Popular singer, Korede Bello, tells TOFARATI IGE about his career, his roles in the #EndSARS protests, celebrity lifestyle and other issues
What current projects are you working on?
Making music is a lifestyle for me, so I have a lot of unreleased songs. Whenever I feel the time is right, I would give my people (fans) a proper project. By the way, have you listened to my last Extended Play album, Table For Two. There are beautiful songs in there, even if I say so myself.
What impact did the COVID-19 pandemic have on your career and how were you able to cushion its effects?
I wanted had decided to go on road touring last year (2020). I had just introduced my fans to the newly rebranded Korede Bello but COVID-19 started before we could hit the road.
So, we had to restrategise and I came up with Micasa Sucasa (which means ‘my house is your house’). With the help of Tik Tok, I was able to target a global virtual audience.
Do you get substantial royalties for your songs?
Yes, I do. I cannot disclose how substantial it is here because that is relative. However, I would say that when one has songs that are being streamed by a global audience, one is more likely to earn substantial royalty.
When was the first time you knew you wanted to become an artiste?
I never knew. I still don’t want to become an artiste. I am an artiste and I’m in the business of entertaining people. The currency is joy and the medium is art.
How would you describe your evolution as an artiste?
It has been grace. It started as something I enjoyed doing for myself and that gradually morphed into something I enjoy doing for others. Art is meant to be experienced and as long as I keep having new experiences, I would always find new ways to express them.
How would you define your sound?
My sound is not just a sound; it is a feeling. And, that feeling is ‘joyful’. Music is a language of emotions. It is not about how many languages one can speak, it is more about what one is saying. Music is not really about how it sounds but how it feels.
Some people feel love songs are not so marketable in Nigeria?
If love songs were not marketable, I think artists would have stopped singing them. If one outlines the biggest artists in Nigeria and their catalogues, one would see that they all have love songs as part of what made them ‘big’.
What is your biggest motivation?
That would be service. When I try to do this for myself, I fall short of motivation, but when I think of the people I do it for, I feel the drive to push forward.
Which foreign or Nigerian artiste would you like to collaborate with?
There are so many great artistes I would like to work with. For me, it is about the feeling, and not the sound. So, I love different genres of music and musicians.
As a police ambassador, what roles did you play in the #EndSARS protests, especially as regards articulating the demands of the youths to the police and other constituted authorities?
That was exactly what I did. I articulated our demands to the security chiefs in person.
What challenges do you face at this stage of your career?
It can be very challenging to change a perception of one from the mind of someone that does not want that perception to change.
What changes would you like to see in the music industry?
I would love to see more entertainers become more enlightened about how the business side of the industry actually works. I would also like to see more brand partnerships and endorsements.
Beyond your public image, how would you describe your personality?
I am a free-spirited soul; a bringer of light and goodness, just like my name, Akorede, implies.
What is the greatest sacrifice you’ve ever made for your career?
That would be temporary separation from intimate relationships.
What’s the most important advice you’ve been given in the course of your career?
There are so many of them. But, one of the most memorable ones I heard was, “There were people before you and there will be people after you. It is what you do with the moment you have that matters the most”.
Apart from being your record label boss, what impact did Don Jazzy have on your career?
He had a huge impact on my career. One of the things I learnt from him is that if one really wants to grow, one has to be genuinely interested in helping other people grow.
Do you have any plans to set up your own record label?
For now, that is not where my head is at. There are so many other things we can do to grow the industry, and setting up another record label is not one of them.
Apart from music, what other ventures are you involved in?
I run a not-for-profit organisation called the Korede Bello Initiative. It was set up for the all round development and wellness of young people, with emphasis on mental health.
Have you ever felt depressed for not having hit songs at any particular time?
I would not use the word depressed. It would be more like seeking clarity because I have been at a place where I just did not understand what was happening and did not want to continue doing ‘the music thing’ anymore, especially because most people just want another hit song from one. They don’t really care about one as much as they think they do. It is a transactional relationship. I felt objectified that my perceived contribution as a human being and an artiste was limited to me having hit songs. I make different types of music for different types of audience because ‘art is relative’ but I guess some things may never change. Musicians are humans, not machines.
Some people feel Don Jazzy has a lot on his hands and is not giving your career the attention it deserves. What’s your reaction to that?
I don’t react to things; I respond. There is a verse in the Holy Bible that says, “Unless the Lord builds a house, the builders labour in vain. I have trust in God’s plan for me because He is the Master builder and orchestrator.
How do you handle negative comments on social media?
It depends on the type of energy it comes with. There are some things that are said that contain elements of truth but are not communicated properly, or with courtesy. In cases like that, I take what I need and leave the rest. I have also come to realise that if someone speaks to one with negative energy, it has nothing to with one. How one responds is up to one.
Many artistes go broke trying to look expensive. What are your thoughts on that?
I can understand why some people do that. We are in a perception business. People pay one according to how valuable they perceive one to be. The challenge is to know when to apply wisdom. True value is not in how one appears but in what one personally believes about oneself.
What unfulfilled dreams do you have?
My life is a story that is still unfolding. So, my only dream is to please God everyday as long as I am alive. Thankfully, there is more time to make that a reality.
How would you define your style?
Simple and sexy (laughs).
What habit would you love to drop and which would you like to cultivate?
I would like to drop the habit of procrastination and master the habit of awareness— the ability to live in the moment and be satisfied with the will of God.