INTERVIEW: Why Hit Songs Don’t Automatically Translate To Money For Nigerian Musicians – Producer, Deratheboy
At 23, Odera Ezeani Godfrey, also known as Dera (Deratheboy) has achieved a feat that some of his peers dream of; a grammys award-winning Nigerian producer.
Deratheboy co-produced two tracks on Burna Boy’s Grammy-winning album, “Twice as Tall”, released in 2020.
He has produced music for such acclaimed artists as Marcus Mumford, Sauti Sol, Joeboy, Oxlade and Major Lazer, the American electronic dance music DJ trio.
Major Lazer earned a Grammy nomination for Best Dance/Electronic Album for the Reloaded version of their 2020 LP “Music Is The Weapon.”
In this interview with PREMIUM TIMES, he talks about his humble beginnings, his craft and the intricacies of the Nigerian music industry.
PT: How long have you been producing music?
Dera: I’ve been making music and producing professionally since 2019. Before that, I was producing, but I wouldn’t say professionally.
I used to take it as a hobby, but now it’s still a hobby because I love what I do. After all, the music goes further than expected.
Now I try to make sure music inspires people, so I make music for myself and for the world.
PT: How and why did you start producing? What inspired you?
Dera: Initially, I wanted to be an artist initially, but I didn’t see myself going far with that.
I also didn’t see myself going far with the production, but I felt more connected to making music, producing music and being behind the scenes.
PT: What makes a song suitable for you?
Dera: The vibe, the subgenres, the drums, especially now that Afrobeats is now diverse. People do random sorts of them. There are subgenres within the tracks, there is Afropop, Afrohighlife, AfroJazz and so on. What sets the music apart is just the mood.
PT: Budding growers may wonder what they need to get started. What was the first set of hardware/software you purchased?
Dera: The first thing I received, related to music, came from my mother. She bought me a mic, but it wasn’t the mic I wanted. I wanted a good recording mic, and she couldn’t find the right one for me.
I couldn’t do anything with it, but I kept it because it was of no use to me. But I enjoyed that. It just showed me that she was willing to allow me to take music seriously.
The first thing I bought for myself would be a sound card. It’s from someone who bought it from someone, who bought it from someone. It was so old. This is the sound card here, and this sound card has been with me for about eight years now.
PT: What are the main lessons you learned that other budding musicians and producers could learn from?
Dera: One thing I’ve learned is to take your vibe and carry on with your vibe because you’ll never know if you’re creating something new, and you’ll never know if you’re doing something that someone never did. heard before.
So I think one piece of advice I would give is to keep going with your vibe and keep believing in your unique production.
PT: Who are your favorite artists to work with here in Nigeria, and who are your favorite artists to work with internationally?
Dera: I would say Joeboy, because when it comes to making music, we’re fantastic. It’s easy to get a vibe with him to create music. So I would say Joeboy, I would say Rema. Rema is also easy to use. He’s cool. Arya Starr too.
Then, internationally, I would say Diplo; Diplo is dope; he is a very open-minded person; he is very accepting of Afrobeats; he puts his touch on it when we work when we collaborate, and there are a few other people.
PT: What was the first song you produced?
Dera: Funny enough, people think it’s Joeboy’ Baby’, but it wasn’t Joeboy’s. It was Falz, and there was a song I did for Falz on Morale Instruction. I did this with a solo produced TMX. ‘Johnny’ Did it with another TMX producer, but didn’t explode. “Baby” by Joeboy was my first solo produced song.
PT: Which artists are you looking forward to working with?
Dera: I look forward to working with Drake. It’s funny that I say that now. Four years ago it would have seemed impossible if I had said that. I’m pretty sure it’s possible to work with him right now.
I look forward to working with him as I know I will be working with him soon.
PT: How did you feel when you learned that you had won a Grammy on different songs?
Dera: I felt good at the time for a producer, especially at my age. Getting such recognition and achievement boosts my self-esteem for music, and it gives me an extra vibe and energy to keep pushing.
PT: You said, especially at your age, would you mind telling us how old you are?
Dera: I’m 22, well, I’m 23. My birthday is in September, which means next month.
PT: What does it take to make a hit in Nigeria today?
Dera: To be honest, quite funny, right now anything can blow. Anything can blow; even the craziest songs can explode.
This is another reason I say nothing sucks; pay attention to what I just said? Right now, something may not look good to me, but it may look good to everyone in Nigeria; that’s how expensive it is.
Right now, music is unlimited.
In Nigeria, a hip hop song last year, if I’m not mistaken, a year or two ago, music that Superboy, Check, made – ‘zoom’. It was the number one song for almost six months. Everything that is right now “can blow” in Nigeria.
PT: Does having a hit song automatically translate into money for an artist?
Dera: No oh, for where? Zero, no. I think having a good song can open doors for you. What gives you that money is what you do when you walk through those doors. When you walk through those doors, what you do next is what separates you (an artist) from the rest.
PT: Have you ever produced an unexpected hit?
Dera: Yeah. It’s from Joeboy, Oxlade – there was a song I did for him on his Oxygene EP, ‘Hold on’. It was a massive song after a week. It was the second most trending song.
PT: Nigerian producers share similar beats because the songs sound alike. How can your listeners tell the difference between your productions and other producers?
Dera: For some strange reason, I don’t even know, and I don’t care. Suppose I decide to make the same sound for the rest of my life. Anyone would like to do different things; I could use a beat sample – Blaze Beats; he is an amazing producer.
When I hear flame beats, I’ll know it’s his beats; it has rhythm in its beats, its melodies are beautiful and its parts are constantly changing. His drums sound the same, but his songs are giveaways, making his music unique.
Also, people have their signatures and labels. I have mine, but I don’t use it much anymore.
Generally, so far, what I’ve done with late and unreleased songs is very different from what I usually explore.
PT: Speaking of what you’ve done, should we expect anything this year?
Dera: Yeah, some songs coming out, some things I unfortunately can’t talk about, some things I’d like to say, but you know what it is.
PT: Which international producer have you worked with?
Dera: I worked with Sauti Sol. They are also producers, also Wonder Girl.
PT: And the artists?
Dera: Justin Bieber, Major Lazer, Bad Bunny, Marcus Mumford, Cold train, Miraa may, Majid Jordan and Jbalvin.
PT: How did it go with Burna Boy?
Dera: It was just okay. I’m not going to lie and say we were so close. Someone just took me to his house, I played him some random beats, and he picked one. He recorded half of it with me. We couldn’t finish it that day, so he said, you know what – he would finish the recording and send it to me the next day. It was “Real Life” with Stormzy.
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