Messiah Oyowe, popularly known as MezziBanks a.k.a Mr. Hold Sumtin, started 2020 with the release of his hit single ‘Choko’, produced by Demsa and mixed and mastered by Indomix. Having released ‘Hold Sumtin’ in 2018 and the chart-topping hit ‘My Heart’ in 2019, MezziBanks has gradually taken his place in the comity of promising music acts to look out for in 2020. In this interview with ROTIMI IGE, the BBTB Worldwide recording star speaks on growing up, making music and plans for music domination.
What was growing up in Nigeria like?
I grew up in a very lovely family:My dad, mum and three sisters. We were quite close and we loved one other. My dad was quite strict with me in particular. I always had to take care of my sisters and the house whenever my dad was away working. I had to answer for everything that went wrong in the house.
Was music your original career plan?
I grew up in a house where entertainment was highly loved. My dad, mum and my sisters loved to dance, so my first love was actually dancing. I remember that as a kid I always got invitations to birthday parties just because people wanted to see me dance. I was always a good dancer. But of course, my dad being an engineer, was the house fixer whenever anything became faulty. He always made me stand beside him whenever he was fixing something. So I became good at fixing things too. I eventually studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of Port Harcourt. But the plan was to leave the house because I knew my father would never let me do music. He wanted me to study up to PhD level, but I didn’t argue with him. I went to school, and I did music on the side. Unfortunately, Port Harcourt was not an entertainment hub as expected, so I had to constantly travel to Lagos. I knew at the time that if my father ever caught me, that was the end of my schooling in Port Harcourt, so I focused in school with the plan to start making money after school and pursue my music career. That was what I did because the goal has always been to do music.
How did you break into the music industry?
Breaking into an industry where the competition is stiff was not an easy process for me. I literally did not have anyone that was in the music industry. I didn’t even have a mentor or someone who was into music and entertainment. I had to start from scratch, and every decision I made had to navigate towards the end product, which was doing music. Aside from music, I act and I’m also a model. Anything that entertains, I’m into it. I had to ensure that every single decision I made navigated towards my sole purpose in life, so I had to make the right decisions and that was very difficult. That’s one of the things that kept me going, I had to focus.
How long have you been doing music, and did you face any form of criticism from people around you?
I don’t think there’s any artiste that doesn’t go through that. You would have done some dumb music that would get people laughing at you. I did some music back in the days in Port Harcourt that when I got to the studio, recorded and brought it back to my friends, they’ listened to it and started aughing. Most times they would call me by the title of the songs. Some of my friends still call me by those names. It did motivate me because I took the laughs and criticisms in a positive way. The fact that I could make a song and people could remember the words means that it’s a win-win for me. It also means that if I could do it properly, people would love what I do. “I’m probably not getting it right, that’s why they are laughing;” that was my rationale. Instead of bringing me down, it motivated me to go back to the studio, do more songs, take it back to them to laugh, listen to what they said and work on the faults. I never felt bad those days, I just used it to develop my craft.
When you came into the music industry. What were your expectations?
To be honest, music is actually fun now because I’ve been making music since 2007. Those who knew me then can testify to what I’m saying that I’ve always been an artiste. But for me, it wasn’t about just being an artiste; it was really love for the music. I really don’t care about what I become or who I become; I’m just doing it for the love of it and for the people who love what I do. I’m not trying to be a superstar or the number one artiste, I just want to share my happinesswith the world. That’s all that matters to me. I want to give the world good vibes. I’m an entertainer; I love to play and be happy. I hate being around sadness. I don’t like bad energy, so I want to spread my music to the world.
Many think there’s no space at the top in the Nigerian music industry, what are your thoughts on that?
I’m not just trying to occupy the Nigerian music space; I want to occupy the world music space. So, while people are struggling for just the Nigerian music space, I am on my own lane. I am my own competition, and my sole purpose is to be the best version of me. I set up a task for myself, I challenge myself and I go into competition with myself. When I win, I become a better version of myself. The focus is me. To start with, I never got anything from the Nigerian music space, so why would I jostle for a space there when I can just create my own space and be my king in my space?
You constantly try to cultivate a fan base here in Nigeria despite making a success of your music abroad. Why?
Nigeria is always home. I have to carry my people along and connect with my people always. It all started at home, so it’s only logical that I take my craft back home.
What collaborations can your fans in Nigeria look forward to?
Right now I can’t assure of any, but I’m open to collaborations with both up and coming artistes and superstars. If the vibes are good and the opportunity is there, I’d jump on a track. And if I’m in in the studio working and any artiste is around and they feel the vibe and they want to jump on it, they can. I’m not just doing music for myself; I’m doing music for the world. If any artiste has a nice rhythm they want to put on my sound, they can. I’m not actually particular about who is on my song, so far as the person is good.
What would you say inspires your music?
My environment, my current situation, how I feel at the point in time when I’m in the studio. It depends on whether I’m happy, sad, depressed or feeling energetic. It’s all about my emotions and environment. That’s what inspires even the rhythm and sound.
As an artiste in the Diaspora, would you say the Nigerian music industry is doing well compared to other music industries of the world?
To be honest, the Nigerian music industry is doing well, especially coming from a country that doesn’t support talents. I see the Nigerian music industry dominating the world in the next couple of years because of the speed with which our music is traveling now. Our music artistes are doing a great job, and they will do more. Very soon, we’ll dominate the market and be like the toast of the world. I see Naija Afrobeat getting there.