Neken Chuwang Interview
My song projects God, it projects who God is to me and the understanding of life.
My name is Neken Chuwang, I am a singer song writer, a graduate of sociology University of Jos.
What can you say about the state of music in jos?
Music in Jos is amazing in the context of sound. There are very amazing writers, singers and producers. And recently we have experienced great promoters coming up too. However I would say music is not lucrative in this part of the world.
Why did you say that?
Artistes work so hard but they are hardly appreciated. There is appreciation of hype, it comes and goes. But you could hardly see one that would tell you proudly they have made a reasonable amount of money from their albums, the singles, the videos and all that. I would say music is doing well in the sound aspect but in the lucrative aspect business wise, money wise or financially wise, I will say it is doing very poorly in Jos.
In terms of sound, you mean the music you make in Jos could compete with any other music else where.
We have artistes in jos that can compete with the best in the world right now.
How do these artistes sustain the craft, how do they sustain the business?
I think one of the things that helps artistes to succeed in this town, I mean to still make music, is the generosity of the producers, compared to Lagos, Abuja and lots of other places in Nigeria. For a start, you discover the money producers collect for producing songs is not as costly as the one people collect out there. One of the things that have kept artistes afloat to a level is the understanding and generosity of producers, they really consider the artistes while producing with the price range they give. Apart from that, the ability of the artistes to also look for one thing or the other to put their hands on to also help in bringing in income.
Can’t the music in itself sustain an act? Can’t people do music for a living in Jos?
There is real and the ideal. I will say ideally a good artist who does very good art and has content should be celebrated and should be able to live off the music. I see music bigger than just an art or a craft, music is a body of work that touches people’s lives. It is a very necessary part of life. If you are meeting a need, then there is a need for appreciation and reciprocation for what you are giving out. Ideally an artist that is good and appreciated should be able to thrive and survive from his craft. However, in the reality we found ourselves it is really difficult to find an artist right now in Jos that will tell you his music is all he survives on, and survives on it in a very comfortable state.
With the weekly events in jos, do the artists who perform at these events make money from them?
For every stage an artist is been featured on, most times people consider it as giving you a platform, so some of them would not mind you paying them to climb on that platform. I feel it is a point where value has not really been accorded to the artist. Some people don’t realize the power and the messages in the music; they don’t realize the effort that one has to put in to bring out good music. Unfortunately many of the events out here happening week in week out, most event planners don’t have allocations for artists.
Lately, Efe got popular via the Big Brother reality show. Is there any way for one to get to be in the mainstream starting from J Town where everybody regards as the home of entertainment and creativity. How does one get to be seen out there like any other popular African act? What is the way out, what is the strategy towards getting there?
Before answering this, I will like to clarify something; I am not in any way trying to be ungrateful for the support we are getting in this town, I want to state that out clear. One thing I know with Jos is that there is appreciation for arts. I feel people’s orientation needs to be shifted in the sense that the appreciation should be seen beyond oh I love your music, I downloaded your music. I feel we need to create that orientation that this artist whose music you love needs to survive, he needs to become bigger and in as much as we appreciate your love for our music on social media the hype and all that, it is very essential. However, we also should push; we should push towards enlightening people that the recordings cost money, the videos cost money and a lot of other things we do cost money. We should enlighten people that you can also support, even if it means buying a song for N50 or buying an album for whatever price there is. It is never too much. You don’t have an idea of what an artist goes through to record songs, to make the videos to put up events and all that. We need to grow the mentality of people around here, thank you for the support and everything; however these are ways you can help out. Over time once people understand it, when you put a gate fee of N500, N1000, N1500 people don’t feel they are been over charged because they have understood that these things they are doing is actually to support you and with that it could make you bigger. Many people want you to be bigger as an artist but they do not realize how they can make that a reality.
How has the internet been of help to you?
It’s been of amazing help. After God, my family, my immediate friends and colleagues, my producers, the videographers, the next set of people I will thank are my internet people. I thank God for the life of the person that invented the internet generally. The internet is a powerful tool; it’s beyond walls, beyond borders beyond landscape. It’s as far as someone can access. For my music, the internet has helped me tremendously in the sense that from first single I was able to reach out to a set of audience that I know if it was left to Bluetooth or FM it wouldn’t be possible. So the internet has helped me to reach people from different ethnic backgrounds, from different geographical locations, from different tribes, different religions. There was a project that I dropped out there that got me people from Zambia following my music, now on a normal day I would have needed a passport or something to be able to go there, go and probably play it on their radio, so the internet has helped me to break through boundaries so it’s been amazing.
What kind of music do you do?
I always like to categorize my music into two, which is Godly music and good music. My song projects God, it projects who God is to me and the understanding of life, people, culture of different circumstances that the knowledge of God has given me. God is a major component of my music. If a topic is not God glorifying and would not impact people positively then that is not my music. I am not boxed by genre or patterns of music, as far as it’s good and Godly, I love exploring sound even though I will say predominantly African sounds. But once is good and it is Godly, it is my music.
For the people who might want to check you out on the net what handles will you like to share?
You can follow me and I follow back on instagram and twitter @nekenchuwang and my facebook page is Neken Chuwang as well.