Tuesday, 23 April 2024
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Turph Kako: The making of a superstar. [Exclusive Interview]

the rudimentary moment of an unorthodox artist.

Turph Kako ( TW: @kakovibes ).
Turph Kako ( TW: @kakovibes ).

Since his arrival on the music scene Turph Kako has captivated audiences with a diverse fusion of musical genres influenced by artists such as Bob Marley, Damian Marley, Fela, J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Nas, Jay-Z and many others. Born Orajiaka Anthony Ferdinand, the versatile UK-based Nigerian musician, songwriter and record producer has taken the industry by storm with his unique sound which makes his music reflects a wide array of sounds and influences that have shaped his artistic evolution. Unlike artists who adhere to a specific genre, Turph embraces experimentation and refuses to be confined to a single category.

Having featured with other acts in some combined projects and numerous lead singles under his belt, he has consistently showcased his versatility and growth as an artist. The latest testament of his growth is showcased in his recently released debut EP titled “Heartbreak On A Full Moon“. This highly anticipated project showcases Turph’s unique musical style and marks a significant milestone in his career.

Few days after the release of his first independent project, our correspondent met with the burgeoning superstar, who was so happy to have us and in a free-spirited mood to discuss on topical matters concerning his artistry and career.

Turph Kako ( IG: @turph_kako ).

A-T: Tell us more about the person of Turph Kako.

TURPH: My name is Anthony Ferdinand Orajiaka, popularly known as Turph Kako. I am an artist, a songwriter and also a produce. I am currently based in the United Kingdom and making music in the South West. I’m from the Igbo tribe of Nigeria; Anambra State to be precise. My family moved to Lagos when I was still a kid and I spent most of my childhood growing up in Lagos. I attended Madonna University in Elele and graduated with a Computer Science degree in 2015. This was the University Campus in Rivers State, which means that I was in Port-Harcourt City a lot, as well as Owerri. Although, I spent more time in Port-Harcourt as Elele is in between those two cities. I like to say my background and influences is quite diverse because I spent time in various regions and cultures and I guess that’s one of the things that has helped me relate and blend in with people from different backgrounds and beliefs.

A-T: What’s the inspiration behind how you arrived at your stage name, Turph Kako?

TURPH: It’s a funny story actually. I used to call myself Lil-Turph initially because I started making music when Lil-Wayne’s influence was at it’s peak and every young kid rapping had “Lil” in front of their name. When I made up my mind I was going to take music seriously, I knew I had to come up with a name. After so much thoughts, I decided to take the first letter of all my names which are: “Tony” people called me that instead of Anthony, then I also took “Orajiaka” and “Ferdinand”. From there, I came up with the name “TOF”. I decided to add a little twist to it and changed the spelling to “Turph”. Also, I used to like Anime as a kid and liked this popular show called “Avatar – The Last Airbender” on Nickelodeon, and my favorite character was Toph Beifong, so it was only right. When I was in University, I don’t even remember how it started, my friends started calling me “Kako” and coincidentally Reminisce’s “Kako Bi Chicken” was making waves, so I became really popular in Uni for my unique name. And so I decided to combine both names and get rid of the “Lil”. And in Yoruba “Kako” is a slang for being reserved, and it made so much sense as I can be very reserved especially before I get comfortable around new people.

[LISTEN]: Heartbreak On A Full Moon by Turph Kako.

A-T: That’s a great analysis. So how did you get in tune with music?

TURPH: I have always been in contact with music. Growing up in a Christian home, Praise and Worship was a constant and being a Catholic, certain hymns and music during the holy mass just hits you differently. There’s something about sounds, rhythms, melodies and frequencies that just stimulates your brain. I also remember living in an area where there were a lot of Mosques around me, I used to also enjoy the rhythyms coming from public announcement system which makes me believe a lot of the Quran is read melodically. So these were music that were unconsciously influencing me as I was around them. My dad also used to play a lot of music, especially on Saturday mornings and I remember enjoying the music, he used to sing along as well lol. He actually has a good voice, makes me wonder why he was against me making music in the initial stages. And then there is the Radio and TV station program by Kennis Music. It was the station if you wanted to enjoy music. But personally I fell in love with Hip-Hop first, I used to listen to a lot of Lil-Wayne, Eminem, 50 Cent, Kanye West, Jay-Z etc. And as I got older, I explored several genres. Afrobeats and African music was a constant. Acts like 2 Baba, D-Banj, Wande Coal, Wizkid, Burnaboy also influenced me. My other major influences are Bob Marley, Damian Marley, Stephen Marley, Fela, Johnny Cash, J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Nas, Pharell, No-ID, Drake. I get influenced by almost any music as long as it resonates with me, I still get influenced by several people till today.

A-T: Judging from your rich experience of music, which projects do you regard as a “classic”?

TURPH: Yes, I’d like to believe so. Kendrick Lamar’s “Good Kid Maad City” and J. Cole’s “Born Sinner” were very vital to my journey. This was the peak of my teenage year, and with the adolescence delinquencies, most of us didn’t fit in. Those two albums helped me through a lot. Some notable mentions are Future’s “DS2”, Travis Scott’s “Rodeo” and “Birds In the Trap Sing McKnight”, Frank Ocean’s “Channel Orange”. I’ll stop because there’s just so much to mention. I’m actually a music junkie, I consume a lot of music.

A-T: How did you order your steps into making music professionally?

TURPH: I decided to make music my profession after I performed as Micheal Jackson in one of my secondary school event and people absolutely loved it. Before then, I had performed several times at school events and I noticed the moments I felt very free and happy was when I was either playing for the school band, at choir practice, dance rehearsals and drama classes, I just knew I wanted to be an entertainer. I struggled to fit in in school, and music was my answer, it made me feel among and alive. But I didn’t start making music professionally there and then. I started freestyling in class, writing lyrics during classes. There’s this thing we used to do in secondary school, we used to make a “Slum Book” of everyone in the class, during break time, we used to beat drums on the desks and everyone takes turn freestyling using words and prompts from the Slum Book. It was so fun.

TURPH: During my Internship period in University, I moved to Surulere to live, as I was an intern at “Cool Link” which was a sister company to “Cool FM Lagos”. I saw a lot of Nigerian superstars come to the studio and this was actually very motivational for me, picturing myself doing big teams. I decided to really work on developing myself, it was quite difficult as I had no guidance and I had to figure things out on my own as time passes. I ended making a record called “One For Me” which was an RnB song, that was my first official single as a solo artist and was released in 2014. Everyone I played the song for didn’t believe it was me and was very impressed. I remember playing it for the Music Director of Cool FM at the time and she loved it as well. A huge contrast from the last result of my recording in a studio. That was the sign I needed and it validated everything I was dreaming about.

A-T: What’s your sound like and how does it set apart what you offer?

TURPH: I think what sets me apart, just like every other human is my personality, my story and my journey. Musically, I don’t think I have achieved the sound I am trying to create, I am still experimenting and I think I am really close. Although, even right now, when you hear me on any production, you know it’s me because of my unique signature in my voice. No one out there sounds like me.

[LISTEN]: Heartbreak On A Full Moon by Turph Kako.

A-T: How has it been experimenting and trying to create a sound which is uniquely you?

TURPH: It’s been amazing. Honestly, all I want to do is make music and like every other craft and aspect of life, the more time you dedicate to your craft the better you get. I’ve been joggling so much and making music at the same time and I’m impressed with what I have been able to achieve so far. I have so many ideas, that I haven’t even started working on yet. This project is the first body of work where I’ve collaborated with other producers and songwriters actively creating music, letting them in on my idea and vision and we pulled this off without any structure and limitless resources.

A-T: Do you have a certain producer you work with to help you with this sonic discovery?

TURPH: Not exactly. I am a producer myself, so I am lucky enough that I can come up with ideas and make some music all by myself. I tend to collaborate with a lot of people and I think when the time comes, when I and a producer will be stuck with each other, the universe will make that happen. But on this EP “Heartbreak On A Full Moon”, I worked with an amazing producer in Bristol, “Jabani” and he absolutely killed it, our musical chemistry is something else to be fair.

A-T: Let’s talk about the new tape, “Heartbreak On A Full Moon”. It sounded to me as a Chris Brown tape back in 2017. What was the inspiration behind the title?

TURPH: Haha, you are probably saying that because of the title. I mean, it’s a compliment to be told I sound like Chris Brown, man is a legend and is absolutely one of my influences. I remember performing his song “Yeah 3x” in high school. So concerning the title, I always wanted to make a project with heartbreak as its main theme. When I got about two rough ideas to create songs with its theme centered on heartbreak, I started thinking of a title for the project and “Heartbreak On A Full Moon” came to mind. I ran with it and announced the title of the EP on my socials, I started actively building around that idea and put out a few singles teasing the EP.

TURPH: It wasn’t until I think about 6 months to the release, I was having a chat with my A&R and he told me Chris Brown has an album titled in similar fashion, I was like I totally forgot because I actually vibed to that project. I think that was the Chris Brown tape with over 40 songs if I am not mistaken. I was like damn it, we are not changing the title now, I’ve been working on the EP for a while now with that title in mind that it almost feels subconscious, changing it would mess with the whole direction of the EP. Then I also thought about how Burna Boy’s song “Ye” blew up in the USA because people where getting redirected to his song when actively searching for Kanye’s “Ye” album. I thought it could also be a good marketing strategy, so we kept the title. Overall, the tape is inspired by heartbreaks, toxic relationships, self gain, insecurities, feeling of emptiness, all in the context of a romantic relationship.

[LISTEN]: Heartbreak On A Full Moon by Turph Kako.

A-T: Great concept. I think you actually executed them perfectly. How long was this project in the works?

TURPH: Thank you. I came up with the idea during the lock down in 2020. Although I wasn’t actively working on the album for three years straight, but in my head I was plotting and piecing things together. Obviously, as an independent artist, it takes longer to bring ideas to life due to lack of resources and time.

A-T: That’s a long time ago, it’s nice to finally see it released. What are your expectations with the project?

TURPH: Yes, I’m glad people can now enjoy what I spent time creating. However, about expectations, if you mean commercial expectations, usually I try not to have those so I do not get disappointed. I think I achieved what I was trying to achieve with this project sonically. Now I just want to reach a wider and broader audience and establish myself as a brand to look out for. So, just like a piece of a painting, the value of the art never depreciates rather it only becomes more costly. So whenever anyone catches on to this project, I hope they experience the true intention behind the project.

A-T: You have an wholesome EP on your hands, what should we expect next?

TURPH: Expect music videos for some of the tracks off the EP. After that, I intend to drop more singles exploring different genres, to remind people I’m very versatile and not just an R&B or Afrobeats singer. Maybe a few more EPs and I think at the right time I will start working on the full length album. I have some ideas already, but it’s still very premature and things need to align first to bring that experience to life.

A-T: Who are the artists you admire and like to work with in the industry?

TURPH: A lot of people actually. Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Burna Boy, Wizkid, Travis Scott, Swae Lee, Dave, Central Cee, Stormzy, Rema and Gunna.

A-T: What message will you like to leave for the followers of the Turph Kako movement?

TURPH: I’ll say keep walking with me, trust me when I say we haven’t even started yet, we have a long way to go together and I know I’m gonna outdo myself and make you guys proud. Don’t let any one downplay you and make you think you can’t do what you want to do. Block out all the noise and do it. No one knows you better than you do, the decision is on you. So believe in yourself and just do it.

As Turph Kako continues to push boundaries and explore new musical horizons, his debut EP solidifies his position as a rising artist to watch out for. One thing is for sure, “Heartbreak On A Full Moon” is just the beginning of his long journey to become a superstar. We are witnessing the sweet early moments of a blossoming act, and it is no doubt an interesting one.

[LISTEN]: Heartbreak On A Full Moon by Turph Kako.

This interview is created by Adebayo Boluwatife, an Album Talks writer. ( Twitter: @BIG_BOLUWATIFE).

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