Tiwalola Oluwadara Babalola (TiwaDara) is a fast-rising music artist. He has two albums to his credit – Renegade and Jigsaw. He began his music career in 2014. Before then, he had sung to his mopstick; sang in school choir and his campus church’s choir. TiwaDara’s music is inspired by everything around him – culture, language, faith and his colleagues.
He stated that his goals as a music artist are to set new standards; put smiles on faces and make people discover emotions they never thought they had; make timeless music; and of course, make money! In this exclusive interview, TiwaDara leads us through how his journey as a music artist began; his creative process; the inspiration behind his music; his view of the Nigeria music industry and the idea behind his recent album, Jigsaw. I’m sure you would enjoy!
VUN: Talk about yourself and how you got into music?
TiwaDara: I am a singer, songwriter, mix engineer and producer. I grew up in a Christian family in Ibadan, Oyo state. I always had music around me as every other kid did, from school to church, nothing necessarily special. But then, without paying much attention to it, I was finding a type of relationship with music that wasn’t the public type. Like singing to mopsticks, giving myself stage names, listening to late night music, saving to buy a radio just to listen to music. I think this period was when the journey really started. I joined the school choir in my secondary school and recorded the anthem then. But, all these while, I never thought of getting into music, but unknown to me I was grooming myself.
My interest in music began to grow. I remember downloading FL studio (a music production software) in 2007. I basically always got interested in music.
Finally, I got to write my first song that year. I started recording melodies and wrote and that later became a lifestyle. Then, got my first guitar not long after in 2009. Wrote more songs. I wrote and arranged a song for the campus church I attended. I recorded my first song in 2014. That’s the story of how I got into music. It was a process.
VUN: At what point did you decide you were going to pursue music and what prompted it?
TiwaDara: When I realised I had something different to offer and somethings came to me in a divine form. I knew there had to be more.
VUN: What inspires your music?
TiwaDara: Everything around me inspires my music. From my culture, language, faith, colleagues. Every song I make always has a story behind them or a story I plan to tell.
VUN: Do you always end up telling the stories just the way you want or are the times you couldn’t?
TiwaDara: Well, not always.
VUN: Why the exceptions?
TiwaDara: Society and my audience. My audience is not yet fully defined so that made me want to restrict some explorations in my stories. Sometimes, you tell a story that tells the truth, but the sad truth: one that might not be as interesting as “let’s pop champagne”. That liberty to express every thought; every story and every dream is what I believe every artist desires. But, the restrictions are reducing as I keep creating.
VUN: What’s your creative process like?
TiwaDara: Sometimes, I start out making a beat and fit the melodies and words. Sometimes, I write the song first then get it produced. Then, sometimes I have the whole idea in my head. I always start with a concept; something different. It could be a beat, a story or a new melody and I build it from there.
VUN: Let’s talk about your recent album, “Jigsaw”, what’s the idea behind the title and the album generally?
TiwaDara: Jigsaw! It was subtitled pieces of me. I have been working on different vibes and genres cos I dread being put in a box. Jigsaw was then released to show versatility and different sides to TiwaDara. From soul to Afropop, trap, fuji vocals, highlife, afro house dancehall. It was really a jigsaw of sounds.
VUN: What’s your average day like?
TiwaDara: At least 10 hours in front of a computer, water, some social media and music – creating, mixing, guitar playing, or just consuming music. That’s an average day.
VUN: Which artists influence you?
TiwaDara: It’s always hard to answer this question. Almost Every artist I listen to. For example, Sigrid and Zak Abel are new young artists who have influenced me lately. I always have something to learn.
VUN: What’s the most interesting thing about being a music artist?
TiwaDara: When someone hears your music and smiles, cries or thinks. It’s everything. It’s divine.
VUN: Have you ever dealt with performance anxiety? And how do you handle that?
TiwaDara: I just make sure I play my part in preparing adequately. When I then hold the mic it all goes.
VUN: Have you gotten negative reviews and how do you react to them?
TiwaDara: *laughs* I think most people have. I have. I make sure I play my own part before putting out a song. I tend to be a perfectionist. So, when a song meets all the standards and I have no doubt in my mind, I then put it out. If I get a negative review on that, I would try considering the review if it doesn’t make sense to me, I classify such as a review based on taste and won’t let it bother me. I can then, think of considering that feedback in future if it would increase my audience or take me closer to my goals as an artist.
VUN: What are your goals as an artist?
TiwaDara: Here are a few – to set new standards; put smiles on faces and make people discover emotions they thought they never had; make timeless music, and make money! *laughs*
VUN: What’s your view of the Nigeria music industry?
TiwaDara: It’s growing and evolving. We are having more indie artist.
VUN: Which Nigeria artist(s) would you want to collaborate with and why?
TiwaDara: Falz, he is the only one coming to mind now. He is intelligent, versatile and has a broad range of topics that he talks about in his songs. But then, I’d readily collaborate with anyone, it’s art.
VUN: How do you define art BTW?
TiwaDara: Art to me is an expression of the human mind.
VUN: What advice would you give other budding artists?
TiwaDara: They should do what they love, find peace and happiness in it.
VUN: Any words for your fans?
TiwaDara: I really appreciate them. They make me want to be better at all I do. I want them to know they are important to someone and we can all become better people.