I cleaned toilets, loaded trucks to fund my music career in UK — Kuboye

Babatunmida Kuboye comes from a musical family and is the only son of Tunde and Fran Kuboye that rocked Lagos with their Extended Family Band in the 80s. Kuboye who has been in the United Kingdom returned to Nigeria recently to push his music career from the home front. In this interview with SEGUN ADEBAYO, the graduate of Birmingham University, speaks on how he’s gradually stepping into the shoes of his father and life in the UK.

You studied at the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom (UK) and you have lived there for a few years, at what point did music come in?

Music has always been there. I grew up performing with my parents. I am blessed to say that I saw the life of a musician from a very early age. I saw the graft and grind of being on the road, rehearsing, composing, performing and working with musicians. All along my education right up to university, I always did music when time permitted. At the university, I recorded and gave away mixtapes of my material at parties I promoted. I also performed at  university events. It was only after a while I decided to go public and pursue music commercially.


At what point did you feel you needed to come home to push your career and was it difficult leaving the UK for Nigeria?

I was making small headway in the UK but it became apparent after a while that if I am serious about pursuing music, the push needs to happen from Nigeria. I decided then that I need to be more frequent on the Nigerian music scene. It is always a difficult decision to leave a steady job or career and move back home for music


How did you survive in the UK as a student? What kind of job did you do to survive?

I wasn’t fortunate enough to have my education paid for by my parents. A lot of people don’t know this but founding ‘Down 4 Whateva Entertainment’ and promoting parties helped a lot to fund my education. I did a lot of other small small jobs like loading trucks, warehouse work, making burgers/cleaning toilets, shop attendant, retail assistant to provide for myself.


For somebody who studied Electrical Engineering, what could you possibly be doing in music?

Music is all about patterns and repetition. My engineering degree allows me to identify and isolate patterns. This is because engineering is a discipline that is methodic and uses logic. My creative side and my background allow me to build on the patterns.


 You once said that your background as an engineer has a connection with music, could you shed more light on this?

My masters degree is in radio/electromagnetic waves. Sound is an electromagnetic wave. So you could say I specialised in the science of sound. Apart from looking for patterns, my degree helps me understand how to distribute and place sound in my music


How has the music journey been so far?

It has been one hell of a ride. It has certainly had its ups and downs. I have learnt a lot – and I am still learning about music, the business and my place in all of it.


You released Mama, a song dedicated to your mum and you have also dropped a couple of songs, do you really think the Nigerian audience is ready for your kind of music?

Apart from Mama, other songs like Feel Alright, Nothing and the remix have been well received. This has given me a good indication that I am on the right track


 How has your schooling abroad shaped your music career?

There is no question that the culture and way of life abroad is different when compared to being at home. Being abroad allowed me to look in and observe as an outsider. It also allowed me to appreciate and compare the Nigeria sound with what was popular in the UK.


 You used to perform alongside your parents back then at their night club, Jazz 38 in Ikoyi, Lagos State. How would you describe the experience?

It didn’t just happen at the night club, sometimes we would perform at gigs, private parties and stadia. My parents always insisted that education came first – so it was always when it didn’t clash with school, lessons or homework.  It was easy for me because I was a ‘part time’ band member. There was no pressure on me to make money or to make an impression, so I would go with the flow and execute what was rehearsed


Your recent collaboration with Remininsce has been giving you some attention, what was it like working with him?

Reminisce is a great guy. Despite the fact that he is an A list celeb, he is  humble, approachable and easy to work with. I will always appreciate him for that. Not every made artiste behaves like Reminisce. He was also going through some tough times because he had just lost his dad – and he didn’t let that affect the work.


How would you describe the vibes in the studio with him?

We recorded our parts separately so we were not in the studio at the same time. I released the original and the feedback was great. We decided to get him on the remix to give it that edge. When he blessed it, it went all the way to the top.


You set up a record label, Down 4 Whateva Entertainment, when you were still in school, what brought about the idea?

There was no social scene or club for students to go and hear afrobeats, rap, RnB, bashment, dancehall when I was in the university. Unfortunately people who listened to these genres were considered to be ‘troublesome’, ‘violent’ and ‘rowdy’. I decided to find a venue, hire a dj and promote it initially just for students. It just so happened that majority of those people who appreciated the music were black and predominantly. After a while, the movement grew – and it provided a safe way for me to fund my education and take care of myself and my sister.


The music industry is very demanding and the competition is rife. How are you going to survive the competition and do you really think you have what it takes to pull it through?

This is very true. It’s tough out there and it’s only getting tougher. I will take it one day at a time, one project at a time with humility and an open mind every time. I will always compare myself to my last body of work, tweak what I can to improve and learn from my mistakes.  I can only take things one step at a time to get to where I know I want to be.


Who would you say you have patterned you music career after?

Definitely after my parents. Not many people I know have a professional career and do music at this level at the same time. Everyone else is either all in or all out


 What influences you to sing and write at the same time?

There are always ideas, melodies and lines floating around in my head. The ones I feel strongly about, I develop and work on like an essay until it’s complete. Sometimes things I hear can also spark an idea and I expand on it, building something around it.

There is no trigger but I will say I need to be in a good space in my mind to compose. If the vibes are not good, it will distract from my creative consciousness.


What should we be expecting from you again after your song with Reminisce?

Working with  Reminisce has definitely helped increase awareness of my music and brand. You can expect some more high-profile collaborations and of course, good music to go along with it.