Sunday, April 3, 2016 4:52 pm
David Adeleke, the 23-year old Afro-pop music superstar better known as Davido, in this interview with FUNSHO AROGUNDADE opens up more on his first-of-its-kind recording deal with Sony Music International that would put him on a global map and what to be expected of his sophomore album
Congrats on your Sony Music landmark deal. Tell us how you managed to pull through this $1 million deal?
Thanks. I am so happy this has eventually happened. I signed the deal at Sony Music Entertainment headquarters in New York City in January this year. It is a two-album recording and distribution deal which will allow for the publishing and global distribution of my intellectual materials.
How much did it cost you to seal this deal?
Look at me, did I look like someone who must have lost huge money? Nope. The deal cost me nothing. In fact, I wasn’t excited about the thought of the deal initially but I was convinced by my family members to sign the deal. Everyone said I could do this, but my own thinking with regard to Sony was that why would I sign to a label when I had already worked so well in Africa to build a brand?
So at what point did you give in to the deal?
That was about eight months ago. I was so skeptical about the deal but my dad (Dr. Deji Adeleke), my sisters and other members of the family pressured me into looking at the deal. I didn’t even talk to Kamal (Ajiboye), my manager, for two weeks because I wanted to be sure it was the right thing to do. I told them I just wanted to drop my (second) album because it was ready. Afterwards, I decided to meet the Sony reps and they told me they were not interested in Africa. They said I can have that (Africa) and do whatever I want with it. And I then said since I still had my Africa I had no problem signing the deal.
Asides the $1million cash, what other benefits would accrue to you signing this deal?
The most important thing is that I retain the right to my music and performances. Before signing the deal in January, I consulted widely especially with the renowned entertainment lawyer, Joel Katz who had represented many global stars such as late Michael Jackson, Ludacris, Justin Timberlake and more. Katz explained to me that I should look at the bigger picture. And I am happy that I owe my licenses and masters 100 per cent.
The name, Efe Ogbeni, an executive with Sony/ATV, keep reoccurring whenever anything on this deal is mentioned. What are his roles in all these?
Efe is like my brother. We grew up together in America. When my brother told him I was doing music, he became connected with me and he kept following our movement. He so much believes in Afrobeats. He was one of the people that made the deal between myself and Akon for ‘Dami Duro’s remix’ possible. Way back even before D’Banj got involved with Kanye West, Efe had already told me that we could pull this off. In 2013, I was in London five times over this record deal but never really took it seriously. But last year, at BET Awards, the pressure was simply too much. Efe is an amazing guy who believes in me and has been like a brother to me. He is also going to be the Executive producer for my next album.
Tell us about your forthcoming album?
The album is ready and it is going to be a classic. I spent almost a year going back and forth until this deal was actually completed. I wanted to make sure that I retained complete control over my work and that the terms of the deal were good for me. Now that this is done, I have several projects lined up. My album will be dropping later this year and we will be releasing a single this month. So expect bigger things.
Most of your songs are loaded with deep Yoruba folklores, how did you manage to put all those traditional words together given your background of been raised in America?
I have uncles and seniors who are well versed in the language around me. I listen more to them. Also my dad used to play Ebenezer Obey almost 24/7. Those songs and its lyrics inspire me. So I got inspiration from these channels which helped me whenever I am writing my own songs.
Are you not worried that Sony Music could try to tweak your songs to sound more foreign?
That was what I was initially worried about when they first came and offered me the deal. But I later discovered that they love the African flavour in my songs and that what we are going to stick to.
But experience had shown in the past that those international labels would want to have their way. Example was the case of King Sunny Ade and the Island Records.
That is not going to happen in my own case. I pick my own music and that is going to be definite. Nobody is going to choose what I will do with my music.
Can you shed more light on your new international music company floated by you?
It is not a new label as some people are saying. I am still part and parcel of HKN Music. You cannot sign an international deal without a company. And you know I don’t have my own company. I cannot sign that deal as David Adeleke but as a fully registered company. That’s why I registered Davido Worldwide Music. This new company is not a label but a management company with me David, my manager, my executive producer and my publicist, run separately for my international endeavours. The Sony deal doesn’t affect HKN label in any way. Sony Music relates with Davido’s new record label for the international market. But in Nigeria, it’s still HKN gang 100 per cent.