13th December, 2013
Chuks Austine, better known as Ace, has registered himself as one of the stars to behold. In this interview with BAYO ADETU, the afro-pop and hip hop singer talks about his career, music industry and other issues
When and how did you start music?
Basically, my professional career started in 2009; that was when I got into the studio and recorded a couple of songs, which basically got some attention. I was schooling in South Africa at a time, and later, I came back to Nigeria to work with some guys who said my music is good. The first time I performed in Nigeria was at the Sound City Urban Concert. That was how my music career started, but I have always been a music lover, a fan and student of music.
At what point did you discover the potential of being a musician in you?
I think it was in 2009, because I recorded a song that actually got people’s attention, and they were like, ‘this song is nice’, and that was how I got more encouraged to do this.
Your new single Jeje, has a good afro beat influence. Do you have any affiliation with the late Fela Anikulapo-Kuti?
The relationship is that Fela is a legend; he left some blueprints in the music world and I have always been a big fan of Fela, and my music is actually heavily influenced by him. The day we produced the song Jeje, we watched Fela’s documentary and I called my producer, EmmyAce, who actually produced the track. We really got influenced by Fela to record the song, and then, afro beat is a genre of music that is getting much bigger. We are just trying to be creative by bringing something out of it.
Generally, where do you get your inspiration from?
My inspiration comes from everyday life, culture and engagement with people; some situation that I witness. Sometimes I write them up. I’m a songwriter, so there is the tendency to paint pictures and engage your audience.
What do you think is your strong point as a musician?
As a musician, I think my strong point is my vocals, and the fact that I can also produce music. I’m also a good dancer. I think I have been blessed with all the good qualities to step out there and say I’m a musician.
Having the qualities of a dancer, writer, producer and a singer, how do you intend to strike a balance in such a way that one will not suffer from the other?
I intend to strike a balance by entertaining; that is why I do this, I want to entertain.
Which of them do you enjoy doing most?
I enjoy performing because when I get on stage, I get very energetic, I love to dance and I love to see people react. For me, I didn’t know I was going to be a producer today, but I love music so much and I want to get the best beats.
The impression out there is that most entertainers can’t perform on stage without taking stimulants. What is your reaction to this?
I think people want to have fun, and have a happy state of mind. I will not support the use of drugs, but if I’m backstage and show organisers serve drinks, which are likely to be alcohol, it’s not out of place for me to drink it, but that doesn’t mean I can’t perform without taking it. As a matter of fact, I’m more energetic when I haven’t taken any alcohol. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to drink, but excess of it is what I don’t support.
Generally, what’s your view on the Nigerian music industry?
Some people say the industry is big; yes it’s growing because there are a whole lot of talents in the Nigeria music industry, both known and unknown. To me, I think it’s a growing industry and I like it.
How will you compare it to its counterparts abroad?
Nigeria is a country with a huge population, and our industry is the biggest in Africa right now. If you go around the world to count the population of Nigerians in other countries, you will realize how big our music is, and it is going to be bigger and better, and definitely going to be more entertaining.
Till date, no Nigerian artiste has clinched the Grammy Awards, despite the growth in the industry. What do you think is wrong?
Femi Anikulapo is a four-time Grammy Awards nominee; that says a lot and I just look at it like this -with the whole lot of talents coming up, we will get appreciated one day. I know that one day, we will get there.
Content wise, how will you rate the industry?
Content wise, I believe it is average; we have a lot of good rap artistes out there who will give you heavy lyrics. But at the end of the day, there is a stereotype kind of music that Nigerians want to listen to, so there is a situation where the artistes will have to dump their intellect or original style to blend with what is in vogue. But for me, I will not compromise my music.
How do you intend to fit in perfectly by having a good content and at the same time be commercial?
My view is that we take what the industry is right now, and make it better because we always have those artistes who have revolutionalised the music industry. If you look at Nigeria for the past 10 years, you will realize that different artistes come to change the trending sound. I’m versatile. I play many genres of music, so I can’t be stereotyped. But I believe the industry is getting there.
What do you think is the major bane of the industry?
I will say that is piracy; it is a big problem because it’s killing artistes here. But if we can treat that I believe it’s going to make the industry grow.
What is the most shocking thing a female fan has done to you before?
One day, I was in the club, and as I was stepping out, walking to the car with my friends, a couple of girls just saw me. They just start screaming, they couldn’t stop screaming my name, to a point I became nervous, and they started screaming ‘we love you,’ and all of a sudden, one of them jumped at me and started kissing me. It was shocking and embarrassing somehow, but as a celebrity, I should enjoy it.
What is your daily routine like?
I wake up in the morning, pray and have breakfast. Sometimes, I walk to the studio, or go out with friends.
What is your most cherished possession?
My life; when there is life, there is hope. When I have my life, I can do anything. My life is my most cherished possession.
How do you see the future?
The future is bright; I believe God’s design in my life and in the life of people around me.