Interview by John Eni-ibukun, Article by Moyosolaoluwa Olowokure
African music experts who understand the trajectory of artists’ development predict that Kold AF is a rising star to keep within our radar. By making blends of R&B, pop, elements of reggae and other genres with Afrobeats into relatable and chill melodies, Kold AF continues her meteoric rise as she keeps listeners amazed with her dynamic trajectory.
With Kold’s music, we witness a brilliant fusion of music genres; saxophones, drums, and synths interact with vibrant vocals to create an enriching experience for listeners. Kold AF has always been big on collaboration and draws inspiration from various artists. Her Nigerian Roots are reflected in the songs she creates and enrich her artistic repertoire.
Since releasing her first single under a different moniker in 2021, Kold has gone through various phases of evolution and remains a fast-rising star in the music industry.
You are being pitched as one to watch out for in the present for the future of the industry, how do you deal with that sort of pressure?
Actually, there’s no pressure. I know where I’m going. I’m mentally prepared for it, so I’m more excited than anything else. I’m not pressured. I think the only pressure that I feel comes from within because I’m a perfectionist and I like to stress myself out, but, generally, nobody’s pressuring me.
Can we get a peek into your background as an artist?
I started music professionally in 2020. But my ties with music goes way back to when I was about 5 or 6 years old. So I’ve always had the inclination to join anything that has to do with creativity, music or anything related. And I’ve always loved it. But the problem for me was, I always thought it was a pipe dream.
I consider the number of people who took on creative pursuits and got nowhere with it so I had that fear. Also, the Nigerian experience doesn’t really help. I’ve always considered that I’d need that financial security. So in order to make a living, I studied Law in university.
But that wasn’t my passion. So I found my way back to music through a friend, Esosa. I started trying to understand if I really wanted to do music because I was literally going into a thing that I wasn’t uncertain about. I do not like uncertainty. But I’ve always known that if I don’t get to make music, it’s a disservice to myself. I don’t want to regret it later on in life – not following my heart. So in 2020 I made the big decision and I started making music.
Were there no obstacles in finding producers and then paying them?
That’s the usual stuff for every emerging artist. But the good thing for me was that whoever I wanted to work with wanted to work with me too. I just started putting stuff out and people who can see the talent will just get drawn to me.People who recognized my talent, wanted to work with me and I was calm with that. That’s how I worked with producers.
I did not have money when I started. I mean, I still don’t have the biggest account balance. But people who want to work with me reach out by themselves. And if I wanted to work with a person, I reached out as well, and we just got to work it all out. But the biggest obstacle is still money forever money, man.
I noticed that when you started, you had a record called Shimmer under the moniker Koel. I think that’s the only record you did with that moniker. What happened with the name and what made you change your moniker to Kold AF?
Koel is the name of a singing bird and I liked the name for that reason. I released Shimmer with this producer called Keziri, and that was the only song that came out because that was the first song I had ever written. Like the first full song in verses and chorus. That was my first full song. And it did so well. I was very surprised. I however wasn’t still confident in my knowledge of the music world I was just getting to grow into.
I took a break for the purpose of figuring things out. And I did. And so with the new era came the new name. I also had to drop the old name because a lot of people had that name on Apple Music and other streaming services. Kold felt new.
Have you faced any form of challenges in terms of creating as a woman in the Nigerian music scene?
As a woman? I think yes, but not on a grand scale. I feel like I haven’t even started seeing some of the madness yet and I feel it’s coming in front. You understand?
So far I’ve been blessed to have Excel Joab on my side. We’ve been doing well together since 2020. So he’s basically guided me, you understand. And you know, with that guidance comes a certain type of protection.
But nonetheless, I have had some producers and other people just wanting to always cross the line of professionalism, and they are always trying to bring in, you know, sexual stuff. And I’m quick to turn all those things down and never show up again… there are people who have tried to make some funny moves. You understand?
I feel very, very uncomfortable in those moments. And I burn those bridges. Of course I can’t particularly react in a way that is explosive. I would calmly handle the situation, but I’m never going back again. So, of course I’ve had that with producers on the sexual side.
On the other hand, initially when I first came into this music world, people were always saying they did not want to sign a female artist because they already have one female artist on their roster… I’m talking about the years before 2020. That was another issue.
I think another one is just the general preference for male artists. Like when I walk into a room, I’ve said this before, it feels like they’re more interested to hear what the guy artist has to say. Then I play my songs and you’re like, ‘okay, she’s good’. And that’s when I start getting noticed. It’s prejudice to me.
It’s like you have to be twice as good to even be noticed, that kind of thing.
Yeah, I’m not stressed about these things. I’m not fazed, to be honest.
I’ve noticed a pattern of collaborations with how you approach your records as well. I think that it’s kind of like also something you always keep in mind to – to collaborate with people… why’s that important to you?
Because I’m upcoming. Do you understand? I’m an upcoming artist. Upcoming artists, I believe, need to collaborate because it exposes you to other people’s audience and vice versa. So collaborations basically are very essential for me, and I’m very picky with the people I collaborate with because I have standards.
I make sure, however, that if I am collaborating with anyone I have to really love their music or production. So collaborations are necessary and essential. That’s why I do them.
So if you weren’t emerging, as you mentioned, you are not going to collaborate?
I still would, I still would. It still bridges people’s audience, do you understand?
It also helps to like meld and merge minds together. It’s one thing to just create art, and it’s another thing bringing someone else on board. It’s like a mix of creativity and it just produces madness. So that’s another thing.
You also love to be in creative spaces to perform. What does that do for you?
I go to every show that I’m invited to with the mindset that I’m going to earn one fan, which is very important because people know people. People communicate so they will always recommend an artist that they just listened to to someone else. All these things I feel are very, very important.
You get to build small communities here and there, like Kevwe and Cam, for instance. That’s like my family. Like I feel so comfortable in that space and a lot of them know me. That’s a community of people that I have become a part of.
As an artist now… with the way African music is moving globally, how do you think you’re positioning yourself for its future growth?
I think being a female artist right now is a good thing. I feel like things are changing real fast and right now, I’m just doing all I can to put my foot forward and be part of the change.
I’m still emerging, but that will not be for such a long time. And I think that right now this space is becoming more accepting of women, multiple women at a time, that is, and I’m going to be one of them very soon. And not just in Nigeria, not just in Africa, the whole world.
So my music right now as it is, it’s not just one thing. It’s not just Afropop. It’s not just Afrobeats. It covers a lot. I think it’s relatable. On that note alone, I am already well positioned and that’s not even on purpose.
There’s a question I ask everyone I through interviews like this one. Generally what matters to you the most and why?
What matters to me the most and why? God. I literally depend on God to guide me and everything that I do. I feel like he’s the reason why I’m here. So he’s the first.
My career is second because I am giving up a lot of things to chase it right now.
As I wake up in the morning, as I sleep, it is always music in my mind.
Third, my family… My family and friends really are competing with the second one, but like I need to make money so my family and friends come in next. Those three things I’ve mentioned are really important to me.
Asides from them, happiness matters to me generally because it covers everything. So these four things are very important to me.
I asked what’s the one things that matters the most, you mentioned four but that’s fine–
–God! It’s God! It’s God! That’s why I said it first (chuckles)…
At the time of this interview, Kold AF’s latest released work is ‘KOLLIDE’, a collaborative EP with Nigerian producer, BGRZ
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