Tuesday, 5 March 2024
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VASA: “There’s a Lot Coming for Me” [Excl. Interview]

“I wanted to talk to people with my music; speak to people’s souls with my music. When I realised I could actually make money with music, I was like, “Yo, I will do this professionally too.”

– VASA ON THE INSPIRATION BEHIND HIS MUSIC JOURNEY.

The early days of an artiste’s career, right before a surge in popularity and demand, represent a calm before the storm. Amidst the calm lies learning and the crafting of a defining identity. Multiple factors, environmental inclusive, necessitate the infusion of dynamism, range, and versality. Turgid with experiences and dreams, upcoming act VASA has set out to make an indelible mark in the Nigerian music industry.

Born Ali Freedom, VASA’s journey to redefining versatility formally began with his signing of a record deal in 2020 as a teenager. Three years later, VASA would release his debut singles, ‘Teriza‘ and ‘Bolanle‘. His unique take on Afrobeats continues with his next single and the first of 2024, ‘50-50‘. This single has attracted attention from notable industry figures, continuing VASA’s momentum after going viral on TikTok in November 2023.

VASA’s ascendency is set to continue with the release of his debut EP in the year 2024. Pending this release, and in the wake of his ‘50-50‘ single, our representative engaged with VASA in a virtual chat. The conversation bordered on the inspiration behind his latest single, his reaction to its success so far, his music journey and his perception of Afrobeats as a whole.

A-T: Not so long ago, you released your latest single, ‘50-50’. How does it feel to get co-signs from a couple of industry heavyweights? We are talking about M.I and Fireboy DML, as well as media personalities like Sydney Talker and Yhemo Lee.

VASA: It feels great. Not everybody has the opportunity. It’s proof that yeah, I’m on the right path. That morning, when I woke up, I noticed that Fireboy posted on Snapchat. It was crazy, because I’m a big fan. I love his sound, his music and everything that he stands for.

A-T: What inspired the single, ‘50-50’? What was your state of mind? Was there any specific experience that spurred you on to pick up your pen or headphones to start recording?

VASA: Most of my other songs are like stories, inspired by true-life stories. But for ‘50-50’, it’s just like a vibe. It’s a vibe I caught in the studio. I did not plan to record that song. I was just there when my producer played the beat and I was like, “Omo, this song deserves this kind of vibe.” I felt the need to talk, free my mind, instead of just singing normal melodies and stuff. If you listen to my previous releases, they are different from what I just released now. ‘Bolanle’, ‘Treasure’; they have this melody, this calm vibe. But ‘50-50’ is more of like, I’m just talking and telling the people how I feel, what I’ve learnt in life.

A-T: It’s interesting that something you didn’t plan has become your top song on Apple Music.

VASA: Yes.

A-T: Let’s take a broader step. What does Afrobeats as a whole mean to you?

VASA: Afrobeats means our culture. Us, our language. It’s how we communicate with people from other parts. If you have noticed, we are very close to the whites now and the people outside. They enjoy our music more than before because of Afrobeats. It’s like our language, our culture. I just love putting our culture out there, putting my people out there, on the map.

A-T: That’s lovely to hear. Apart from Afrobeats, are there other genres that you’ve thought of experimenting or blending with Afrobeats?

VASA: I like to play with sounds, but I love to just stay on Afrobeats. That’s where I can show my potentials and stuff. That’s my field. That’s where I’m good.

A-T: That’s good. So, what inspired you to start music? Like, professionally?

VASA: I love music. I’ve been singing from a very young age. And my sisters have nice voices. There’s this vibe they used to give at home then. I wanted to be like them. I wanted to talk to people with my music; speak to people’s souls with my music. When I realised I could actually make money with music, I was like, “Yo, I will do this professionally too.”

A-T: It’s been barely two, three years. Would you say the journey so far has been rewarding?

VASA: Yeah. It’s been promising. I believe that there’s a lot coming for me.

A-T: Looking out for that, as well. So, you’ve loved music for the longest. I want to believe that there are couple of artists, locally and globally, that you admire. Who do you regard as your biggest influences, locally and globally?

VASA: Burna Boy. His pen game. Burna does not just write. Every song has a message in it. If you listen to his voice, the passion in his voice, you cannot tell Burna that he is not good. From his voice, you would know that he is good. And it’s something that he knows already, so I like him. I like the way he sings, the passion. Everything.

A-T: Apart from Burna, anyone else?

VASA: Jon Bellion. His pen game, too. I just like good music with good messages (laughs). Don’t blame me.

A-T: No, not at all. It’s nice to know that you have an ear for artistes with stellar pen game and everything.

VASA: Yeah.

A-T: Your discography is in its formative stage – not so many songs for now, which is understandable. It is also understandable that you haven’t featured or been featured by other artistes. Should we be expecting any more in the coming months?

VASA: Yeah. Very soon, I’ll be doing something with somebody but I don’t want to call any name.

A-T: That’s calm. I understand that you are a young artiste aged 20. Are there any Nigerian artistes in your age bracket that you just admire? Not that you necessarily want to work with them, but you just like their sound, their vibe.

[LISTEN] Vasa – 50-50

VASA: I don’t have any. But [outside the country], I love Koffee. I love her sound and her style, too. I would love to work with her.

A-T: That’s ambitious, but it’s quite possible. There are some features we have seen in the past couple of years I wouldn’t have imagined happening like five, ten years ago. Winding down, how do you handle burnout and pressure as a creative?

VASA: Most times, when I feel like it’s hard, I just call my mum. Talk to family. I remind myself that this is why I’m doing this. I’m doing this for these people. Even if the pressure is too much, I’ll be able to face it for these people.

A-T: That’s lovely to hear. Reminds me of the music video of Fireboy DML’s ‘Airplane Mode’, where he included a clip of a phone conversation with his mum.

VASA: Yeah! Yeah, I do.

A-T: It’s really nice to hear that you have a solid sense of family and community. It’s really good to hear.

VASA: Yeah. Thank you.

A-T: You’re welcome. So, lastly. I know you won’t disclose too much and it’s still taking shape, but tell us a bit about your upcoming EP. The direction, the message, the influences, the sound. Just give us a slight sense of what we can expect.

VASA: For me, most times, I don’t like when people know my next move and stuff, but let me just say this. It’s harnessed from my name (VASA). Like, the meaning, versatile. The EP is just about me. Thankful for love, for life, for people and stuff. My journey, personal experiences. I just put them together. But it will be a special one. I promise.

A-T: We are very confident that you will deliver something really special. Not just for your fans, but for the industry as well.

VASA: Yeah. And I believe that after this EP, a lot will change. So this is, like, my opportunity to actually be myself, to express myself before I would not be able to make decisions of mine. On my own. Like, on the kind of songs I would drop. For now, I have that freedom. So, that EP is just me expressing myself.

[LISTEN] Vasa – 50-50

A-T: So it’s all about being as unhinged and being as raw and vulnerable as possible.

VASA: Yeah. One thing about me, I believe that in the future, people will come back to listen to where you started. How you started. So I want to make this one special. Most times, I still listen to Wizkid’s Superstar. It reminds you of this young guy that wants to just make it. You can just feel the fire, the passion in that album. That’s how I want my EP to be like.

A-T: Our fingers are really crossed for that. In the meantime, we’ll be listening to your existing stuff and we are rooting for you heavily.

VASA: Thank you very, very much. God bless you.

– This interview was conducted and written by Clinton Durueke, an Album Talks writer (X: @ClintCDurueke).

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