Dj Spinall: The Unlimited Creative
Show me a man who excels in his crafts, and I will show you a Sodamola Oluseye Desmond, popularly known as DJ Spinall. A multiple award-winning Disk Jockey, DJ; record producer; song writer and one of Africa’s most celebrated DJs, Spinall is a fountain of talents.
CEO of TheCAP Music, the graduate of Electrical and Electronics Engineering who’s trained in several DJ schools both within and outside the country, is a DJ of many firsts.
He is the first African DJ to be endorsed by any international brand. Currently, he is the official brand ambassador for Smirnoff; a contract that has been renewed four times, and Pepsi. Spinall was also the first African DJ to perform at the SXSW festival in Texas, USA, and also the first Nigerian DJ to tour six cities in the US. In 2017. He was named official DJ for BET Awards in Los Angeles, California.
With a number of great singles, albums, awards, and an annual Lagos concert tagged “Party of Your Dreams” in his kitty, Spinall has further pushed the boundary for what an African DJ can achieve.
In this interview, he talks about his soon-to-be-released fifth album dubbed Grace, his love for spreading happiness, the story behind his signature cap, and much more. Enjoy.
When did you start DJ-ing; and what were your early passions and aspirations?
I started DJing in 2008. I just wanted to make people happy and ever since, that hasn’t changed. Personally, I love to fix things; to bring things back to life—like I literally do now. I also love to build stuffs and be generally innovative.
Who were your earliest influences?
Wande Coal, Jimmyjatt, 2face Idibia, Otega, Funk Master Flex, Calvin Harris, Avicii, just to mention a few.
At what point did you decide it was DJ-ing and nothing else?
I read engineering in the university and till this day, I’m still surprised this is what I am doing; but I love it. I’ve always known, without any iota of doubt, that I will be great at whatever decision or career path I choose.
I could remember too that while in secondary school, Lagos State Model College Meiran, where I was fortunate to be the Social Prefect for my set, I hired a DJ and was so impressed by his performance. So, I told myself I was going to look into it and that turned out easy because I have genuine love for music.
Did you face the challenge most artists face with parents who didn’t understand creatives?
Oh yes. My parents were worried but they gave me all the support I needed as they continued to see that music is where my heart is. Till date, they are steadily giving advice and business hints alongside overdose of prayers and all kinds of moral support.
What do you personally consider to be the most incisive moment in your artistic career?
Everything and every project I have worked on, from my first gig till date, amounted to who I am today. I can’t point to just one thing.. I thank God for His grace and gift of hardwork. I am still a work in progress.
What is it about DJ-ing, compared to, say, producing your own music, that makes it interesting for you?
Both are beautiful and different in a unique way, and still intertwined at the same time. Everything I have learnt from DJ-ing, has been useful to me while producing.
The ability to change the energy of the room and watch people go from being sober to being full of life, is priceless. Making people happy is my all time mission.
You have released your fifth album, Grace. How personal is this album to you?
This is a very special album for me on so many levels. Looking at the times we are in and how much I have grown as a DJ and a Producer, is beautiful. My growth inspires me to be better. I can’t wait till everyone hears this album.
In 2015, you became the first African DJ to be endorsed by any international brand when you got signed on as Brand Ambassador for Smirnoff. Does that give you a sense of superiority?
That’s a beautiful win , not just for me, but for the entire DJ industry. The DJ-ing industry has contributed so much to the growth of our music globally, and deserves so much more.
You’ve done a lot of collaborations with respected artistes like Wizkid, Davido, and others. Which of these collaborations do you cherish the most and why?
You know it’s crazy because I have thought about this several times. But they are all different songs and meant different things to me.
How would you say technology has affected your style of DJ-ing?
Technology has transformed DJ-ing a lot over the years. From going to events with a lot of vinyl records to cassette, and CD bags, to now, laptops and Mp3. From Turntables to table top CD players, to midi and DJ controllers.
They all come with different experiences but in all, have helped simplify the job. Occasionally, they make it complicated too as you would still need a huge amount of talent to be great at your work.
Oh COVID! What a year! I’m really just grateful to be alive. COVID is a pandemic we all have to fight and work together against.
We are in the party season now. Any hope of your annual Party of Your Dream concert?
We are working on something different this year and will be announcing it soon. You will love it.
You have performed at several festivals around the world. Which of these have been most impactful?
I love getting on the festival stage and representing Nigeria and Africa to the fullest. I would say Glastonbury Festival; that performance was iconic and I am grateful to have been able to achieve that. The last Nigerian to perform there before me was Fela Kuti in 1984. That’s legendary. I’m grateful.
Do you write your songs yourself? How long does compiling tracks for an album ordinarily take you?
It’s collaboration; I co-wrote a lot of my songs, especially the new ones. Some were totally inspired by the artistes; but you can hear my distinctive adlibs or intros on them as well. An example is my song Nowo ft Wizkid. At the beginning, you can hear me saying “Everytime we dance, dem go dance, Everytime we move, dem go move, Everytime we shake, dem go shake, Baby girl whine your waist.”
Also, in GbaGbe ft Burna Boy, Ohema ft Mr. Eazi, Money ft 2Baba and Wande Coal, Everytime ft. Kranium, and On a Low ft Ycee, amongst several others.
What was your first experience like as a producer?
Very inspiring and funny story; I made a few sounds that I wasn’t proud of and the artistes heard it and were excited. That was how I made songs like “Hundred” ft Sarkodie and Yung L, “Lifetime” ft Wurld, “Serious” ft Burna Boy, “Everytime” ft Kranium, “Love you” ft Patoranking and so on.
What aspects of your earliest days as a radio DJ do you cherish the most?
Working on the radio is very different and very special to me. I learnt so much. There is so much to learn on the radio; I’m going to open one in the nearest future. One thing I cherish most is being able to be the first to hear the music and predict its success, and then, watch that happen. That’s special, isn’t it?
If you were to start afresh, what will you do differently?
If I could start afresh, I’ll learn to always share the little that I know with as many people willing to learn. To be honest without sounding cocky, I’m the most accomplished in the business as of today and I’m grateful for all those who came before me because their journey is a lot clearer. I have proudly trained 15 DJs and they are all doing good for themselves and providing for their families. My last protégée sent me a picture of his first car recently. That’s the best feeling ever.
Let’s talk about your signature cap; any story behind it?
It’s beautiful, right? (Laughs). It was inspired by my dad. Growing up, I used to watch him dress up in front of the mirror most weekends, when going for Owambes. He never went out without a cap on his traditional outfits. He says it’s an abomination (Laughs). So, as you know today, I’m the life of the party; so, I can’t step out without my cap too, as a mark of honour for my African root. I have modified the style in a way that I can rock it with whatever outfit. It’s trendy now!
What are the three values you uphold the most?
It’s important to respect oneself and every single person alive, regardless of class. Be there for as many people as you can, without expecting anything in return. Stay positive and love yourself!
What won’t DJ Spinall ever be caught wearing in the name of fashion?Skinny leather pants! (Laughs).