Monday, March 27, 2023

A Truth Waiting To Be Found, I Am Just A Small Boy From A Small Town – Deola Taylor

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As we set up for our interview via Zoom, I tell myself that Deola Taylor looks nothing like Deola Taylor. From his music and projects out there, Small Boy From A Small Town and his most recent EP, Blues At The Bar; I tell myself that he doesn’t look his sound.
Sporting a full-blown Afro on his head and a continent of beards across his face, he smiles, laughs as the network threatens to become a hindrance to what would become a thrilling interview.
Born Adeola Taylor, he can barely go five minutes without reminding you that he comes from Ondo state. It is in fact one of the easiest conversation starters with him. An experimental artiste and “arrogant instrumentalist”, his music is purposeful and he hopes to liberate. However, he has no plans to become the next Fela or Eedris Abdulkareem.
In this interview with music Content Creator, Edaki Timothy and Laurence Oke-Hortons, he discusses his music, inspiration, audience, life, love and what the future holds for the brand, Deola Taylor.
Your music isn’t the mainstream kind of songs that’s obtainable almost everywhere in Nigeria. What’s your definition of the sort of music you do?
I’ll say the message is actually liberation. It’s in two parts; the love and the life. Either way, the message is the most important thing.
Your most recent EP, Blues At The Bar is a take on love, romance and its paraphernalia. What is the inspiration behind the project? Why did you think it was time for people to listen to something titled Blues At The Bar?
I would say that that I was at this stage of my life, where I thought it would be good to put all the love stories I’ve come in contact with into a unique project. And I was going to sample a different type of sounds, and if you check the EP well, you’ll see I put them in colors. The same genre, but I tried to input different elements that could portray the feelings and carry out the message properly. So, I just felt like experimenting a second time with this project.
Some of the songs are your own personal love story?
No no. Not everything. I felt like there are some stories yet to be told. This work is a collection of some that I was able to borrow, that needed to be out there. That’s how I felt at that time, so I put them into a song.
Let’s go back to the first question, what’s your definition of music generally, this time not titled to your own sort of music?
For me, it’s a form of expression, and of course, it has a process and a message. It would be hard to give a final definition now, considering the fact that I am still growing and ideas continue to form and get better. However, I would say it’s in threefold; liberation, creative expression and a process. Even when I’m singing a love song, those are still the ideas I want to churn out.
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Liberation? Does that mean you plan on using your music to influence social change?
Perhaps, but what I do in my music is to ensure that no party or gender is looked down on. I listen to some songs and the way they describe the female gender is appalling. So, sometimes I take what I feel the male gender should be doing and put them into a song. The same way, I take what I think the female gender should be doing and make music about it. So, there’s a balance and no party is left out. It’s sort of a balance.Deola Taylor
So, you’re not making music to become another Eedris Abdulkareem or Fela?
The story is different. At some point, it is necessary to take lessons from the past, but you don’t expect me to sing struggle songs like Fela, Eedris or Tupac. There should be room for other approaches. Mine is different. I won’t just go about and start calling names or anything like that. We need more musicians to spark up conversations about reality. Make people know what’s going on. It’s until people have the information and knowledge that they can genuinely be committed to the struggle. That’s why I like Brymo and his music. He’s talking about all these things in a subtle manner, where if you pay attention to it you’ll get it.
Read also: Most Artistes Use Fela As An Excuse To Smoke And Be Rude – Seun Kuti
Talking about process and growth, would you say, your previous project, Small Boy From A Small Town and your current work, what would you say has changed between the interval between the two?
I would say my first work I kind of experimented a wide range of sounds, different sounds. If you listen to Apeke for example, or Olowo Nla or Onitemi, there are different type of vibration. However, I try to infuse the Afro element in my sound. Even when I do RnB, I try to bring that Afro vibe. The difference, however, was that I was kind of intentional about this second one. I didn’t want something too regular. I wanted a unique vibe that the listeners can grasp with. That’s part of the process I talked about.
Which would you say is your strongest skill as an artiste? Singing? Songwriting? Performing or just freestyling and vibing?
The truth is I won’t pick any out of those you mentioned, because I’m sort of sentimental when it comes to performance. I love performing and I know I’ve written good songs and content. If I’m to choose, however, I would go for performance. I have a flair for that. I am however a good songwriter and singer.
What’s the process of making music for you? Do you just freestyle or take time to write the songs and all that?
I would say it’s borne out of the messages itself. SBFAST is actually a description of the journey as a whole, so everything I’m creating must fall under the movement. I’m a musician from Ondo state and the story is kind of different here. So, I’ll say I try to pen down. I create from the scratch. I get the concept in my head, then I put the words that I feel would pass the message across. The perfect words to the perfect rhythm. There are some times I get some melodic inspiration, so I put those ones into words too. But most times, it’s from the scratch. From the keyboard to the sounds and all that.
Growing up what kind of music did you listen to and where would you say your inspiration came from?
I listened to a lot of music, but I would say Bob Marley. I love Fela so much. I love Damian Marley. Brymo is also such an inspiration. Respect to Asa and a couple of other artistes.
At what point did your career really kick off?
I would say 2017. I had a number of friends who truly believed in me. They believed in me too much that I had no choice but to just start something. The point I knew this music thing was really meant for me was when I met my partner and manager. We kind of grew from this side, Ondo state, so it made it easy for the movement to begin. Gave it a straightforward definition.
Back to performing on stage, how do you combine your stage personae with the normal Deola every day?
There’s a difference between Adeola and Deola Taylor. The latter is the product, the brand being sold. So, when I get up on stage, there are audience waiting, there are contracts and business underground that I have to just respect. As Adeola, there’s just me. Always at home. Just chilling.
If you were not singing or doing music, what other jobs would you have been doing?
I would have been a military man. Or a security agent, something like that (laughs). I kind of have a flair for anything of the force.
A military man and your EP is about love. How do you juxtapose or align the two of them?
(laughs) There is love everywhere. It doesn’t matter the industry you are in. There’s love in everyone. You’ve just got to let it show.
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Your project titles. How do you come up with the titles?
Trust me, it can not be overemphasized that music is spiritual. What you’re going through at a time or seriously thinking about, there’s a way the universe just connects to you. Blues At The Bar just came like what needed to be done at that time.
You play the instruments. Which would you say is your favorite?
(laughs) I’m an arrogant instrumentalist. My favorite is the guitar, but I can’t play. I can have my way around the keyboard and the drums, including the local percussion.
So, you play the drums better than Davido?
You’ll have to wait till you see that. (laughs)
What’s the future for Deola Taylor?
Well, it’s more work, hard work and a lot of push to the top. Expect more from Deola Taylor.
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