Suc­cess for me aren’t the toys and awards – Kaze

Doug Kaze is an afro-soul singer and song­writer who has re­leased two al­bums, ‘Doug Kaze’ and ‘Par­a­digm Shift’. Here, he talks about what mu­sic means to him, his mu­si­cal jour­ney, his two al­bums and more.

Weekly Trust - - Entertainment - Nathaniel Bi­van Kaze: Kaze: Doug Kaze: Satur­day, Fe­bru­ary 11, 2017 Kaze: Kaze: Kaze: Kaze: Kaze: Kaze: Kaze: Kaze:

Week­end Mag­a­zine: How will you de­scribe your kind of mu­sic? I call my mu­sic afro-soul or afro­folk. WM: What in­flu­enced your choice of genre?

My mu­sic is ac­tu­ally a body of di­verse in­flu­ences. I grew up pay­ing at­ten­tion to dif­fer­ent kinds of mu­sic, each of which has even­tu­ally found a way into my genre. As a child, the nor­mal sounds were those of Bob Mar­ley and other reg­gae artists from my fa­ther’s cas­sette player. When I started sec­ondary school at St. Mu­rumba in Jos, I dis­cov­ered the world of hip-hop and fell in love with the sound. I later also paid at­ten­tion to R&B and soul, fol­lowed by rock mu­sic. At each turn I was ob­sessed with the genre of the mo­ment. So, my mu­sic com­bines el­e­ments from these gen­res with lo­cal North­ern Nige­rian folk sounds.

WM: It’s said many Nige­ri­ans like songs they can dance to. Do you think yours can be danced to?

It’s true that a lot of Nige­ri­ans love to dance. It’s also true that there are many Nige­ri­ans who pre­fer to lis­ten and think, or who would dance and still find time for lyri­cally-driven mu­sic. Maybe this mu­sic is­sues out of my tem­per­a­ment and my love for poetry. My best ex­pe­ri­ence of mu­sic comes from mu­sic that drives me to lis­ten rather than dance and I hardly ever con­sider my­self a dancer. So while I don’t throw away the power of rhythm on the hu­man body and the beauty of dance, I try to make mu­sic that would speak more through its words, and hope­fully make some­one tap their feet or shake their head in the process. But, I do think my mu­sic can be danced to.

WM: You have re­leased three sin­gles; ‘No Sea­son’, ‘River’ and ‘Hard Words’. They seemed some­what philo­soph­i­cal, if one can put it that way. What mes­sage were you try­ing to pass across?

The three songs, which are ac­tu­ally from my de­but al­bum, speak about dif­fer­ent ideas. ‘No Sea­son’ is about com­mit­ment in love. ‘River’ speaks of a de­sire to be­come more aware of those who strug­gle through life and the need to be a chan­nel of love to­wards them. ‘Hard Words’ voices the heart of a per­son who is con­sciously choos­ing for­give­ness over vengeance in the face of ad­ver­sity.

WM: How did your jour­ney as a singer be­gin?

For as long as I can re­mem­ber, mu­sic has al­ways been my dream. I started toy­ing with song­writ­ing as a child in pri­mary school. I would sing them only to my­self, though, be­cause I was very shy. My song­writ­ing started tak­ing shape when I started sec­ondary school. I wrote many songs dur­ing those years and started a group with my friends when I was twelve. The group never worked. Af­ter sec­ondary school, I be­came ac­tive in my lo­cal church youth band. There I learnt to sing bet­ter and to play in­stru­ments. My early days in mu­sic were quite chal­leng­ing as my par­ents never thought my love for mu­sic was some­thing se­ri­ous. I would trek to dis­tant places within the city of Jos, look­ing for learn­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties.

WM: How do you draw in­spi­ra­tion for your songs?

In­spi­ra­tion, for me, comes in dif­fer­ent ways. A song can come in a quiet mo­ment or when I’m read­ing some­thing or even in the mid­dle of a con­ver­sa­tion. Some­times, a word can spark up a song idea. Other times, fool­ing around on the gui­tar can in­spire a song. There are yet times that I set out to ad­dress is­sues that I find dis­turb­ing in so­ci­ety and be­gin to work out lyrics and melodies.

WM: Let’s talk about your first al­bum…

My first al­bum, self-ti­tled as ‘Doug Kazé’, was ac­tu­ally re­leased in 2014. My sec­ond al­bum, ‘Par­a­digm Shift’, fol­lowed in 2016. The first was my at­tempt at solo work. My vi­sion for the al­bum was to in­tro­duce my sound, the fu­sions of soul and lo­cal sounds, and to ad­dress is­sues such as hu­man traf­fick­ing and other social prob­lems. The sec­ond al­bum was in­tended to build on the first one the­mat­i­cally, ad­vance in terms of the mu­sic it­self and work out a more acous­tic-based col­lec­tion.

WM: What chal­lenges have you faced so far as an up­com­ing mu­si­cian?

At the risk of sound­ing ar­ro­gant, I hardly think of my­self as ‘up­com­ing’ since I’ve been in this thing al­most all my life. This doesn’t mean I think of my­self as hav­ing ‘ar­rived’. And ar­rival for me isn’t the toys and the awards, but be­ing able to make my art more com­pe­tent and find­ing more ful­fil­ment. So I think of my­self as an artist who is al­ready liv­ing the dream of mak­ing my art, yet with a lot of space for growth. I may not be fa­mous, but I do make and per­form my art, per­haps in a dif­fer­ent way than oth­ers who are signed to es­tab­lished record la­bels. Also, there are peo­ple who be­lieve in what I do. The chal­lenge with be­ing an in­de­pen­dent artist means you have to be both the artist and the la­bel, han­dling both the art and the busi­ness. It’s not been easy, but it’s fun.

WM: What was your first out­ing as a singer like?

It was in sec­ondary school. The first time I stood be­fore an au­di­ence to per­form was dur­ing what we used to call Per­for­mance Work­shop, a part of our mu­sic pro­gramme. Al­though I’d al­ready writ­ten tons of songs by this time, I was lit­er­ally forced and threat­ened by my class­mates to the stage be­cause i was too scared to stand be­fore peo­ple. But I did it. The big­ger one was at a Mr Poly show in Jos in the mid 90s. Again, I was scared but I did it. It be­came eas­ier with time.

WM: This ques­tion may sound a bit strange, but why do you sing?

I sing be­cause I was cre­ated to sing. I be­lieve so deeply. I re­mem­ber feel­ing low and de­cid­ing I’d leave mu­sic af­ter what i thought was a poor per­for­mance some­where in South Africa. But the fol­low­ing day caught me work­ing at my mu­sic. More­over, I don’t re­mem­ber the par­tic­u­lar time I fell in love with mu­sic. It has al­ways been there since my child­hood. Not to sing is not to be me.

WM: What are you usu­ally up to when you aren’t singing?

I do a lot of things. I write poetry and fic­tion. At the mo­ment, though, I give most of my time to com­plet­ing my post­grad­u­ate re­search work.

‘Fool­ing around with the gui­tar in­spires me.’

Kaze: ‘At the risk of sound­ing ar­ro­gant, I hardly think of my­self as ‘up­com­ing’ since I’ve been in this thing al­most all my life’

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