Savage: So Confident
By Rita Okoye
Afrobeat artiste Savage, born Essi Ogaga is one of the fast-rising stars on the music landscape. Within a short spell, Apple Music named his song, “Confident” as ‘Track Of The Week’ followed by a recognition as the cover artiste for ‘Africa Now’, the biggest playlist for the region on the international music streaming platform. He released Utopia, his 10 track debut album on Friday October 14.
In Utopia, Savage seeks to show the wide array of sounds under this genre, and his mastery of them all. It parades tracks such as ‘’Confident’’ with Buju , and ‘’Rosemary’’ with Victony. The project also featured notable guest appearances including Kenyan rapper Khaligraph Jones, Kida Kudz, Kojo Funds and Skiibii.
Savage, the 26 year-old Mathematics graduate of Delta State University, Abraka, says he wants to be a global sensation by letting the world hear his sound of music.
In this encounter, he shares his dreams and aspirations with Allure.
How did you get involved with music? When did you discover your talent and how did you hone your skill?
For me, music was my everyday life. I discovered my talent at a very young age. I recall how I used to do freestyles at my leisure.
What influences drew you into music?
I grew up around music; from my family, to my friends. At home, my dad would play his classics and blues every morning; my mum would play her Afro music in the car. My friends in school all wanted to make music and that led us to forming a band called “Team Nawty.”
Music is just part of me, my life had a lot of music in it; even my grandmother loved music and was in the choir.
In what way did you try to be different considering that there were already many successful artistes on the ground before you joined the music industry?
Honestly, I didn’t try to be different. I just focused on being myself. We are all different people with different experiences and inspirations at the end of the day.
What were the early challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?
I was not stressed or worried. I always believed in my craft and I knew I would blow up when the time was right.
Which artist intimidated you and which one inspired you the most?
I’m not intimidated by anyone. If you say inspired, my answer would be, yes. I have been inspired by our young legends such as Wizkid, Burna boy, Davido.
Why an album now? What ideas or thoughts have influenced the kind of music that we should expect in your album?
My team and I decided that it was a good time. I have been working on the album for almost a year and I hope that everyone will see the effort that was put in, and enjoy the album like I do.
Growing up in Nigeria made me attracted to the club scenes and the stage. Life can be tough; so, I figured, why not give people upbeat music that is very relatable and get them moving.
Who is the inspiration behind your single “Rosemary,” and what has the reception been like?
By the way, Rosemary featuring Victony is my second single. I was inspired by the beauty of our black girls. Any girl can be Rosemary.
How would you describe your kind of music?
I believe my sound is chill and laid back, with some good energy. It’s something the extroverts can dance to at parties, and the introverts can listen to when they want to relax and unwind. Honestly, we have no control over how music is perceived by people so I don’t bother myself thinking about that. Good music will always be good music.
Before your debut hit song, Confident featuring Buju, what were you up to?
Well, I have a brand where I make custom denim and rugs (savage space couture). I did some music alongside but I just didn’t take it seriously because I had to focus on my business.
How do you perceive or respond to competition within the music industry?
My debut song wasn’t titled “Confident” for nothing. (Laughs) I feel Confident in myself and my music. I just want to make my music and chill. The sky is wide enough for all birds to fly. My focus is to continue to put in the work that would help make my music heard across borders, cultures and ages.
Can you share your experience as a Nigerian artiste so far? Tell us about the highs and lows moments?
Honestly, I wouldn’t like to think that I have any experience yet because my career is just kicking off. We keep learning every day. I work with an experienced team who are guiding me, and helping me avoid the “lows”. I have learned that one can leverage the experiences of smart professionals to avoid pitfalls others have made. Luckily for me, the road has not been bumpy.
What artistes home or abroad would like to collaborate with and why?
I admire Wizkid, and I would love to work with him! Likewise Omah Lay, Burna Boy, Kodak black, Travis, Don Toliver. Obviously, because they all make good music.
What creative edge do you think Nigerian musicians have over other African musicians?
The Afrobeats movement as we now call Afro pop, has travelled farther than most other African sounds, thanks largely to Nigerian artistes. It’s not surprising that Burna Boy won a Grammy Award last year. This year, Wizkid is most likely to get a Grammy nod with the biggest global summer hit song, Essence featuring Tems. I think our advantage is in our culture and spirit. Nigerians put in the work. We carry our energy from daily living into our music, nothing can stand in our way. The rest of Africa feed-off us. Trends start here before going round and the world sees this fact. This is why everyone from Beyonce to Justin Bieber are jumping on our vibe. It is what it is.
What is your long term dream as an entertainer?
So, the goal is not to play locally. I want to be a global sensation. I want the world to hear my sound.
What do you want your music to be remembered for?
I want to be a global sensation and I want my music to be remembered for its bold, relatable and positive vibes. It’s upbeat temple that keeps you moving, whether it’s tapping your feet or nodding your head.
What was growing up like? What cities and cultures shaped you?
I grew up mostly in Warri and Asaba, Delta State. Living in Warri made me strong because you had to be strong to survive in Warri and Asaba. It improved my intelligence because I hung out a lot around intelligent people.
If you can turn back the hands of time, what is the big change you will make to your life?
I leave the past behind me. Everything we go through in life is a lesson and those lessons made me the man I am today. I don’t think I would change anything.
If you wake up tomorrow and there is no social media, how will it affect your creative efforts?
Not just me alone but everyone will be affected drastically. We’re in an age where everything happens on social media. People don’t have time for TV anymore. Social media helps me to interact with my community of followers and fans. The best part? Social media helps my music get into spaces that I may never visit, and touch people that I may never meet my entire life time.