This decade is bustling with young people making a difference for their societies and themselves. Young people in Africa especially are taking up the mantle and building companies, movements and cultural societies that will push their interests and in the end.
One of such companies is The Talking Drum, an online culture platform based in Lagos, Nigeria. Adedayo Laketu, caught up with Agbawo Nesta, film maker and founder of the culture magazine for this extensive interview.
So, what’s going on? What’s inspiring your vision?
Well I’m currently trying to put some things in order and at the top of the list is Drummer Fest 2017.My vision basically came out of a time in my life when I was really kicking myself because of my lack of talent. Seeing my peers’ talent manifest and I was just there. Then suddenly, I started seeing things in Nigeria and Africa as a whole that can be improved and I had ideas to improve them.
What is Talking Drum and how does it relate to the vision you saw, and the problems you want to solve?
Talking Drum is a growing media platform and it’s my first step in a grand scheme of improving Africa’s entertainment industry. Talking Drum’s focus is to bring the underground/new age African music into light and make it one of our exports to the rest of the world. I’ve always felt it’s time to try. Sometimes I feel time has passed. Talking drum has been an idea of mine for about two years and it’s just coming to life due to one or two factors. But that time gave for a better structure and ideas.
Africa is broken, a lot of fixing to do. What’s your view on how the new age can understand what we need to do, it’s not getting easier but still we dream.
Africa is broken, yes, but I feel it’s being fixed by our generation. Some get carried away. We can all try a bit more. We get carried away with the “culture” we are trying to bring in. We get carried away with posting on social media about the moves we are making instead of focusing on the work. We get carried away by life and parents who don’t understand us, and these things hinder our growth as people and as a continent. Oh! We also get carried away with school!
How will talking drum pioneer something that sparks a great change, what makes you feel it’s time to try?
I would say. The Talking Drum is a stepping stone to something much greater. A catalyst to something I can’t mention right now. The Talking Drum will play an important role in the African music industry and propelling the industry to its peak, and giving Nigeria a new income stream.
“Giving Nigeria a new income stream”
That’s a very profound statement, what does that also say about the company and its values? As a new age innovator, how is the New Age music also inspiring you to want to contribute?
Talking Drum is a stepping stone to the new income stream. The “new age” music is what I’ve been waiting for personally as a music lover and talking drum is here for it. Talking Drum is here to push the music as far as it can continuously. The world must hear it.
These artistes need to eat and most give their life to music and they can’t live off their parents forever (although some can lol!) but there are many ways to make money in the music industry but Africa haven’t tapped into it yet . I don’t know if the older generations can’t see it, but I see them clearly. Just the funds needed to set up the structures and pipelines properly.
The name Talking Drum, what’s the inspiration?
The name talking drum didn’t come up till a few months before we launched. I didn’t have a name for the platform, but in one of my research sessions (I have those almost every night) I came across an article that mentioned talking drum as one of the most recognizable music instrument in Africa then a light bulb came on.
What do you feel about the culture growing among the world? We’re identifying our black skin and turning it into business, we’ve called the African revolution “New Age”, what does this mean to you as a person, and New Age music to your brand?
Well, it’s an awesome instrument. It’s amazing how our generation is rising and building a new culture.
As a person I feel the “new age” can curb more on the vices we have and really become the best citizens we can. As for the music and my brand we are loving it but still improvements have to be made and we will talk about this in a podcast we are starting this year.
We project the world “culture” but what’s it true meaning? What do you we feel can Africa create as change?
I feel culture is the bits and pieces that makes us, that define us as a generation. For example what talking drum is trying to do with Drummrfest is to embed that proper musical experience feel like Coachella into Africa. Not concerts with tables and VIP as we are used to.
The change is what we need right now. As youth of today. We need this change. This change is making things possible for us and way easier. This change. If you’re ready to flow with it brings opportunities. And I feel, No matter the level of resources available to you, you can be part of the exciting wave coming
This is why I’m excited about companies like baroque age. They have positioned themselves to be on this wave.
I’m also very curious about how this change as a company owner will affect you, this change going on in Africa? As we have brands from all over the world also using their large resources to create their own content and ideas using the new age African mind, is that something we should react to that?
We as youth company owners definitely have to react to this change because this change is for us. The times are changing in our favor really. Leaving the “old minded “generation behind. It’s something for is innovators to embrace to work to our good. I feel there’s more to come from us and more to come from the change happening right now.
How do we make sure our products and content are as standard as the multinational brands coming in, what should we seek to differ?
I feel we can raise what we call standard if we stop trying to emulate the multinational brands. Because when we try to emulate we will always fall below par but if we focus and put in 100% to bring us and doing what we feel is right. We start setting our standards. As individuals, as groups. As a country and as a continent then the rest of the world would emulate us.
You mentioned you’re a filmmaker, as music grows other forms of art and innovation grow too. What do you think about the future of filmmaking in Africa in regards to how the new age influence it?
I started filmmaking out of necessity. Talking Drum needed a videographer for our video content and instead of outsourcing I decided to take it up. I started learning, then I fell in love with cinematography. I’ll be releasing my first short film this year.
Future of filmmaking is looking bright, I’ve met some people who are just so gnarly with their movie visions it’s unreal and I’m excited to see them come to light. The new age is taking over everything. Filmmaking and music videos included. People like Falomo really putting great works out and I’m happy about that.
How can talking drum as a company influence filmmaking industry? And what’s your dream for filmmaking?
Talking drum is here for this. To use our platform to promote filmmakers and their works as well as music and we are gearing up to make some exclusive short films and documentaries. My dream concerning filmmaking is to shoot various short series and film that will hit everyone that’ll watch them close to home.
You speak about platforms, cultures and ideas of how the new age are the ones to inspire something revolutionary, what’s the story in you that fuelling this belief ?
I believe in the new age revolution because I’m part of that. I believe I’m going to do some revolutionary shit in African industries and I see some of my peers doing things I believe would spark something great.
As a mind also consuming the New Age music how can you explain the values in which it’s grown? The fusion of sounds it takes grasp of.
Well the music has grown in content mostly. Which it was lacking and I feel with the producers we have now, the type of sounds coming out of Africa is improving drastically and that’s a beautiful thing. A lot of work to be done still but this is a good starting point.
What more change would you like to see in Africa?
Africa is like a budding industry in itself and a lot of things will improve soon but personally I like to see growth in the industries I’m invested in and that’s music and entertainment. Film. Agriculture and finally for now technology. And looking at the growth from 2014 till now is encouraging. We are on the right track.
2016 seemed to be a testing stage for most youth-driven companies, how did yours go?
2016 has been testing in every way and youth startups aren’t any different and I feel 2017 and maybe even 2018 will still be crucial growth years for startups. I’m not expecting any Big Bang in these years if you get what I mean. These growth years would make or break startups. It’s giving us a chance to build a proper foundation and structure before we hit the skyline.
What do you seek as growth and direction for 2017?
For 2017, I personally want to continue growing the Talking Drum brand steadily, I might introduce one or two new things but I want the ground base to be solid first. For other startups I feel 2017 will be the year we see youth entrepreneurship skyrocket and we see our peers putting in major work to their dreams and visions. I’m ready for this. I’m ready to work with and invest in others as well as myself.
How do you feel your platform can help give a stage to the poorer side of Africa, how can we take the kids that are part of the low-income earners stricken with poverty and give them a stage to believe they too can dream ?
In all honesty, Talking drum has no charitable angle. It’s main and only focus is the entertainment industry as a whole. We do not charge for features or promotions so as far as your music is good we will push you.
But I personally have some charity inclined ideas soon to be manifested.
Why do you feel the new age is going to become on a global stage? What should be the vision you’d love every new age mind in the music business or industry across Africa to understand?
The new age on a global scale is going to be the driving force of the next era/century whatever you want to call it. I feel everyone should be focused on being the best at their craft. Not just being the best for competition but honestly being the best to give rise to their prime self.
What is the story you want to leave when you’re gone?
When I’m gone I just people to know I died an empty vessel. I want people to see through my company I did all I could to improve various industries in Africa.
Though I’ll like to ask your view on how shows and festivals can push the culture forward, we’ve already seen the influence and exposure we could bring by creating environments that attract global stars, how do you feel your show, drummer fest will impact this and what’s the plan moving forward towards next year?
I feel that’s our problem, bringing in outside artiste for our own concerts and our own festivals. Bringing in artistes from other African countries is fine, that’s promoting our culture.
We need to grow our music to the extent Americans and Europeans will be tripping into countries in Africa to attend our festivals and concerts.
With DrummrFest I plan to grow African music especially the emerging, though DrummrFest 2017 will only feature Nigerian artiste, it’s a growing process. We will eventually be having performances from artistes from all parts of Africa and be recognized internationally as a must attend festival here in Nigeria.
What does it mean to be African, to be an African dreaming on putting his continent on the global map?
Being African is power and I need every young African creative to realize this. Not to sound cliché, but the global spotlight is on us and we have to make it count. I believe we are creative, no matter the industry or scale your dreams lay in, raising up your nation and continent should be part of the grand scheme of things