Allure Cover Story: Simi & Praiz Crooning To Success
They are young, talented and hardworking. Signed to X3M Music, Simi and Praiz seem to be leading the pack in their genre and that was evident at the Headies 2018 where they both won in some of their various nominated categories. Using music to tell stories of millions and connect to the heart of their fans, these stars are not stopping soon as they hope to use music to soften the hardest of hearts, and tell the best-untold love stories.
– Reaping the Fruit of Hard Work
With hearty laughs and his playful demeanor, Praise Ugbede Adejo, popularly known by his stage name, Praiz sits with us before his cover shoot in his printed silk shirt and jeans, showing us he’s ready to answer all questions with no ‘hot seat’ moment for him.
Since participating in the popular music reality show, Project Fame that brought him into lime light, Praiz has not looked back. He has gradually etched himself as one of the top R&B crooners from this continent.
Winning Headies a few weeks back, goes to prove that point. In this encounter, we wanted to know how the award-winning artiste and soul singer felt to be rewarded once again in a genre he is known for. But, in this chat, the soul singer opened up about his failed relationship, his music, and some dream collaborations he hopes to make in his life as an artiste.
Winning Headies 2018, how long have you been waiting for it?
I’ve been waiting for my next Headies since the last time I won my last Headies. And the last Headies was in 2013 for Rich and Famous. Consequent years, I’ve had nominations from seven to six to three and I didn’t win any. For me, I’ve gotten to a stage where, while I love awards and know that awards make you feel good an appreciated for all the work you put in, I’m at a level where I don’t allow awards be the determining factor to evaluate how my music is. Nominations came, I didn’t win any, but I’m happy that this year, I won something. It was about time you know (Laughs). Everyone knows I put in a lot of work and I know that what is yours is yours, I don’t even stress it. I’m grateful to God and the Headies Academy for the award and to my fans and my label, X3M Music.
Did entering the industry through a reality TV show make your journey easier?
Getting into the industry via a reality TV show had its advantage and its disadvantage. Its advantage is that while the show lasted, I was able to build a fan base. The disadvantage is that a lot of people in the industry don’t regard you as an industry person. So you need to work extra hard and prove yourself to be a part of the industry.
You’ve experimented with different genre, how do you feel to be awarded for Folashade after the experiment?
Anybody who knows my music knows I’m R&B. Presently, I have more R&B songs than any alternative, pop or Afrobeat songs. I am glad to have been awarded for a genre I represent. If you’re to name top five R&B artistes in Africa, I think my name will be there and I’m really excited and grateful to God for that.
What inspired Folashade?
Folashade was inspired by my last relationship; a failed relationship actually. It didn’t just work out. I’m grateful to God because it was an experience that inspired me to win big. I don’t take any situation for granted, whether winning, losing, everything is an inspiration and I like to draw out positivity from it.
You do have an interesting sense of style, what informs it?
The way I dress is influenced by how I feel. I try not to dress according to trend because it doesn’t make you feel original. If I feel like wearing printed shirt or vintage, I just go with it.
With all the made in Nigerian outfits you’ve worn, which of them would you consider your best?
It’s hard to pick, but I know I have favorites and Mai Atafo tops the list for me, followed by Jason Posh whose pieces I love rocking and then McMeka.
Who has been your greatest influence so far in the Nigerian music industry?
I can’t think of anybody in the Nigerian music industry but character-wise, I’d say, Tuface Idibia. He is down to earth. You’d rarely see Tuface with bodyguards. It’s not that he’s not security conscious; he’s a very simple man regardless of his achievements. His character inspires me a lot.
If you’re not doing music what would you be doing?
That’ll be soccer. If I wasn’t doing music I’ll be playing soccer. I know most people won’t believe me but I play soccer well.
Have you ever thought of giving up on music?
No. I have never thought of giving up on music. I’ve had frustrating moments but I’ve never gotten to the point where I’d say I’m done. I don’t know how to give up easily. I like to try and I don’t like to lose. So yes, there have been series of frustrating moments but what I try to do in those moments is to take a break, sleep and maybe party. I just take a break from what I’m doing or do something different from what I’m working on.
What would you call your best collaboration so far in the music industry?
That’s a tough one because I wouldn’t want to sleep on other collaborations because, every collaboration I’ve done, has opened a way or added value to me. It’s quite hard to pick a “best” but Sisi is a good one, Me & You featuring Sarkodie is a great collaboration, Oshe featuring Awilo Logomba in 2013 was great one because I used that song to raise funds for a child who was born with a hole in his heart. I will never forget what the collaboration achieved.
Interesting! So what collaborations would you consider your dream collaboration?
My dream collaboration would be Praiz and John Legend, Praiz and Adele or Praiz and Craig David. Now, that one I’m really looking forward to because I love Craig David a lot.
So what advice would you give to younger artiste?
My advice to young artiste is that they should be certain they’re in the right business. They must be good at what they do. They must be patient. Patience is very important. You can’t be entering this business with the mind to explode with one single. I’m not saying it’s not possible, but they need to realize that everyone’s destiny is set up differently. They must note that while patience is important, humility will take you farther than your talent. An important thing as an artiste is to also surround yourself with people who will tell you the truth instead of having yes men around you. Have people that’ll tell you your song is good but also point out things that are genuinely wrong with your song. People that will tell you the truth because they want to see you grow not people that say yes to everything. Above all these I have mentioned, have God, he’ll guide you to help you have all I’ve mentioned and even more.
– Connecting Hearts with Music
Born Simisola Bolatito Ogunleye, she took on the name Simi when her music career began. The thirty-year-old Mass communication graduate is a multi-talented vocalist who started her singing profession as a gospel singer with her debut studio album, Ogaju, in 2008. But in a bid to express herself on other issues, she went mainstream, receiving spotlight with songs such as Tiff and Jamb Question.
After releasing singles and covers to get noticed and get a good deal, she was finally signed by X3M music in 2014, a label under which she has won series of awards. Simi released her second studio album, Simisola in 2017 and she recently won three awards from tracks in the album for Best Recording of The Year, Best Single and Best Album at the Headies 2018.
Talented Simi is a product of Covenant University and as the last and only female of four children, she couldn’t help being a Tomboy, a lifestyle evidently seen in her sense of style.
How does it feel to have won three awards in one night?
Exhilarating, it makes me feel gingered to do more. I feel blessed and very thankful.
At the beginning of your career, did you think you’d come this far so quickly?
I don’t think that this is “this quickly”. People always count the beginning of our hustle from when they knew you: but, it has been longer than that. I do feel really blessed and favoured through my journey. I started as a gospel artiste and later decided to go into mainstream. When I did, everything went well for me. I believe that if you do the work, good will come eventually. Everybody’s story is different.
Why the switch from Gospel to mainstream?
I just wanted to be an artiste and be able to sing about anything that I was feeling. I wanted to be able to express myself in my fullest capacity and do music for music, that’s why I switched.
Your songs are mostly love songs, any plans to deviate from that theme anytime soon to follow trends?
I actually tweeted recently that I was feeling like, I should do a “Shaku Shaku” song, but I think the phase has passed. Again, that’s the thing about music or creativity: you don’t totally decide on what you feel, the feeling just comes. Sometimes, you have a feeling to do something else, sometimes you follow the feeling, and sometimes you move past it and never bother trying. Although I have more love songs, I do other songs too like Aimasiko, Owanbe, and Original baby. I’ve also tried my hands on other themes.
What informs your sense of fashion?
Well, I’m just an advocate for comfort. I like to be comfortable and that’s what informs my decision whenever I want to wear anything. It’s funny how my dress to the Headies, despite how much people loved it and how beautiful it is, nobody is asking me about it. They always talk about the ones they don’t like that I liked because I was comfortable in it. I’m not a fashionista and I am not trying to be one. So when I make my fashion choices, I’m making them based on how comfortable I feel and how much I like it. If I like it and it’s not comfortable, I’ll still rock it!
Who’s your favorite Nigerian brand?
Well, I really won’t want to pick on anyone because I know they’re all doing great. I just wear clothes . I’m not so brand conscious. But if I have to pick, then it’ll be the designer that made my Headies dress, Accost Collection. I loved the dress and some people said I rocked Balmain. I’m a tomboy who prefers sweatshirt, sneakers.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve heard about yourself?
Somebody once asked me what I did to become famous this quickly. He was like “what did you do?” My response to him was, I work. I work hard. But he was still insisting it had to have been more than that. Some people really think I must have taken a shortcut which is strange. But I understand, it’s human nature, that’s how we are.
What are the challenges you have faced in your profession?
To be honest, I think I’ve had it easier compared to other women in the industry. I know that as women, we have to fight harder for things and that is a challenge. A women has to fight harder to get half of the result a man gets. Women have to put in double the work for half the result. This used to bother me when I just started singing. I aways wondered why all my works receive less attention than some other songs it sounded better than. But I don’t know how to throw a pity party. I believe if you even want to throw a pity party, allow it to last for twenty minutes and move on. So when I realized that that was what was going on, I asked myself: what am I going to do about it?Then I started working myself through that while I hoped for the best.
What are the clothing pieces you cannot do without presently?
That’ll be my sneakers, jeans and wigs! I like comfort so much and you can just take them off… freedom!
How does the music industry treat women and do you think that has affected their productivity?
Not just the music industry, the world generally have certain expectations from women like, be married, be a mom, which is amazing. I look forward to having kids and having a balanced lifestyle. But we shouldn’t get carried away and forget that there’s more to a woman. It’s unfair when people undermine us and don’t see what we’re capable of. So when a woman strives for more than motherhood or being a wife, they say you’re forward, proud, not submissive, and rude. Focusing on all of these opinions can stomp your productivity. You’ll spend more time trying to be accepted when you should spend time trying to be a better you, creating better music. So live your truth and develop the thick skin you need to thrive in this industry because the truth is, people will talk no matter what, but when you don’t allow the outside noise distract you, people will come around.
Looking back at your life, do you think there has been any incident that would’ve made you quit music?
Yea, I was in that phase after I graduated from school and nothing was coming up. I attended Covenant University, great result and I could’ve done pretty much anything but, I was so determined to do music. My stubbornness, which I’ll say is the best thing about me, and can also be the bad thing about me, is that I’m really stubborn. If I want something, I go for it. My mom is my biggest supporter but at the point when nothing was coming through, she was like, maybe I should go and get a job and still try to save. But I’ve always believed you can’t do music part-time, at least not the way I want to do it. So just keeping the faith alive when things are not going exactly how you want them to go, and keeping your fire and passion burning even when the odds are against you. If you love music enough, you’ll keep going, just as I’ve been doing and nothing can make me stop music because I love it way too much. I’m not doing it for the fame or money even though the money is good. I am just genuinely in love with music