Kickback: with Yinka Bernie
Caught up with young Nigerian producer/musician Yinka Bernie and kicked back on growth, finding his sound and future projects.
How are you ? How is life ? How’s The music ?
I am doing very fine, but to answer “how is the music?” I have thousands of answers to that question. Music generally hasn’t been bad for an upcoming act. Music has been really good.I used to have the problem of not getting enough recognition or rather enough audience to actually listen to my music but now I care less about that and I just put out music for the world to listen via my SoundCloud page. The plays or likes doesn’t really matter. All I sincerely care about is the comment and criticism that I get when people listen, these comments and criticism has actually made me grow in my sound and has built my confidence music-wise. In a nutshell, music has been beautiful.
What is your sound ? I’ve heard variations of afrobeats, kicks, different tempos and ideas going on in your production, you’ve also voiced some songs, what’s the direction for your sound an artist and producer ?
My sound? I am still on the quest to find my sound. Production for me started in a funny way. While I was in high school I used to be a fan of the new school guys then, the like of Bankyondbeatz, GMK, Ozzy B and the rest. At some point Bankyondbeatz used to come around to my school. I remember I used to disturb him a lot about wanting to do music. He was always laughed because I was still like 14 then. I started going to the studio on my own around age 15, and from there I developed the interest for audio engineering and music production. My cousin Goldkeyz then gave me fl studio setup and then I kicked off. I started as an artiste but took a long break and switched to production. My first project ever was Fela Obsession EP. This EP opened my eyes to a lot, because at that point nobody wanted to work with me or even wanted to listen to what I had to offer. After I released the EP, I sent the link to Banky. I will never forget what he told me. He said the EP sounded unfinished and I should take my time and not rush, that the most important thing is being consistent. From then I worked my ass off searching and trying to find my sound and getting my self right. I’m still on the quest for my sound.
What has this all led to ?
What has it morphed your direction of being a music creative into, knowing this has been a new age for music in Africa, where do you feel you’d like your music to stand and what do you want people to perceive from it ?
The emergence of the whole new age thingy in Africa has just been one of the most beautiful things that has happened to Africa entertainment-wise. The youth have been exposed and introduced to a whole new calm and modernized vibes. We have had enough of the upbeat tempo songs and the leaders of tomorrow have started creating really relatable and amazing Sonics to reckon.
Where my music / my sound stands is a big question. I am a bit nonchalant about where I reach to with my music. I’m just focused on growing in my sound and what get me a spot on the whole New Age phase. All I’m doing now is working hard to find my sound, developing my artistic qualities, staying consistent with the music and mostly importantly staying true to my sound.
But you have some sort of message you’re trying to spread with your art, tell us that ?
Yes like chance the rapper said. ” I don’t make songs for free I make them for freedom”. I’ve gone past the stage of just making a beat and voicing lame lyrics with good melodies. The way I create music has changed. I can get a concept from anywhere, I can get inspired in the church when the pastor is talking about love, or even from current affairs in Nigeria. From there, when I have a direction of how my concept should be like, I start with making the beat then I start writing and try not to swerve from the direction of the song. Lets say I try to make sense with my music even if its going to talk about living an extravagant life or my love life. Basically making sense and passing a message with my music. I plan to put out projects that would INSPIRE THE KIDS
It’s inspiring to see your passion, where does it come from ? You believe in yourself regardless of how messy things are in Nigeria, what makes you believe you achieve this idea of changing minds using your music ? It’s something we could say Fela, which we believe you look up to do but died trying.
I grew up listening to the like of Shina Peters, Ebenezer Obey, Yinka Ayefele and Fela. My father loved this music so much, and unconsciously I found myself making stuff like this. So the kind of message they pass are similar to what I do now. As I said before I want to INSPIRE KIDS with what I want to do.
You produce and also make songs yourself, I personally see a lot more growth in your production skills , you’re back to putting your voice out there, what do you feel is still lacking in getting it perfected to chart its own direction towards the people who listen ?
Like I said before, I haven’t found my sound. Personally I put in more work into my production that being an artiste. I’m putting out my EP in December, I produced and sang on all the songs. I believe there is a bit of growth as an artiste on the EP.
Tell us something you want to share with anyone that reads this, something you’d like them to understand with you and your music going forward in your life.
I would like to say to anyone reading this that you can be good in whatever you want you just need to be dedicated and focused. Yinkabernie / Berniemusic is a brand that wants to reach out to the word with my sound and with anything idea I come up with. I’m a visionary.
The current state of things, Africa going through a lot, how do you feel music can help change this ?
Music is a very strong medium to pass information, I feel if artists can pass on more positive information with their music. One way other the other it would touch somebody out there and you don’t know it might affect him/her positively. I know the country is hard and all and people care less about listening to music, we rather unwind with groovy tunes but still let artistes pass on good messages with their songs. If an artiste is going to sing about love let him single entirely about love, don’t dive and start talk about your lavish spending and how you are the life of Lagos party. In a nutshell, let every creative not just musicians pass on a meaningful messages through their arts.
And navigating through college, music and life, how has this been ? Do your parents support your creativity ?
Balancing school and music is very possible but I wouldn’t lie to you that I have been able to balance school and music easily. At a point in uni I was really un-serious with my studies, I was more concerned about my music and it affected me a lot. The first time I told my Dad that I sold my instrumental out he was really happy that I have started making money off what I liked doing and he encouraged me. During the long break, me and my mom were always fighting , because I usually make noise with my loud music from my room and it all went down to how I was doing academically. I remember her telling me that she could remember how my beats sounding when I played it to her first and how they sound now, she told me to apply it to my studies and I listened to her advice and this new school year as been wonderful, things are getting really better musically and academically. You just have to set your priorities right and God will work wonders.
In identifying your sound, you started with Afrobeats. What is this Afrobeat, what does the sound mean to our generation as it has gone from a tool Fela invented to what some call panglo yet the new age seems to hold it dear refreshing it towards their own voice ?
I really appreciate Fela for being one of the people to create this beautiful genre called afrobeats. Afrobeats makes you free and frees your mind. Honestly, it is very catchy and tends to make you get into the vibe because it is usually mid-tempo. I started off as a brand representing the pre-existing vibes that Fela created rather than focusing on creating my own vibe. It wasn’t until I met the founders of Baroque Age and they gave me advice on how I should further my sound I would still be wandering in that Afrobeats cage. 75% of what artistes call Afrobeats today is totally far from it. Only few tracks like Wizkid’s Ojuelegba, Seun Kuti’s Rise, and Orezi’s double your hustle are really afrobeats. Aside from that, most of the music we hear today are just bunch of genres fusing with afrobeat. Fela would definitely not endorse a lot of sonic garbage some people make nowadays. New Age artistes should experiment on more genres – trap and afrobeats aren’t the only genres.
How does this linger on your growth as an artist and the type of sound/rhythm/message we should expect on your upcoming EP ?
My EP 19 & Over is a 6 track body of work that goes from me talking about my life from age 19. 19 and over tells the story of a man finding his purpose in life. On the verge of finding your purpose you tend to go through a lot. 19 & Over is a project from me just talking to people about my experiences. I have a song about life, I have a song about women, I have a song about my dreams. My EP in a phrase Is just: “maximum cruise for the people”. The EP is not to prove any point or anything, it is just for people to listen to and be happy. Major Vibes.
Listen to Yinka Bernie: