Interview: Clemzy On His Journey As A Music Producer And His Forthcoming Debut EP

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Afrobeats producer Clemzy has been on the music radar for a hot minute. Standing out with his signature tag; ‘Bring the heat Clemzy,’ he got his big break after producing a couple of L.A.X. songs including Gobe featuring 2Baba, Loose My Mind and the 2020 hit Go Low. Clemzy has gone on to become one of the first producers to jump on the Amapiano wave in Nigeria and amassed an impressive catalogue featuring big names like Tiwa Savage and Mayorkun. Following in the steps of great producers such as DJ Khaled and nobody’s mate – Sarz, Clemzy is set to release his first body of work. During our conversation conducted over Zoom, Clemzy, born Nnawuba Onyebuchi Clemsy, takes us through his musical journey so far and what’s next for him.

Can you tell me how you got your start in music?  

I grew up in two places, Port Harcourt and Owerri. Back in secondary school, I loved music a lot. Growing up, I lived with my grandmother so we played highlife music, like Osadebe. I am from the eastern part of the country. I have always loved music growing up. I used to sing before I started producing. I decided I wanted to go into production back in 2009 when I moved to Lagos because I think I preferred it and the creativity behind producing music. I would see the way they make beats when I go to the studio, it was entertaining and nice to watch. I loved it a lot. The creativity behind sound-making is always crazy. I remember going to the studio with a friend and he was learning how to produce then. I told him I wanted to start production and he encouraged me. He said I should put my mind to it and that he would teach me. From 2012, I took it very seriously and started making nice beats. I started with Hip-Hop beats then switched to Afrobeats when I realized that Hip-Hop was not selling in Nigeria. It’s been a crazy journey. The road to success is not always easy. You have to strive for it, but we thank God so far. 

Who was your inspiration when you started and has it evolved or remained the same?

Back in the day, I loved Sean Paul a lot, 50 Cent, 2face, D’banj, P-Square because they always created inspirational music. On the production side, Dr Dre, Swizz Beatz and Scott Storch. From 2008, I loved ID Cabasa, Don Jazzy, OJB Jezreel and Sarz. 

Could you walk us through your artistic process? Do you picture the artist first before you create or do you create first with no one in mind?

I make beats like an artist. I put myself in an artist’s shoes and ask what an artist likes. Like if I am meant to give this beat to Wande Coal, can he kill it? Working with L.A.X, most of the time I create the idea down but I know what he likes most so I create it and let him know I have something for him, then he comes in and kills it. It depends on the inspiration. Sometimes I might have an idea of creating something different entirely or I might not have an artist in mind, I just create something and an artist hears it and kills it. Occasionally, I like to be alone in the studio when I am making beats because it helps me think. When people are around, your attention is divided. When I am in the studio alone, I focus and before you know it, the vibe is ready.

You work with several artists but you have been L.A.X’s main producer since you worked on his first album. How did that happen?

L.A.X is like my family. You know when friends turn to family. Most of the time, we are always together. When I am creating a vibe and he tells me he likes a beat and wants to sing on it, I don’t tell him no. However, I try as much as possible to work with other artists. As for my favourite song I produced for L.A.X, he didn’t drop it. I think it was 2018, the song was so bad. I don’t why he didn’t put it out. Artists have a way they think and sometimes you can’t change their mind once they have passed that phase since they record every day and create new songs. That song will never come out. He once explained why he decided not to put out the song telling me; “Clemzy my voice don change, no be like before. It get as e be if I put am out.”

What’s your favourite L.A.X song you have produced so far?

I think Sempe is my favourite of all time because that record is great. We knew it would be a hit on the day we made that song. Perhaps, it might not do a lot in Nigeria but across the world, it would and that was what happened. I kept playing the drums every day, then I called my guitar guy to the studio. We were playing together when L.A.X walked in. He was stunned by the beat and before I know it, he was humming a melody that I felt was sick. We immediately created the song together along with the guitar guy.

You are one of the first Nigerian producers to jump on the Amapiano sound with L.A.X’s monster record Go Low, how did that happen and do you have any predictions on the next big sound?

I think it was in December 2019. when my friend came back from South Africa. She introduced me to a few Amapiano songs and I was mind blown. I met Fresh, a fellow producer, and he told me about the Amapiano wave. I told him I felt the vibe will take over 2020 and 2021. We all went back and I started working on Go low and he started working on Of Lagos for Mayorkun, who put it out first. I started working on Go Low but I didn’t make it sound like their own vibe fully, I infused more Afrobeat melodies to make it different from their own. I think this year what would pop more would be more of Afrobeat although Amapiano is still going I think more of Afro bounce and I am working on something like that as well.

You have worked with big names like 2baba, Tiwa Savage, Simi, Larry Gaga, who would you like to work with next?

I love Kizz Daniel a lot, he is a music genius. Wizkid and I have done some vibes together but I want us to work on more vibes. I think I would like to work with Davido, Diamond Platinumz and Tems. If I am in a studio with Tems, I am sure we will create magic. I love Ayra Starr a lot. She is amazing and her vocal is crazy.

Of all the artists you have worked with, which is your most memorable?

I think working with Peruzzi, Mayorkun, Ajebo Hustlers, Tekno and 2baba were fun. I don’t have a dull moment with them. Mayorkun is a funny guy. I always have fun when making a vibe. Music is a serious business but you don’t have to be serious when creating. 

What’s the favourite song or beat you have produced so far?

Mauriello and God Forbid by Peruzzi. When we made Mauriello and God forbid, the snippets went viral. I love the records. Those beats were dear to me. When I made the beat, I said either Peruzzi or TuFace will jump on it. If you listen to God forbid you will hear 2baba. You will know it’s his vibe. I think I like the one I did for Tekno – Neighbour. I don’t know how I created the beat but I can’t recreate that vibe. The swing was crazy.

Some producers are making the switch to full-time artists, do you see that happening for you at some point?

You know what you love cannot leave you. The more I see producers doing it now, I believe I can still sing. I still have it in me. I am still thinking of going back to the signing thing soon or later. Usually, we start with singing before production so I think the love and zeal are still there. Sometimes in the studio, I sing melodies then give them to L.A.X to work on them. Like Go Low, I sang most of it then I told him to listen to it that we have a hit. At first, he wasn’t sure then he recorded it and worked on it more and it came out nice so I feel I still have it in me.

You are dropping a project soon. Tell me about it. What should we expect and who are we looking forward to on this project?

I am trying to create a great EP of 5 songs. I have been planning on putting out a project since last year but the reason I haven’t is that I am not yet satisfied with the vibe I have at the moment. Every day you create new things and decide you don’t like a vibe. Most of these happen to artists as well. I have lots of vibes but I am thinking I have to do more and it’s delaying the project. Hopefully, this year I am planning on putting out a project this year but I want to start with a single first, let me see how the love goes. Ajebo Hustlers and I have been working lately, we have some crazy songs together. I am also working with Afro B and Falz. Peruzzi and L.A.X will definitely be on the project. I am also trying to get Ayra Starr and Lojay on the project. Lojay and I have created some crazy vibes together. It’s not a collaboration, it might be a song because I want to start putting out singles. I might drop something with Ajebo Hustlers next month either April 1st or April 8th. Expect classic vibes and bangers.

Nigerian artists are on a roll lately with Ckay constantly breaking global records, what do you think about the future of Afrobeats?

This generation is creating great songs and they are about to take it to a whole new level. The likes of Fireboy, Rema, Ckay and Oxlade are doing great jobs. They are singing and putting lots of work into their songs which is a good way for Afrobeats to come in the nearest future. So, I think Afrobeats is in good hands.

What’s next after this project?

I don’t know what is next but I know something will definitely pop out. Just have to keep working, moving and praying something pops out. Sometimes you can’t plan some things, you just have to let the vibe flow.