With over a decade playing the saxophone, Obasan Oluwagbemileke, popularly known as LayKay Sax, has made a living by serenading thousands of music lovers with sounds from his favourite instrument. Laykay, who brands himself as a ‘music service provider’ has performed currently performs with bands that service the crème of society. He has shared platforms with International acts like Cobhams Asuquo, Lara George, Folake Umosen, Frank Edwards, Freke Umoh, Donnie McClurkin, Israel Houghton, Alvin Slaughter, Lionel Peterson to mention but a few. He spoke to ROTIMI IGE about his journey so far.
Where did your love for the saxophone emanate from?
My love for the saxophone came from a very interesting experience. I was in secondary school and could already play a couple of instruments. On a very random day, I went to an event with some of my friends and met someone who was playing an instrument we could not recognise.
My friends assumed I would know and asked me what it was called. I took a wild guess and called it a saxophone. Apparently, I was right and I instantly took it upon myself to add that to my list of instruments. The rest, as they say, is history.
Tell us about your background
I am the second of three children. I grew up in Abeokuta, Ogun State. This may be unexpected but I actually have a degree in Animal Production and Health. But you know how this life is. Some of us pursue careers that are completely out of what we studied in the university. I also come across as gentle but I will tell you not to be fooled by that. (laughs)
How did your parents deal with you crossing over to music?
It was never easy. My parents wondered if I was in my right senses. But I remember, back then in school, we had a group called ‘Sons of Jubal’ that consisted of myself and a few other musically inclined friends. In 2009, we hosted a concert and invited Cobhams to headline the event. It was a 2000-seater hall and it was filled up. I invited my mother to witness this and I remember the pleasant surprise on her face. Her son did a big thing and I guess she had no choice but to support him.
Was there a point in your journey that you have considered trying something else?
I think I have been quite fortunate in my journey honestly. There has never really been a time I thought about quitting music. I have never used my university certificate for anything since I graduated 11 years ago and I can say easily that I have about 20 people who depend on me for their daily bread. Even when events were not consistent, I did not give up on it because every day cannot be a sunny day. So, I think I am doing something right with this saxophone. I hope and pray for more.
Who are the people you look up to?
There are a couple of people that I do look up to in Nigeria whose achievements are worthy of emulation. Firstly Mike Aremu, then a very good friend of mine, Beejay Sax.
Do you think a saxophonist can be as successful as a mainstream musician in Nigeria?
I do think a saxophone player can be as successful as a mainstream player or even better. It has been done already if you look around. This shows that if it can happen for one or two saxophonists, it can happen for others.
What is the biggest achievement that has happened to you from playing the saxophone?
It has given me outright fulfilment and access in places you would not imagine. Imagine playing at an event and someone just loves you for that, to the point of wanting to help you. I believe I am in a very good place and the biggest achievements for me are the most intangible things like this.
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