Meet Ayola, who officially announced his appearance in the music industry with a debut EP, Scum, a cinematic six-track collection of dazzling, creamy Afropop.
Ayola burst onto the music scene with his official single “Bola” and followed up with a Naija-folk song, “1974”, before releasing EP Scum in late 2020 in partnership with Windsor music label, Soul City Music Co-op.
Before coming to Windsor in Canada, Ayola was born in Osun State and raised in Kwara State, Nigeria. He said while he was growing up, he listened to music with his mom at home, an influence he held on to when the time came to create his own music. From there he studied biochemistry in Nigeria before getting his Master’s degree in pharmaceutics at University College London and the second Master’s in biotechnology at the University of Windsor.
With his authentic Naija voice and a broad palette of musical influences, Ayola is doing the impossible, creating a wholly new sound in a world that has heard it all.
In this interview with Taiwo Okanlawon, Ayola spoke about his lifelong passion for songwriting which was nurtured in secret until shortly after moving to Windsor, Ontario in 2016, and began recording his first singles.
It’s been over seven months since the release of your EP ‘Scum’. Tell us about the past months…
It’s been an inflection point for me and my music career if I’m honest. One minute through recording Scum and feeling great about it, to putting it out, sitting back and listening over and feeling like, okay, I could have done this and this way better haha. I guess it’s post-album release dissonance, but yes, it’s been a good learning experience for me.
Did you have a specific mindset when approaching the EP?
I did, I wanted it to show my songwriting skills at the time, my versatility in switching between different genres, and to introduce the world to music to come.
Tell us a bit about your background?
I am Abdullah Abubakre, I am from Osun State, and I currently live in Canada. Besides being a musician, I am also a formulation Scientist, I have a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from Ahmadu Bello University, ABU, Zaria, a Masters Degree in Pharmaceutics from UCL, London, and a second Masters degree in Medical Biotechnology from the University of Windsor in Canada.
You have been in the entertainment industry for like 3 years now, how would you describe your struggle over the years especially with your type of genre?
More like 2 years, most of the struggle comes from knowing that it isn’t just about the music, but more so about the promotion and sometimes the surrounding gimmick, most of which independent artists like myself have little resources for.
I know you’re set to release a new project, is it EP or album this time?
It’s an album, although it’s an 8 track album, I happily consider it an LP.
When did you decide to become a musician?
About 2 years and some change ago, I had always been into music either through writing or so, but proper recording started 2 years ago. I didn’t want to look back at this time and regret not trying. People always said I had a good voice and a knack for melody and lyrics.”
Who influences you in the music industry?
So many people, I pick influences from different artists for different purposes, the likes of Olamide, King Sunny Ade, Asa, Burna Boy, Wizkid, Omah Lay, and Tems.
What do you think the future holds for the Nigerian music industry?
I think it’s a bright future, with many incredibly talented artists, and the emergence of online streaming platforms also makes things more promising.
What was your parents’ reaction to your decision to go into music?
It was okay, I mean, they used to be against it back in the years, but they are okay with it now, I guess it comes from knowing the justification for opposing which was that it would deter me from succeeding academically, is no longer a factor.
Seen your educational background, you’re loaded with degrees. If you’re not doing music, what will you be doing?
Haha, I don’t know about being loaded with degrees, lol. You mean workwise and not what my routine is like in general? Workwise, If I’m not making music, I’m most likely in the lab working on a drug formulation. I used to write poems too, but I’ve since become too lazy abeg.
Do you have a record label deal?
No I don’t, I’m indie.
Who are the top artistes you want to collaborate with?
It changes depending on the space I’m in and the song I’m making, I think Tems, Wizkid, Olamide, and King Sunny Ade.
As an artiste, you must have had your fair share of police brutality?
I haven’t, luckily…. Such an unfortunate situation we are in.
You dedicated a track on your EP to #EndSARS struggle. What do you think the youths achieved with that one voice?
Yes I did, “Home”, I think solidarity was key, and making it known that all will not always be well if we are mistreated or misgoverned. That type of accountability is important in a country with an unhearing government.
You tell touching and live stories mostly in your music. Focusing on your music, what genre would you classify it as?
Haha thank you, I think I’m an afro indie-pop artist, and yes, I fall in the line of storyteller type of songwriter mostly, but not always.
Being a genre that is different from what is coming out of Nigeria, what are the reactions coming from your Nigerian fans?
I’m not sure my genre is so different though, maybe my style. I think Afropop is going through that transition where you have lots of interpolation of other genres and subgenres into it, so now is probably the best time to make creative music.
What are some of the things you hope for listeners to take away from your music when they listen to it?
To listen and enjoy, every other artistic correlation should come naturally if the project is good enough.
When and what should we be expecting from your new project?
I think the end of July, I promise I’m working around the clock to make it happen. You should expect a more matured and musically inclined Ayola. I’d like to believe my songwriting has really improved and is probably top tier now, so the album should show it.