I was too far gone to be able to change course.
You recently released a Christmas song. What informed this?
As I said, music is like breathing to me. I’m bursting at the seams with it. I’m currently working on a movie project and there are all kinds of songwriting and production going on around the project. We had planned to shoot a major scene just before Christmas last year but logistics didn’t work out. So, we postponed it by a month. But my fans remained hungry for something, so, I had to redirect the energy into something else in order not to disappoint them and that was how we ended up making a Christmas music video. I’ve had this particular song for over a decade. I was fond of using it to bug people who are close to me but decided it was time to unleash it to the world. When I recorded it, the boys got excited about it and from there, we just rolled with it.
As an engineer, how do you combine your work and singing career?
You remember what I said about music being like breathing to me? Engineering is like that too. My dad worked in the maintenance department of NTA. That’s where I got my engineering passion from. My mum worked as a secretary for NTA as well. That’s where I got my affinity for the tele-typewriter, and by extension computing. I grew up peering into spectrum analysers, connecting things, priming pumps and cleaning gravity drained water tanks, with music as the wrapper of everything. So, combining all has been the norm for me. Though I have two engineering degrees, I’m not licensed anywhere so I can’t really call myself an engineer. Rather, I own a business where I use everything I’ve had the opportunity to learn to solve real world problems. However, it turned out that signal processing and complex numbers are indispensable to the way we make music and pictures today. Everything comes back in full circle in the end.
What is your new movie, DKDD, all about?
On what the movie is about? Well, I really cannot wait to share it with you. Yes, DKDD is coming and you need to see it.
Any other project you’re working on this year?
I’m currently working on my new music project as well. The video will be shot in four countries where I plan to feature world-class models. I’m also working on my first West African Media Tour. 2020 is going to be a busy year for us.
Who is your biggest influence in music?
I take everything in, but as a kid, I loved Michael Jackson, Sunny Ade and Carman Domenic Licciardello (popularly known as Carman). I particularly liked Carman because of the way he made music and storytelling into one unified experience and you will find a significant part of that influence in the way I work.
The Nigerian music industry is growing in leaps and bounds at the moment but you reside in Canada. How do you intend making your music popular in Nigeria?
Nigerian music is global now and I pay my respects to all those who worked hard to make it so. I had done music all my life and it has become part of my everyday life. Now, there’s enough interest in the world that I might as well start sharing all the sounds in my head in the form of sound and picture media. Maybe that will finally help me be normal. For example, Jay-Z, Beyoncé and Kanye West don’t reside in Nigeria but their music is popular in Nigeria. Same thing with Awilo Logomba or Angelique Kidjo back in the days. Music is like that. And for the record, I had my education from elementary to tertiary in Nigeria across the cities of Ibadan, Lagos and Akure. I served in Enugu as well. Staying in Canada along with this background should count as strength for me.