Nigeria’s emerging queen of Afro house music, Niniola Apata who has become a seasoned songstress to be revered across the continent with a fiery stage presence where she conjures a wild alter ego, has opened up on her life, family, career.
While speaking in an exclusive interview with Daily Sun, popular Ekiti state-born Nigerian singer, Niniola Apata who started her fame walk on the MTN Project Fame talent show as a finalist, placing third runner-up in 2013, has opened up her time at the MTN Project Fame, growing up in a large family, her chipped tooth and a need to remain original in an industry filled with musical clichés.
Here are excerpts from the chat;
What was it like growing up?
It was fun growing up, I grew up in a large family. It was fun having so many people in the house. I mean relatives. I come from a polygamous house, so we are many and it was fun.
When did your music career kick off?
It started professionally in 2014 when I dropped my debut single, ‘Ibadi’.
You were on the MTN Project Fame show, what was the experience like?
It was mind blowing. It taught me a lot, especially about being true to myself and loving Africa and projecting Africa through my music; that really helped. There are things that people can say and they don’t know that someone can pick it and it will stick. Being true to me was what I picked.
You didn’t actually win the contest.
I came third runner-up.
So without Project Fame, would you confidently say that you’d be at this point in your career?
I don’t know because I am not God. It is only what has happened and what has materialised that we can speak about, so that’s why till today I am very thankful. I used the prize money to kickstart my career.
When you write your songs, what comes to mind? What is your writing process?
The beat, the voice only complements the beat. When I listen to a beat, I try to get as much vibe and story from the beat, if it’s a dark beat, if it’s a happy beat, I flow and this is what I do. I vibe and sometimes in my ‘vibing,’ most times some words are there – some phrases – and then I sit down afterwards; if I like the melody I write to the songs to make sure that it’s complete.
Going by the title ‘This Is Me,’ is this basically all of you or are there parts to you that you didn’t include in the album?
‘This Is Me’ is a snippet; bits of Niniola. There is more to come. But just so you have a general overview of what Nini can do. People just think because of the ‘turn up’ songs and feel like I can’t do R&B, and those ones that know I know the R&B think I’m going to forget them and not cater to their needs and face only the ‘turn up’ people. I just wanted people to know that this is me and this is what I can do.
How did you chip your tooth?
That was in JSS 2. I remember I was in the house, my older brother was playing with my cousin, he was pouring cold water on her and I was like ‘Ah no oh! Don’t pour it on me’ and I started running. I was running, slipped and fell and all I saw was powder on the floor, I had chipped my tooth. It was a Sunday and I had to go to school the following day, I wanted to kill myself. There happened to be a girl, one of my schoolmates at the time, and then the following day, I just thought to myself that I wasn’t going to say much, I’d just close my mouth when I get to school. But when I got to school, everyone was talking about my tooth because that girl in my house got to tell everyone. I was embarrassed; it took a while to get over it.
Who are the three persons in your family you would consider the pillars to your career?
I can’t narrow it down to three people because everybody has played an important role in my life, so it would be very unfair and particularly for the sake of this conversation. I can’t pick three.
You make it sound so cool and chic, there must be challenges, tell me about them.
When you hit milestones and you are thankful for each day you see, you do not talk about the challenges, you only think about the challenges when they are ongoing but when you pass it, you will be like ‘oh thank God,’ then you celebrate. Of course, challenges were truly there when I started; I had major challenges with funding my project but then God made a way, my mum was really supportive.
Do you perform under any influence?
No, my head will scatter because I have a light head. Honestly, I don’t drink, before it used to be once in a blue moon, but now I don’t bother because I just drink small and I go ‘gaga’. So imagine if I drink before going on stage, I won’t be able to perform.
Are you in a relationship?
Yes, I am.
Is he anybody we know?
He’s not in the industry.