Some are simply a pure Joy to converse with and this was the case with singer, songwriter, photographer, consultant and silver screen newbie Bemyoda.
His passion was music was first passed on to him through his father who was musically inclined.
The Benue born folk singer released an album recently, named Stark that features songs such as ‘told you’, ‘Renegade Soldier’ as well as many more soul moving combinations of music and lyrics.
He's got the calm of a zen garden and the witty crack of an English pirate. (Wicked)
AMN: I don’t know if you get this a lot but when you say Bem-Yoda, is it like 2 different names?
Bem: Bem is my first name, Yoda is my surname
AMN: so do you get the star wars Joke, a lot?
Bem: Too much. People just call me Yoda, A lot of people just call me Yoda
AMN: Are you wise then?
Bem: well, I hope so. If I was foolish I don’t think I would be sitting here, there’s a reason why you are talking to me, you know.
AMN: yeah…because you have to be wise to do some good music right?
Bem: (In a laugh)
AMN: I mean, I don’t mean banging music, like club banging music you know?
Bem: Well club banging music, some of it is not exactly bad and here’s what I mean.
So there’s this thing where we categorise a certain genre as good music and the music they play in the club is bad music. I don’t see it like that, I see it as different genres of music so there’s good music everywhere. There’s some cub music that it good and there’s the ones that are just literally horrible. Yeah, I don’t go to clubs and it’s not like I’m trying to promote club music but I just feel like one of the issues is us in Nigeria, we’ve made that a thing, so we’ve made all the body shaking music, the music and so everything else is alternative. But in other places, everybody has an audience, it’s not about good music and bad music, every genre has an audience.
ANM: Oh wow, Yoda!
Bem: (Has a laugh) that just sounded wise didn’t it?
AMN: It sounded so enlightened. You just released an album, how is that going?
Bem: Err, its going well, yeah! It’s going well, I tunes is giving me issues but it’s going well, people are having issues buying on iTunes but the feedback has been great.
AMN: when I had a look at your album launch, you had a silent listening party?
Bem: Ok, Yeah it was, and it wasn’t a party, I wouldn’t call it a party. It was just an album listening and I didn’t want to do the regular stuff you know, people gather, you play music, they listen, people talk about it, comment, ask questions but I just thought that for the kind of music it is, I don’t trust Nigerians to pay attention that closely especially when they are in a room full of people and everybody has access to everybody else.
So they are listening, but they are distracted and because of what I was saying, I wanted to have their attention. Secondly I wanted to tell the story on 2 levels, so the music was one and the pictures were another so it was like a two layered storytelling so you are listening to music and you are looking at an image that represents it and it just makes a stronger connection. Not everybody listens to music the same way, some are listening and get lost, they follow what the writer is saying, they can follow the story some other people don’t, so the visual aspect made it stronger.
There are people that came there and cried because they were listening to something and then they were seeing an image that’s even made it all stronger.
So there were all of these people, but the headphones are noise cancellation headphones so it’s like you are there by yourself. So it was a good different experience.
AMN: Would you be doing the same in Abuja?
Bem: we want to, but then the logistic of putting that together, we are still trying to work out. On one hand, it was an album listening and on the other, we sold images. And that’s how we were able to cover the costs. But then the art market in Abuja is not as…you know, we’ve gone round, we’ve had meetings, met with galleries and its seeming like it might be trickier to pull off here than in Lagos.
AMN: So, Stark is the name of the album. I don’t know why you put yourself in these situations because now we are asking is it game of thrones stark? Stark like naked? And I see you’ve had to answer it a few time but still just tell us.
Bem: Stark so it wasn’t a thing where I had this album name and then I went to write music to fit into it. It just was, I have these collection of songs, what’s the best way to represent it? What’s this one word that literally explains where my mind is? And basically the songs are very bare in terms of things that I’m talking about. I’m talking about things that we generally don’t talk about in music. There’s a song there that was inspired by the situation in northern Nigeria where children are getting killed called ‘child ‘ there’s renegade soldier that talks about Nigeria, there’s complicated that talks about how complicated life is, how much we do not have control over so much, you know. Something can happen that changes your life entirely and you can’t do anything to stop it, so a lot of it is heavy. You know how there’s no sugar coating, how something is undressed. It’s as it is, its stark naked…
AMN: *wink wink* (laughing pause) I’m sorry just carry on.
Bem: shame on you! (to me) It’s bare and that’s why some people listen to stuff and cry. The connection and the stuff that I write about is raw. So basically that’s what it is. I wrote about all sorts of things, from God, to life, Nigeria to wars, conflict.
To Be Continued...
Here's the captivating video for "I Told You"