The connection we find with music, culture and identity is one that cannot be overlooked or said not to exist. They all work in hand, one way or the other, in defining the other but how exactly is this connection formed? Who better than, Olawale Oloforo, popularly know as BrymO to give us more insight into this. This interview takes you on an exciting journey of culture, music and identity, through the words and thoughts of BrymO. Enjoy this insightful with ASIRI’s Ona Akinde
ASIRI– Behind the music, when all the doors are closed, who is BrymO?
Err, okay *laughs*, Brymo is just a regular guy. You know, I sleep, wake, eat, shit *laughs*. You know pretty much regular. I spend most of my time just listening to music and you know, relaxing and of course, when I’m not doing anything, it’s an opportunity for me to actually rejuvenate, to re -energize myself. So when the doors are closed, I’m pretty much like everybody else
ASIRI- What exactly is music for you?
Music, *laughs*. Music is like air, it makes everything bearable, irrespective of what you’re going through, whether you’re happy or you’re sad, or you’re just there. Music is useful at every point in time. There’s music for joy, for pain, there’s music for everything and that gives me an opportunity to constantly express myself in different ways. So when I’m sad, I create a moment; when I’m happy, it’s a moment and all of it put together. So music is everything.
ASIRI- So what inspires your music?
Pretty much everything *laughs*. You know, people, events, emotions, everything I can find. For me, music is like a serious thing while I’m being a child. So I can just experiment a lot, I work with everything I can. I think from the very beginning of my career, till now, I have worked with about 7 – 10 genres of music. I started out with Fuji and R&B, Ajuju, I’ve worked with Rock, Pop and recently, I’ve considered doing something with Apala. So it’s all about experimenting, creating new vibes on every project. The inspiration comes from everything across the world
ASIRI– What comes to your mind when you hear this word?
Identity means, how you are perceived, how people see you when they look at you. Identity is the soul of your being and creates all perceptions of you. So what people think of you is in your identity. Basically, this is what identity is.
ASIRI– To what extent has your music gone in defining your identity?
Oh, wow. A very long extent *laughs* I’m not sure if I have any identity outside music. I’m probably just a faceless guy without the music and music is 95% of my identity *laughs*
ASIRI– How would you define your identity?
I’m outspoken, I try to be as objective as I can be and I believe that I am nothing if my kind doesn’t progress. So my progress is useless, if people who are close and related to me are not progressing, family, friends, colleagues, my state, country, continent, and black people all over the world. My joy lies in that progress, that collective progress because if the group progresses, then I automatically progress.
ASIRI– Do you think the words, culture and identity are connected?
Oh, yes. The person you are is how you live your life, day in, day out and how you live your life, day in, day out is your culture. What do you worship, if you worship anything? What do you wear? What do you say? What do you eat? All of this things put together make up who you are and most importantly, how do you think? Sometimes I like to exclude fashion, food and language from culture. I believe culture basically is how you think, whether you think positively or negatively, progressively or regressively. So culture and identity are very much intertwined.
ASIRI– Has culture influenced your music in any way?
Yes, a lot. I think that when you compare your culture to that of other people, particularly from other races or people from other countries, the essence is to find the balance. What are the thoughts you have in your head, your thought processes? Things in your day to day life that you thought were attractive, but they’re not necessarily attractive and then you find in other cultures, things are done differently. So I believe that my duty is to compare cultures and pick out the best in mine and the best in theirs. I believe the variety in cultures around the world helps us to decide what is good in our culture and what is not good enough because we see other people and how they behave, then compare it to ours. So for me now, when I make music, I look for the best of my culture and infuse it in my music and then I also look around the world for other cultures and fuse everything together in such a way that shows that I strived to create a masterpiece, to create music that people can actually identify with, wherever they are, as long as you can hear what I’m saying. I find a way to just relate the melody, the lyrics and everything to everyone, so that it doesn’t become one sided. I believe in an ultimate culture, a universal culture.
ASIRI– Has culture made you the man you are today in any way?
Yes, it has, in a lot of ways. We live in an era where a lot of people don’t have a connection with, who they really are; people don’t have any identity whatsoever. They just live their lives day in, day out but if you have an identity, you are forced to channel your life in a certain direction and then a lot of people think it’s boring, to have a set of principles, a particular method or pattern of behavior that can actually define somebody or some people so they behave randomly but for me, I’m constantly looking for how to channel myself to be better because you can never be good enough. When you make mistakes, you keep correcting yourself so ultimately, I am learning my own culture, by fusing the culture of my people with other cultures around. Day in, day out, I’m improving and I’m still on the journey to finding that universal culture. *laughs*
ASIRI– To what extent do you think music is a viable tool for preserving and promoting culture?
Oh, it is, all the time, to a very large and deep extent. Music is like the voice of the people. When you watch a movie, there’s music, when you’re at a stadium watching football, it’s the same. There’s absolutely nothing in the world that there’s not some music in it, so music determines a lot. In fact, a society is as good or bad as the kind of music it listens to. So a society should have a balance when it comes to music. People must dance, however, they must reflect. So while people are dancing, drinking and partying, when they get home, they need to be able to slot something in that makes them go, “oh, what a life.” That balance becomes necessary for any society to thrive. Music is everything, it is beautiful, it is ugly, it is fine; it makes you laugh and makes you cry, because that’s what music should do
ASIRI– Where do you see your music in the next couple of years?
Um, well I pretty much just want to make music and meet new people, gain new fans all over the world. Have people listen and love my music. My hope is to always find a way to keep relating my story to people and get more people to listen. I’ m not worried about the number of years it takes; I’m more interested in eventually. So I can’t tell you what I expect in five years. I could say I’d be the biggest artiste on earth and I end up being the biggest in the entire universe *laughs*. At the end of the day, there are no promises; there are no expectations, just belief and me trying to be happy. I’ll just keep making the music and people will keep listening. I hope the fan base keeps growing, more people tuning in and that’s the most important thing.
ASIRI– What do you think of the idea that our culture is dying and losing its essence?
All over the world, cultures are losing their essence and that’s because, when you’re in a group here doing what you’re doing and thinking that’s what you should be doing, some other things are going on and while those other things are going on, it will reflect and influence what you’re doing. More importantly, in our own case, we live in a world where we as a people contribute little or nothing to solving the problems of the world, we just consume. So the people, who solve the problems, bring their products to us and it influences our culture. So if we’re worried about our culture losing its essence, then we must first of all start by fixing all our problems ourselves. If we can fix our problems ourselves, invent our own TV, our own cars, satellites, invent our own guns, invent everything by ourselves, then we can start to depend less on people and promote the preservation of our culture. However, ultimately, all cultures intertwine. People wear Denim and Western clothing in Japan, people eat Sushi now in Lagos, there are Nigerian restaurants now in New York, Malaysia, so cultures automatically, will intertwine. What makes you think that a Malaysian has never walked into a Nigerian restaurant to eat Eba? It happens even here, it’s the same way we eat spaghetti. People and cultures all over the world always find a way to intertwine. That’s why I believe that ultimately, it is the thought process that matters and our culture isn’t going anywhere, we live here, we are here, we are the people that belong here so our thought process is what we should pay attention to, not our clothes and other things. It doesn’t really matter that much but I believe also, that coming together and solving our problems collectively is the ultimate culture. When we start doing this, we will notice that our culture is not going anywhere, it is going to be here.
ASIRI– Your music carries some cultural undertones, is this deliberate?
Yes, it is very deliberate. You see, it’s easier to not put those cultural undertones, it’s easier to just want to be western and to just want to be fly and all that, but that essence of trying to speak my language more often, trying to talk about things in relation to my own people is necessary, which is why I look for these things and fuse it with things that I have been influenced by all over the world, so that people can actually relate with the music and know more and this goes beyond me putting my culture, it becomes universal.
ASIRI– Do you have any favorite cultural saying or proverb?
Umm, yeah, I think they’re like a thousand and one of them. There’s this one I like a lot that means something to me. I heard it from a friend and every time I remember, it guides me. “Ti amba fi eyin si owo otun,eyin si owo osi,ki a wa r in lati ebiyi lo si Iseyin,enia yen a yen,eni o ni yeni ko ni yene”
It simply means that, irrespective of what you do, you can never please everybody, you’re not Jollof rice *laughs*. It’s impossible for you to please everyone.
ASIRI– Final Words?
Constantly log on to the Asiri magazine site, there’s a lot of good content on here, you’ll find amazing things, you’d find BrymO here *laughs*. We’re here at Freedom Park and the scenery is beautiful. I’m enjoying myself.
ASIRI “It was such an insightful interview with BrymO. Thanks for having us”
Location of Interview-Freedom Park Lagos,Broad Street.