Ayoleyi Solomon, known as Reekado Banks is a new entrant into the music scene after signing under Don Jazzy’s Mavin Records. In this interview, he shares with Tony Chinedu how he met Don Jazzy, and the record deal
Give us a brief information about Reekado Banks and Ayoleyi Solomon?
I am a musical artist signed to Mavin Records. There is a different between Reekado Banks and Ayoleyi Solomon. Reekado is funny and playful. He is always in the studio and at shows. My hobbies are playing games when I am less busy. I played FIFA (soccer TV game) precisely and I am very good at it. My growing up was quite fun and interesting, though I was born into a Christian home and my father is a pastor. We were restricted from going out, but the little chances I had I used them well. We are six children; I am the last born. I was born in Ejigbo, Lagos State and I spent 11 years of my life there before I moved to Meiran. I later moved to Ketu and then to Ikorodu in Lagos. But when I got admission into UNILAG to study History and Strategy Studies, I moved to Akoka. I am a graduate now; I had my convocation ceremony today (Tuesday).
Tell us about your journey into music?
We thank God for where he has brought us. I am looking at it from where we started in 2008; it wasn’t so smooth. I knew I wanted to do music since 2008 and I recorded my first song in 2010. Then, it was all about getting a label and getting my music to be heard.
What were you doing before 2008?
I was not doing anything music, though I could sing since when I was a kid. In 2008, I graduated from the secondary school, Barnfield College in Meiran, Ogun State. In my school I don’t think anyone knew me as anything. I was really calm and I was the youngest in my class; I graduated at the age of 14. I didn’t really mix up with people; I preferred to be left alone. But in my house they would tell you different thing about me. At home they would say I am so funny, but the moment I step out of the house I am a different person.
Is Mavin your first record deal?
The first record label is Mavin, but I used to be under a management company called TOT. My brother, Temi Solomon, was running it. He was the one that did all the running around for me. He acted as my producer and manager at a time. He also got me into Mavin. How did you get to know Don Jazzy? It was a miracle; it wasn’t that I planned anything because there was no way I could have known Don Jazzy. He put it out on the internet that people should send in their singles to a particular email. I didn’t actually see it but my brother did and applied without my knowledge. To cut the long story short I was picked out of 5,000 people.
Are you sure they were able to listen to all the 5,000 songs?
I was told they listened to them all. At the initial stage, I didn’t know we were about 5,000 people because no one told me the number of people who sent in mails. It was like three months when I was already a part of the Mavin that I heard it from the brand manager, Tega Oghenejobo. He was talking about how stressful it was for him to pick and it dawned on me that I was not grateful enough.
How did you get the news of the deal?
I didn’t know about it all the while until we got to the studio on that fateful day. They didn’t know it was my brother because he kept acting like me. They asked him to come do a test run in the studio and he told me we were going out. It was on August 26, 2013, around 2pm. I reluctantly followed him. I just noticed that he brought me a particular sweet I like to take to clear my throat. When we got to the gate of the estate in Lekki, Don Jazzy’s house, I just felt there was something abnormal. There were much security protocols; we had to start making calls. We finally gained entrance and waited in the studio. At that time nobody was there, but I saw awards and I checked the name. I was astonished to see Don Jazzy’s name on them. But I didn’t see Don Jazzy that day; it was another producer who attended to us. In about two hours, we recorded like seven songs. He just kept playing beats and I kept recording. I resolved that there is no way I would leave Ikorodu for Lekki and go back home without achieving anything; it was like a do-or-die. So, we left the studio. When we got to the gate of my house at Ikorodu, we got a call from Tega that Jazzy just heard everything and he liked it. He said they would keep us posted; that was how it all started.
Was there no objection from your pastor father?
Luckily for me, there was no objection because he had told my elder ones to do one thing or the other that didn’t work out well as he had anticipated. So, when it got to my turn, he just said I should do what I love to do but I should remember God.
How has it been as a Mavin?
It has been really amazing. The Supreme Mavin Dynasty is not just a record company; it is a family. Everyone accepted me like they knew me. D’ Prince at the first meeting talked with me as if he knew me from somewhere. I was holding back my normal self, but the way he attended to me I couldn’t ignore him. I wondered why he was so nice to a random guy. When I met Dr. Sid, Don Jazzy and Tiwa it was the same story too.
How many songs have you released under Mavin?
We have recorded over 80 songs, but we have dropped just three singles. “Turning up” featuring Tiwa Savage was my debut. It was then followed by “Chop Am” while “Katapot” is the most recent. The video for “Katapot” has been shot by Unlimited L.A and it drops in the first week of May. How did you come about “Katapot?” It is actually a love song; it is not anything serious. Before I recorded that song the previous 10 songs I had recorded were not love songs. I just felt that I was being too much of a bad boy. So, when Jazzy made the beat, I just felt it was the right time for me to do a love song because the beat sounded so much spiritual and emotional. Don Jazzy also liked the fact that I wanted to do a love song again. I had done love songs before, but there was none in the last 10. I amazingly did freestyle for the whole first verse. Don Jazzy and others in the studio then fell in love with it.
How do we describe your music?
Basically, I don’t like to name my music because it is like putting me in a box. I am a kind of person who loves to please people and cuts across different people. So, you cannot find me doing one style of music all the time. My first song featuring Tiwa was dancehall, the second was afro beat and “Katapot” is a very slow and cultural RnB.
Are you saying you are willing to displease yourself to satisfy people?
I don’t think that is called displease; I think it is called versatility. I don’t see myself liking a particular genre of music, probably because of the kinds of music I listened to while growing up. I listened to the likes of Ebenzer Obey, Sunny Ade, Fela, Shina Peters, Don Moen and Tuface. So, I have different kinds of music in my head. But in the last six years my favourite genre has been reggae.
Which song do you think push you into limelight?
I would say “Adaobi.” It was the song that made people to know who I am and the fact that I could sing.
Don’t you feel a sort of pressure to deliver as a Don Jazy’s artiste?
There is actually a pressure to do well, but I don’t let what people say to affect me. I am the one putting pressure on myself; it is not like I am really bordered about what people say. I am expecting so much not because I am a Mavin, but because I want to be successful.
How do you view love?
“Katapot” is almost a reflection of who I am, but people for some reasons think I am so hard. I like t h e i d e a of love and I f e e l it is a great thing.
Is dreadlocks your identity or what?
This is me actually. There is definitely going to be plans to remove it sometimes. Timaya took out his dread, but for now this is my identity.
How do you describe Don Jazzy?
He is super talented. I have been in the studio with him many times and I know what it means to work with him. His hard work is next to none. It is surprising that with all his achievement he still puts in so much work. Most times he sleeps around 9am. He would be in the studio trying to get that next sound and he does this every day. I feel that he is a legend already, so why the stress? He is the one who motivates those of us that are coming up. He doesn’t joke with God too.