Soü is a music producer who is based in Lagos, Nigeria. He is one of the few avant-grade artists residing in the city presently. He oscillates between three Nigerian cities actually – based in Lagos, he moves to Uyo and Port Harcourt from time to time for personal reasons.
Soü’s passionate drive for music, like most Nigerian producers, begins in church. He however unlike other producers stretches his artistry to whatever threshold his intuition calls for. Impulsive as he is, Soü has travelled to cities, hosted artists and has done so many crazy acts just for the sake of experimenting through collaborations. “AVANT-GARDE”.
I had the opportunity to work with Soü for the first time in 2022 when he produced Nile, a record in which Drummr Africa featured Eritrean/Canadian singer, Kibra for our Yamen Yamen collective album. At the time I hadn’t met Soü yet. I met him in the most random of circumstances.
Recently I met with Soü for the first time. After an exchange of pleasantries, we started to talk about his new project ‘Everything Dies’ which he created with Ugandan band, The Anasi.
I got to understand that Soü, although a resident of Nigeria, put together the band which has six members, all of whom are Africans of different nationalities and he has never met in person. How did he manage to pull this through and create a project with them?
How did you get into production? How did that lead you to this point of creating a music project with Ugandan band, The Anasi?
I actually started doing production in 2009. I was in secondary school then. I was just messing around with friends at school. Then we started using softwares like Audacity just to learn how to record. You know, with my normal earpiece on, using the microphone with the earpiece. So, I was learning and I actually started producing because I was a Rapper.
I was a rapper but at the time I was not getting the kind of beats I felt should be out there, the kind I wanted to rap on. So I decided to learn…
Did you check for beats online? Where did you find these beats you didn’t vibe with?
Mostly SoundCloud and YouTube. I used to check for sounds online but I could not find any producer here to help me out with my sound cos’ you still need to meet people physically.
And where I was staying then, in Mile 2, there were several studios but the producers were not giving me the kind of beat that I wanted to jump on. So I decided to learn how to produce those kinds of songs.
So, between me and you, do you still Rap?
[chuckles] Not really. I can give Rap Melodies – this is how it should go and maybe the beat – but I don’t Rap anymore. Then, I used to challenge myself when I freestyle. I used to Rap a lot then. Even in school I was known as a Rapper.
I was actually inspired to Rap by one of my friends, Faruq. We went to school together. So when he was rapping I was like “If this guy can do this thing, I can do it too”. After some time he left the school to go and continue his education in Chicago. So I was the only person left to carry on the rap ministry.
Because of my background as an artist I started learning how to produce but when I got into University, I just closed the chapter on my Rapper phase. I was mostly producing. Producing for other people.
I had to pause sound production in 2015 so I could finish school, and also, my parents were going through tough times. I studied Petroleum engineering in school. So, imagine a Petroleum Engineering student trying to pursue a career in music, like….
And I think that that’s a challenge many creatives in Nigeria can relate with. Where we have to pick between school and the ability to just create
Yeah… I had to put it on hold until I finished school. Then in 2018, I felt something was missing. I had to go back. I really love music. I love sound. So I had to go back to this thing that made my heart pulse. That year, I started teaching myself again from where I had previously stopped.
It was in 2018 I decided the kind of producer I wanted to be. I wanted to be able to collaborate with artists a lot.
I love to meet artists and work on sound. I love to draft new sounds for artists.
So how did you bring this vision of driving collaborations to life?
I started meeting artists, actually reaching out to them. I was not waiting for artists to find me, I was reaching out. Sometimes I’d even pay for an artist to come down and work with me. If I’m in another city I would fly the artist down. Especially when I’m sure that the artist is good enough to match my abilities. I’m very sure of my own skills.
I actually got that advice from Kel-P. He told me to always work with the best because that’s the only way to get better as a producer. So I worked with the best people I knew at the time.
I worked with a few people between 2019 and 2020. At that time frame I released my first song titled Bad For You with Moriah. I worked with him a lot. He is a really good artist.
Moriah used to have like two songs playing on the radio in 2017 or thereabout. I was working with him a lot. I also produced one of Yang21’s songs titled These Days.
I started reaching out to other artists too. It was in that period I worked with Wapo and produced his first EP, Walk On Water. I saw a video of him singing on Instagram and I reached out to him, and we made that project. I actually moved to Ibadan for the first time because of Wapo.
We made so much good music then. It was an experience. We were actually just locked in the house for like two weeks, just creating music.
I worked with several other artists at the time too. I worked with Marvy, who’s currently based in the US. I produced her record with Psycho YP. I also worked with Jason Nkanga on the production of Goko, a song he recorded with Faemous.
Were these collaborations the bedrock on which you built this project, Everything Dies with The Anasi?
Literally. Working with The Anasi now started when I was at Ibadan the whole of last year. I had started a proper nine to five in the city, and Wapo, the artist that brought me to Ibadan had moved to Lagos. He had work to do. So I did not really have any artists to work with. Other artists I had previously collaborated with in the City had begun to leave Ibadan too so I was looking for new artists to work with, and I could not find any.
Then I met these guys online. And it was easy for them to just send vocals to me. So I got the vocals and we started working together over digital platforms…
You were working a 9-5 right? In all of that, did your lifestyle clash with your production?
Oh, not at all. I was producing mostly at night. So I was doing my day job during the day, then at night I would work on my sound production up until 4am. I was even enjoying doing both together because when I made music, I’d be able to test them in my car speakers while I drive to work.
I remember when I made Escape, I said ‘yeah!!, this is definitely a radio record’ because of how it sounded over the car stereo.
So how did you get to meet an Ugandan band, The Anasi, if you were working at Ibadan?
I met them on an online platform where you meet creatives – Telegram. Creatives use Telegram a lot – artists, producers, what have you. They were not a band yet, they were just individual people. People that release music individually. They actually sent me vocals separately and individually but I already had this idea of it being a collective project. Their vocals and lyricism really resonated with where I was at the time so I just had to let them know what I was thinking. It was the vocals they each shared with me that set the mood for the project.
What informed the title of the project? It’s a relatively interesting title – “Everything Dies”
It’s simple – everything actually dies. I came to that realisation last year because my being in Ibadan was actually also an attempt at taking time off from my life. I had a heartbreak that rocked the foundations of my existence. Something like that had never happened to me before.
I lost my Aunt in 2007. That was the closest person I had ever lost. But losing my Dad last year just changed everything for me so I was basically just taking a timeout. That was when I came to the realisation that okay, yes, this is just what life is.
That period also gave me some space to reflect on my relationships with people. There were so many people, especially ladies that I used to be really really close with but now we don’t talk again. It almost makes me angry.
Why don’t things just have to be permanent? All these good times. Because what’s the essence of life? What we miss the most are our people and those good times shared.
Why can’t it all be permanent? No it can’t. It’s just how life is – you have to move on. Nothing lasts forever. Relationships with people, anything else – nothing in life lasts forever.
Nothing. Nothing. Everything is going to go.
And that’s how it’s going to be. So just enjoy that moment. Just enjoy it for what it is right now. If it goes, it goes. Always know there would be newer experiences. So, I’m always looking forward to newer experiences. It does not really make you a bad person. It’s just how life is. That’s how growth happens. When growth happens some things are going to be shed off, some things are going to fall off.
That’s what this project is basically about – our relationship with people and love.
I believe there were a good number of creatives in the platform where you found the people that make up The Anasi. Why did you choose this particular group to make up the band?
Because of their sound and their vocals, that’s the thing. When I listen to the vocals of artists, I know that this is what I want to work with. Theirs just bonded like that.
This project is a blend of several genres. I know that is not intentional as you already mentioned that you got the vocals for the records first before laying out the instruments. How did you decide on what genre fit what song?
Like I said, I was just doing me. And It was kind of intentional. I was in the mood of each sound that was sent to me. When I listen to an artist’s melody, lyrics and vocal texture, I know how great it would sound and what sounds to pair it up with.
For example, with Escape, when I listened to the vocals, I was just trying to work on my loops. I started with the keyboard which I twitched in some ways. So when I heard the vocals first, this is what I started playing with. I knew this record sounds like some festival, carnival thing that people are going to like to sing along to. Even though it’s dark lyrically.
I’ve noticed that most of the lyrics don’t match the instrumentals as well. Most of the stories are sad and vulnerable but then the instrumentals are very active. What was the thinking behind this?
I’m basically telling you that even though I’m sad, there’s no problem about it. I don’t have to be down because of that. I’m accepting that this is what life is. Yes. Let’s move on. That’s just what it is. Okay. So, because I’m sad I should listen to sad songs and cry? No! Let’s put our sadness on happy beats and move on. Music is the soundtrack to our lives and the themes of our life, regardless of what it is, can be placed on happy beats.
I’ve noticed that in your production you love to add some surreal background sounds. They are not made of instruments. They are just some other things. Why do you do this?
I love to play with sounds. I have noticed over time that music is a feeling. It’s how you feel. Very soon, I’ll be putting out a kind of music where there would be no lyrics, you will still enjoy it.
The lyrics are sound and they form melodies. But it makes more sense because Oh! You know they’re saying something. But really what is drawing you to any music is the melody. And that’s what I do with my music.
I don’t like complexities. There’s no need to make music complex. If a song needs an element thing it will be obvious. Maybe to someone else a song may need some other elements, but for me I like to keep things simple.
Since its release how would you describe the reactions you’ve gotten about the project from listeners?
This is the kind of sound that flourishes on its own. When people discover it they get hooked. And they spread it by word of mouth by themselves. That’s really interesting to me.
I’m actually not really looking at the numbers and its reach and its streams. I created this project consciously because I wanted to do this.
I am confident that it doesn’t sound like anything out there. I think it’s already finding its place in the hearts of those it resonates with.
There are different genres in this project so I am sure it speaks to different people in different ways. And those are the people I’m just concerned about. Like those I really speak to. I’m trying to attract them. I’m trying to attract my own people. That’s just what I’m trying to do. You can cry and dance.
What matters the most to you at this point in time?
Family, indubitably. I’m very big on family. I don’t really show it the way people expect but it’s true. Let me use the scenario of the thing about Drake and his son – it felt like he was hiding his son from the world. I think that’s how I am. I’m that protective of my family. You would see me barely make posts about them. I don’t want you to know them. I don’t want you to even know my people.
To some other people it’s like, don’t you love these people? No. I love these people to the extent that I don’t want the wicked world to know them. Because I can do something and instead of you coming for me you’re going after my family. So please don’t even know them.
I’m big on family. Family means everything to me. I’m the kind of person that even if I don’t get it, let my family get it. I have two sisters and my mum. Three of them. So I have three girls I’m taking care of. So, even if nothing good comes to me, let them have the best things. I’m fine with it. That’s it. That’s it.