Deji Abdul on Music, Independence and his Upcoming EP

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Since his first release, Hold You Down, on SoundCloud, fans have been hooked to his soulful voice from one track to the other. Deji Abdul, the UK-based Nigerian artiste, has been busy putting finishing touches to his debut EP which is scheduled for release later in the year.

We spoke to Deji Abdul on his music, how he wants to be perceived by fans, when and what to expect from his coming project. 

The conversation, lightly edited for clarity, follows below.

Is Deji Abdul a stage name?

It’s pretty much my name, I wanted to go with something more original. I wanted something people would know it’s me like there is no counterfeit. So, I just used my name and it was catchy enough I guess.

When did you drop your first project and how was the reception? 

Wow, that was like 2016. I dropped Hold You Down on SoundCloud at the time because that (SoundCloud) was where you could drop stuff as an up and coming artiste and see whether or not people are messing with your sound and so, I dropped it there and bro, it was crazy after the first week, a lot of people were reaching out from nowhere and I was like wow, that’s music. Just put it out there and let it circulate.  

Under what genre would you classify your music?

I would say afro-pop/RnB/Rnb-soul/afro-soul. I would not really say Alté because it’s not really alternative but I love the Alté vibe, I love the people doing their thing right now but my sound is not Alté. It is more RnB, like a cocktail of RnB sounds. If you listen to the record with Juls, Want you, I am proper singing on that track. I am a vocalist and I want my fans to know that I can make these records but I wouldn’t want to be put in a box and I feel my EP would address that. It would showcase that I can do afro-pop on Power of love and I can do RnB like Want You and some summer tunes as well. I want people to enjoy my music as a refreshing vibe.

What inspired your earlier sounds?

I would say nobody really influenced my sound. I’m really an artiste that does things straight from my own perspective, it’s how I want it. I have people who inspire me but I wouldn’t say I did it because of this person. I did it because this is what I want my sound to be like. I wanted to carve my own sound. 

Are you deliberately staying off features or they are not forthcoming?

(Laughs) Yes, it’s a deliberate thing because I want to cement myself as an artiste first. I wouldn’t want to be that artiste killing features but can’t deliver on his own records because he is relatively unknown. I would want people to know my sound first, then the features would roll in. 

Are there artistes you would love to work with in the future? 

Yes, there are people I would love to work with. Like Tems, she is very good, and I feel another person is Wani. I feel if Wani and I work together, it would be a great project, but it’s not yet time. Then Burna Boy as well. I would have loved to have him on the EP but my producer couldn’t make that call in good time. There are other artistes I would really like to work with as well, a lot of them but I am just trying to take it slow.

You are an independent artiste. How is that working out for you?

I have been independent throughout yeah, although, some labels reached out when I dropped Bandana but they were not really saying much. One thing I would say is, it’s been very difficult. I wouldn’t really advice being independent for a very solid act because the industry is really hard and tasking if you don’t have the machinery and finances to push your music.

When should we expect the EP, is there an official release date yet? 

The EP would have a release date as soon as I drop a video for Power of Love and that video should drop by end of October. I have to tell you right now that my EP would change the game. If anyone listens to it, I believe it would change everything. So, I don’t want to rush it but my fans should expect the best. It would be six exciting and fresh songs.

What is your goal/aim as an artiste? 

My biggest goal right now is to be the best in Africa. To make sure my music is heard everywhere. 

Advice for other Independent acts?

You just have to keep working and you just have to make sure you push, get out there and just trust in the music everything would fall in place. If you trust the music and work hard, I feel like it would definitely happen.

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