I’m bringing mental health awareness through music – Banjo

Going through a life-changing experience can be intense for many people, and Nigerian artiste, Tobiloba Abimbola Banjó is no different. Having survived a fatal accident seven years ago, he found his new path through music and that is what he reveals in this interview with SEGUN ADEBAYO.

When did you discover your love for music?

 

I first discovered my love for music at my primary school events in Nigeria. They had shows where each grade or class would do a music performance for parents.  While I never shied away from a chance to dance for the guests, I envied those kids that took the courage to do a singing performance. In 2005, my parent relocated to Canada and my music instrument was one of the valuables I took with me. I’ve always kept my singing private until now and sometimes, I like to think there was a part of ‘Banjó’ that was anxiously waiting to be let out of the cage to roar, or in my case, sing.

 

Did you ever think you would pursue music professionally?

No, but because I felt I didn’t have the talent but because I always doubted my resilience to do what it takes for a solid music career. Fast forward to 2013, I experienced a traumatic event and lost my best friend in the process. Pursuing music professionally was definitely out of the plans. My main focus was on my recovery and getting back to living a normal life. While in Canada, my rehab therapist/music instructor was helpful in getting my passion back for music. Towards the end of 2020, I had about eight songs recorded already in Canada and though my rehab therapist always encouraged me to release my music, I had doubts I would ever take that step. Late last year, I decided to join my mother on her holiday back home (Nigeria) and she suggested I learn production in ‘Tenstrings Music Institute’ to keep myself busy. That was the best decision ever because it started a chain of events that has led me here, pursuing my dream.

 

What was your background, growing up, like?

Growing up I had very loving and supportive parents and amazing siblings who were able to recognise my passion and encouraged it. The support and love I received growing up has shaped me into the man I am today.

 

How would you describe your music?

I would describe it as a blend of Afro-fusion, contemporary pop with a little R&B flavour to it.

 

What else would you do if not music?

If not music, I will definitely be in the mental health field, mainly because my accident gave me an awareness of the difficulties of living with an ‘invisible injury’, such as chronic pain, chronic fatigue, brain injury symptoms (depression, apathy, anxiety, etc). If I could bring more awareness about mental health to Nigeria through my music, it will be a great fulfilment.

 

What other aspect of showbiz would you consider if you had to?

Honestly, I would love to be part of an all-men talk show, something like ‘The View’ on ABC network. But I doubt there’s anything like that right now.

 

What collaborations are you looking forward to?

Don Jazzy producing my first album.

 

Most talents and creatives go through some sort of crucible before they break out, either in form of family restrictions or people not accepting their music. Did you experience that at all?

 

Fortunately, it’s been a smooth ride since I decided to do this. My family has been extra supportive, especially my Mom (Mama Banj). I’ve received lots of encouragement from my folks. The only trial has been continuously having to battle the doubts of the music working out.

 

The Nigerian music industry is one of the biggest and most competitive in Africa, how easy was it for you to break into the industry?

There’s so much talent in Nigeria but with good music and a solid team, Banjó is unstoppable.

 

What was the most surprising thing about making music in Nigeria for you?

 

The most surprising thing was that there is a market for my type of music, and I didn’t have to follow the noise.

 

Tell us about your new song.

The funny thing is that I was so reluctant to release ‘Isioma’ because I felt I was being too vulnerable. If not for Mr Akapo’s belief in the song, ‘Isioma’ would still be in the vault right now.

 

What’s the next big thing we can expect from Banjo?

Only God knows. Whatever it is, I’m ready.

 

Which of the musical legends would you say inspire you?

Tosin Martins! His song ‘Olo Mi’ is the best love song ever! I’m definitely going to be singing that to the future Mrs Tobi-Banjo.

 

Many believe entertainers court controversies to stay relevant. What’s your take?

 

The saying is “any publicity is good publicity”, so, ‘do what you gat to do’.

 

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