Fiokee… From Star Quest to Master Guitarist – Guardian Life – The Guardian Nigeria News – Nigeria and World News
Through Chinonso Ihekire
January 22, 2022 | 3:21
If the inventors of the guitar – from Antonio Jurado, to Christian Martin, George Beauchamp, among others – were alive today, they would be bursting with smiles
If the inventors of the guitar—from Antonio Jurado, to Christian Martin, George Beauchamp, among others—were alive today, they’d be bursting with smiles, having listened to the freshly released debut of America’s most enchanting contemporary guitarist. Africa, Fiokee.
Dubbed MAN, Fiokee’s 14-track album, real name Ifiok Effianga, is a haunting piece that confirms its place in history as the first compilation soundtrack by an African guitarist with other artists. .
With over two decades of experience in the African showbiz industry, Fiokee cut his teeth as a pioneer in the instrumental music scene across Africa. Influencing the discographies of several top artists, including Dbanj, Flavor, Yemi Alade, Patoranking, Adekunle Gold, among others, Fiokee has forayed into the realm of gaming icons, blossoming as one of the sound- most progressive shapers of his generation. .
As her voice echoed through the receiver, this reporter was amazed at the lightness of Fiokee’s voice. Adding that to his endless youthful looks, it will be hard to believe that the musician has become the latest addition to the league of African artists who have crossed the 40-year mark.
Born in Akwa Ibom, Fiokee is one of those artists with a deeply inspiring story from grass to grace. After hustling for three years after high school, in a toy store in the bustling neighboring town of Ebonyi, he saved for three months, until he could buy his first guitar. With steely determination and a head full of dreams, fate became the final catalyst that paved his way to the top, as he came across a taxi driver who taught him how to play guitar every night. in a candlelit room.
Several sleepless nights playing in discos, living hand to mouth, Fiokee remained resilient, believing in her inescapable future. And his 2008 winning stint on the reality show Star Quest in Lagos became the springboard for his marathon of gaming success.
With MAN, Fiokee blurs the boundaries of instrumental music, with its soulful guitar riffs and progressive legatos, creating some of the most experimental sound compilations of recent years. From RnB-fusion to Amapiano groove, passing through Tanzanian Bongo Flava percussion, among others, Fiokee mixes a beautiful mix of talents (A-list and emerging), from Maua Sama, to Bella Shmurda, to Ladydoe, to create a seamless musical experience for his generation of listeners.
Sitting with Guardian Music, the mechanical engineering graduate discusses the inspiration behind his latest work, which pioneered the modern evolution of guitarists in Africa, becoming Fiokee, as well as its unique quirks, including abstaining from smoking and drinking alcohol.
You recently abandoned your new project. How do you feel about it and why did you choose January to drop it?
I feel good because it’s actually a big deal for me. Like being the first guitarist to release this kind of album, not only in Nigeria, but also in South America, in Portugal, in the Netherlands. I decided to release it in January as a 40th birthday present – that’s why I said the album was mine.
I’ve been in the industry, officially, for 14 years now – since 2008; this year makes it the 14th year. In 2009, I joined Dbanj on Scapegoat and took up the torch with Davido’s Gobe, Kizz Daniel’s Laye, Simisola’s album, Flavor’s album, and so many others. I feel like people grew under me from scratch; I was able to conquer that part of being the best afrobeat guitarist.
So what’s the next step? I just thought about it. It’s high time I released an album too. When is the best time to release the album? I’m already approaching 40 and I think it’s the best time, I started doing everything in January. So this year started well for me, because I had dedicated it to releasing an album for my 40th birthday, and it’s a big album for me.
You’ve influenced a lot of other people, but what has influenced your own discography so far?
Yes, the influence is that I wanted to use the list to clarify some parts. Everyone is of the opinion that you have to sign before being recognized, but I said no. So far, I’ve been able to create an industry where you appreciate great instruments; as something to imitate.
Instrumental music was predominant in the 70s, 80s and 90s…?
But Sunny Ade, Oliver de Coque- were all full-time singers. They were just doing the guitar thing besides the vocals. Mine is pure guitar, mine is different. I didn’t project myself as a singer and I’m not saying that I can’t sing. I just wanted to use the guitar. I just wanted to make sure I was using the guitar throughout, which no one was using.
Before discussing the album and what it represents, tell us when you first picked up your guitar?
Besides the fact that I like the guitar, I also like the keyboard. What needs to be said is that crayfish bend. I remember the man who taught us when I started the children’s choir – when we used to sing. We sang “so fa mi re re…” and before singing a song, we first had to translate it. We were doing this in such a way that he became a part of me.
So if I hear any song, be it Igbo or Akwa Ibom (because I’m from here), I can translate it into music. I could write the words even without learning them, and that helped me a lot. So when I finished high school, I went to my father. I became a salesman in his store where I sold, and he paid me 1,000 naira a month. I would save that money for three months and withdraw N700 to rent a guitar. Why I did this because not everyone has money to buy toys for their kids.
Sometimes all day we just sat looking sad in the store. Once I thought I knew music, so let me play just one instrument. I couldn’t get a keyboard, because it was expensive, so I went to rent a guitar for N700. It cost N8000, and I couldn’t buy it then. One day, I was coming home from the store and I saw a man coming out of a workshop and saying to me, ‘Young man, can I see your guitar?’ So he took the guitar from me and started playing. He started playing guitar in the workshop. The guy is a taxi driver who came to fix his car.
I fell in love with the way he played guitar. We started talking and he was like he was going to charge me N2600 for six months. So when I close the shop at 7 p.m., I’m going to his house. I go to work and go to his place because he was always driving from one city to another and was only free at night. So, I will go from 8 to 10 p.m. in the evening. We did this for almost two months by candlelight because there was no light.
After two months, I didn’t have the money to rent the guitar, so I started going from church to church, volunteering so I could play the guitar. After a year, I got into a lot of things, and I started playing guitar. So in 2003 I moved to Warri, and stayed there for five years. I used to travel from Warri to Port Harcourt and play in a church. I moved to Lagos in 2008 where I started off well. This has been my journey so far.
You went every night to learn the guitar, what made you continue?
I suffered while playing the guitar. The money we were given back then was just to survive. I was like, ‘would my life be like this?’ There was a time when we played at the club, from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. for three years, back to back every Saturday. Then we had about five singers and we alternated. Like you’re playing guitar and your back hurts. But I didn’t see it as if I was doing it for free. I was actually in pain and it helped me become who I am today.
So why did you call your album MAN?
I think I already explained it. I grew up; I suffered. I have been playing guitar for 22 years.
Now that you left MAN, are you working on a second album? Are you looking to do something after this or what is the plan for you in the future?
In the future, I will continue to reveal many things; I come with surprises. That album dropped this year and I’ll pick it up from there. First quarter, second quarter- another day, another body of work; you can never tell that I work.
Why did you choose the collaborations you used on the album?
The reason I decided to work with these artists is that I have a particular sound that I wanted to achieve. Even though I like big names, sometimes I always look for depth and classics in my sounds. Each track has its own message, its own style and my expertise in A&R allowed me to understand the right kind of people to associate in a particular song.
So that made it easier for me; I was able to cut through all genres of music and artists around the world. I have some artists from South America, Jean and Alex from Puerto Rico. I have one from Portugal; it’s Nelson Freitas. I have Maua Sama from Tanzania. I have Lirical from the Netherlands. I have Gyakie from Ghana. You could tell that I was trying to cross different territories. My music is so broad that I didn’t want to limit myself to a particular audience.
The album is deeply experimental, why was that?
Yes, I experimented with sound, because I am very diverse when it comes to sound. I’ve been playing with a live band for over 10 years. I played with Reggae, Makossa and RnB sounds. I just needed to create something that every audience, from highlife, to salsa, to pop, to jazz-fusion, could connect with. I like to explore and develop. I’m very happy that everyone has something in it.
Do you think instrumental music has a future in Nigeria?
The reason I do all these things is to create value for instrumentalists. The future for instrumentalists in Nigeria is already very bright. They never liked us no matter what we did. Now that I’ve been able to push the narrative into the mainstream market, the instrumental industry is open. And I get calls from young people who appreciate what I do. They tell me that people call them to play guitar on their songs more than before. People now love guitar and sax and they want them on their songs. And I can’t work with everyone, so they pay attention to the younger ones. In doing so, I create employment opportunities for others. I am grateful to God for using me to achieve this
So who do you feel in the industry?
I love the new boys – Joe Boy, Fireboy, Oxlade. I can’t wait to have one of them in my next album. I mean, these guys are fire!
Finally, tell us three things people don’t know about you.
I don’t smoke, I don’t drink and I like to swallow. I’m from Akwa Ibom and I love different kinds of soups. I like almost all kinds.