By Funsho Arogundade
For fuji music czar and Mayegun of Yorubaland, Wasiu Ayinde Marshall, nothing can compare to the joy and happiness derived from the success recorded at the colloquium held in memory of fuji maestro, Sikiru Ayinde Barrister on Wednesday March 16 in Lagos.
In the euphoria of triumph, the 65-year-old musician fondly called K1 De Ultimate hosted select journalists inside his exclusive suite at Radisson Blu, Ikeja, Lagos. There, he opened up on what informed the Barrister colloquium, why he hasn’t released the video of his monster hit, Ade Ori Okin and what it means to love and be loved. Please enjoy it.
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For some time you’ve been talking about a colloquium in honour of the late fuji maestro, Sikiru Ayinde Barrister. What actually informed this?
If we all agree that the late Sikiru Ayinde Barrister was the symbol of fuji music; if we all agree that he was the face that got millions of people around the world attracted to that genre of music, then we should be able to put our feet on ground to celebrate him. I believe we should create an institution out of that establishment he made so that, in many years to come, there will be reasons for people to learn about the history of fuji music. For instance, the whole world believes in the role of the late Bob Marley as far as reggae music is concerned. Today, all (reggae) credits go to Bob Marley and his home country, Jamaica. So, that is the same thing we are trying to create in memory of Barrister, fuji and Nigeria where it originated. Fuji music has already established itself beyond our expectations. So, why do we have to wait for so long before we institutionalise the genre that God has blessed us with through Sikiru Ayinde Barrister? That’s what really informed the hosting of the colloquium.
People have been applauding you for the success of the colloquium. How was it like putting it together?
To be honest, this is not something you just wake up and say you want to do; it entails a lot of consultation. It was that consultation that took a longer period of time before we could host what you just described as a success. A lot of things had to be put in place. A lot of people devoted their time and energy; we sought inputs from some professionals, we sought ideas from people that we believed knew the end point of what we’re talking about.
One of the things you’re proud of was that the Fuji Musicians Association of Nigeria (FUMAN) started while Barrister was alive. Now that you are championing a colloquium in his honour, is this a legacy you too want to leave behind?
It is somebody that God will use to champion a cause. The late Barrister was my boss and mentor. He nurtured me so well to realise the responsibility he was placing on my shoulder. So, I need not be told when I already knew I am the future of him. That’s what informed my encouraging others to let us come together and organise ourselves, and then draft a document that will guide and lead us to forge ahead like a responsible, knowledgeable set of people. Musicians before us didn’t think in that direction. So, I sought his (Barrister) permission that I wanted to go ahead to do this. That’s what led to the formation of Fuji Musicians Association of Nigeria (FUMAN). In his lifetime, he saw the idea of FUMAN as a laudable project and gave me his blessings. I went ahead and that’s exactly what I did. For this colloquium, what we are trying to establish, together with other good people, is something that will outlive us. You have to put sentiments aside. This is not about Wasiu Ayinde showcasing his might and influence. It is about something that concerns all of us and the future of fuji music.
Talking about the future of fuji music, some music analysts have observed that 12 years after the death of Barrister, no new fuji artiste has emerged on the scene. People like you and the likes of Adewale Ayuba, Obesere, Saheed Osupa and Pasuma were already established before his death. What do you have to say about this?
I have heard people ask ‘what would happen to fuji after us?’ But the truth is that fuji has already taken its place. It is about the only surviving indigenous music that cuts across. Meanwhile, there are many young fuji artistes doing well including Shanko Rashidi and Kolade Onanuga. These are young, fantastic fuji artistes holding their own. I believe you are aware that 9ice, one of the most vibrant and talented young men in the Nigerian music scene, started as a fuji musician. There are so many others whose music is totally rooted in fuji. Look, the impression many people still have about fuji music is that of a musician with a minimum of 15 to 20 band members handling different instruments. But young musicians of today are no longer ready for such an expensive project.
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Probably, the youngsters only want to sample music…
There is nothing wrong with sampling. Take a look at my recent song, Ade Ori Okin, the track was sampled with few backups. So, we are getting there. In the last 10 years, part of our journey has been to ensure that fuji music was written as a note. So, now, we’ve been able to achieve one with Wasiu’s Ade Ori Okin. Today, that song can be played anywhere. It can be played because it’s scored on the note. Music teachers and people with experience in music have come together and agreed that we’ve gotten something we can call our own. So, you will be surprised that Ade Ori Okin can be played by a band of white men. A Caucasian band can play the song successfully because it’s on the note. We’ve achieved that. That’s where we are going and we are getting there. So, for those interested in fuji music but unable to afford a 15-piece band, they can now do it with as little as two samplers and four backups; that’s enough as a band.
Like hip-hop artistes, how do you think fuji musicians can equally latch on to those digital platforms to make money through streaming and digital videos?
We are in a hurry but we will get there! I know some of you want to see magic overnight. But common sense says that, as much as we are in a hurry, we must be very careful in getting some things done that will yield the exact endpoint we’re trying to reach. I can’t sit here to tell you how. I can’t do it all alone. That’s why I keep searching for people to bring ideas on how we can go about different things. But I have very many capable hands working with me. It’s a gradual process. The effect and success of the colloquium we had today, you will probably see when we gather for next year’s edition.
What’s happening to the video of Ade Ori Okin after more than a year of its release?
Let’s establish a fact here; not all successful albums or songs have videos. You should understand that not all songs that command followership today have videos. Video, for me… it takes a very serious mind. You must make a statement with it. I have gone beyond doing a video with five dresses and some females shaking their bums. Nope. If you look at the flow of that song, it’s about four tones before the chorus of Anu Morigba. It has significant meaning. So, we are just being careful shooting the video. We don’t want to shoot a musical video that will connect with the younger fans alone while leaving the older ones behind. We are just being careful. But we will surely do a video for the song and it will be very different.
You’re 65 but you hardly look it. What’s the magic of your looking younger?
Despite my very busy and tight schedule, I still find time to rest. I don’t deny myself those things that make a good living. When it’s time for me to eat, I don’t deny myself. So, in other words, I work hard and I also rest a lot. I don’t do things in excess and when you understand all that, you will feel good about yourself.
Lately, you have cut an image of a man so much in love and equally feeling loved. How true is that?
Every responsible man should love and feel loved. You should be open to love. I am so open to love and getting loved in return especially when I’m in the arms of my woman, Ajike Okin. She pampers me and I feel loved. But we both love each other and it’s heavenly when we are together.