AMN: Now speaking about God, do you find that people tend to box you in the religious line because of the kind of folky feel of your songs? Because you aren’t straight up singing the shake your booty sort of songs.
Bem: this is a very touchy subject because I’ve had fights, broken friendships and relationships because of this. But for me it’s pretty straight forward and simple. It took me a while to get here but it’s a thing of understanding that when music is called Christian, a lot of the time it’s a marketing thing. It’s not a bad thing and there’s nothing wrong with it.
On one hand it feels like it’s a box, on the other hand, the music itself is a box. For me now, it’s a thing where once you are Christian, you are Christian. I don’t think that I have to label everything that I do after that, but everything that I do has to come from my faith.
So if you listen to stark from the beginning to end, nobody has to tell you that this guy is Christian, nobody has to tell you there’s something spiritual about this.
I feel like there’s a lot of times where Christians say “ my gospel music, I want to use it to reach the world” you are not using gospel music to reach the world because the world is not listening to gospel music. The church is listening to gospel music. So you are using your music to edify the church but don’t say it’s a tool to reach the world because how are you reaching them? First of all they will not listen to it if it’s called Christian, cos that’s not what they want to listen to, secondly as a Christian can you speak to the issue of life? As a human being and from a Christian perspective?
Yes you should be able to, I should be able to sing about boko haram killing children in the north, because it affects me, as a human being. It affects me as a Christian, I should be concerned about that, I should be concerned about Nigeria enough and if I want to put it in a song, it should be the right thing to do as a Christian.
But this is a challenge mostly from the church because I sing about Nigeria now, like in the song called Renegade Soldier, where I’m basically saying there’s all of these issues happening and we should stand up and speak for what is right, we should stand up and do the right thing. What is
un-christian about that? But it doesn’t fit into worship music so people tell you, you are circular. Is that really circular? It isn’t.
So it’s a twisted conversation and a lot of times I don’t like to get into it, because it can go round and some people feel like you are doing it because it’s a money thing, you want a big market. When honestly in Nigeria, beside club and party music, the next big market is gospel music. So in doing this, I’m depriving myself because I’m not making party music and neither am I making Christian music so in essence I’m shooting myself in the foot. But people don’t see it that way, they feel like you are for the world, you want to get money.
But then again I don’t feel like is should make worship music for money, if I’m called to do that…fine.
I still write worship songs, I still sing in church, I still go to minister in places and sing worship because that’s who I am as a Christian but I don’t think that it should stop us from, doing other things, because if you say that then it affects everything else.
It affects movie, it affects education and so much more.
We have this thing where we put music on a pedestal by itself and sort of separate it from life so you hear a Christian say, “ I cant listen to your music, its not christian” but you can watch game of thrones? But you can watch Isoken?
There’s nothing Christian about it, in that sense. It’s almost like saying “ this person is gay but I tell a lie so his sin is greater.” So it’s a thing of understanding. When God is involved people tend to get very sentimental.