We caught up with the amazing Nigerian soul singer and songwriter Maka, this Lagosian act blends eclectic vibes from Soul, Hip Hop, Jazz and Rap and daringly so works out some awesome music. The lawyer is also the brains behind the growing Maka: After Dark’, or just ‘M:ad’, where she keeps her art flame burning in an exclusive intimate setting performing to her fans, and the tender soul experiences brought by other guest artists. The singer recently released a striking yet delicate to the ear ‘CTRL+M’ a project inspired by American singer SZA and fashioned by acoustic soundscapes, a project to grace your ear and ‘With You’ a track where she worked with DJ Babus and offers a rather different vibe but original to her offering.
“My musical journey so far, I think has been like any other, filled with ups and downs. Laughter one day, tears the next. One thing for sure is, everything that has happened or will happen to me are all to prepare for the bigger picture”
We spoke to the talented musician who shared a lot on her musical experiences, Nigerian to African urban music scene and a bit on her inspirations.
Afroway: Hey Maka, how are you doing?
Maka: I am doing very well. Thank you.
Afroway: First off we gotta say, we’ve been looking forward to this for a while, thanks for taking time, Tell us about Maka, the person and the artist…
Maka: Oh yeah? That’s cool. OK then, for a while now, I think Maka – the person and the artist have become one person. Lol. I will try to differentiate anyway. Maka -the person is an only daughter with two brothers. She studied Law and got called to the Nigerian Bar in 2014, worked as a lawyer for about 2 years and then left it to be a full time musician. Which brings me to Maka the artist. She’s a singer, songwriter, and loves to be her own kind of person.
Afroway: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your music?
Maka: I grew up in Lagos, Nigeria specifically in Yaba. I’m from a middle class family. I guess it influenced my music content wise. I sing about what I know.
Afroway: You are getting great traction and of course your music having great reception beyond…talk to us about your musical journey and your relationship with law…
Maka: Oh yeah, thanks. I work hard. Lol. My musical journey so far, I think has been like any other, filled with ups and downs. Laughter one day, tears the next. One thing for sure is, everything that has happened or will happen to me are all to prepare for the bigger picture. I started up singing as an undergraduate, till I met Blackmagic and later on, Jesse Jagz and started I became a backup singer at that phase of my life. I stopped cos I had to go to focus on my final year and then Law School. I got called to Bar, worked for a bit and decided I wanted to music full time. That’s what I am doing now.
Afroway: Before we get further, talk to us about Felabration2018 and your experiences around that..
Maka: Felabration is always a really cool experience for me. Usually, I perform under very intimate settings. Felabration has a crowd of probably 2000 people and it’s just a really cool feeling to perform to them.
Afroway: A few days ago you put together CTRL+M, a project that was inspired by American singer SZA, talk us through the creative process and how it was like putting the project together.
Maka: I like that you did your research and are asking these really cool questions though. OK, so…I never really jumped on the Sza train when I heard about her the first time. She grew and grew in the industry that it was kinda hard to ignore her, so I started listening and my!…was I blown away. When I listened to CTRL the first time last year, I knew I was inspired. This yeah, I was really pushed in my spirit to release a body of work. I didn’t even think twice, I downloaded a few instrumentals off CTRL, but I knew I wantedto put my spin on it so I looked for acoustic versions of the ones I had chosen which led me to Just Acoustic’s account. He’s a UK based producer. I sent him a message and from there, I downloaded the acoustic versions of what I needed. I didn’t find the acoustic version of a particular song so I got a remake from an American producer, Whonickt. It took me a few hours to write all 6 songs. I reached out to Bigfoot- he’s a Lagos based producer and someone I often work with- it took me just one night session with Bigfoot to record the EP. Only 5 songs made the cut though.
Afroway: Ooh my, ‘Go Baby’… that tune stirs up a soul so nice and smooth, and the acoustic ‘Bad Enough’ did you have any hesitation creating these songs? Tell us about that.
Maka: Thank you! I feel like my previous answer just answered this question. Lol. I really didn’t have any hesitation in writing these songs. I listened to the instrumentals and their melodies spoke to me, telling me what topic to sing about and all that. It really was a very smooth songwriting process.
Afroway: You also have a song with DJ Babus ‘With You’ an awesome piece of work, what inspired the track, quite a different sound…
Maka: Definitely DJ Babus reached out to me at a time when I was kinda ready to experiment, sound wise, especially with house music. Again, the instrumental inspired my writing. I’ll tell you a little secret. When producers send me instrumentals, they make the job half easy for me because these instrumentals always speak to me. They tell me what to write. It sounds corny, I know, but it is what it is. Lol
Afroway: Haha let’s take it back to you reflecting on Your EP ‘The Truth’, what do you remember most about creating this project?
Maka: Ah ‘The Truth’. I could never forget her. Lol. I remember walking into the studio with Teckzilla -another Lagos based producer I work with and producer of ‘The Truth’. He played me the instrumental for track 3, #FMH. I remember being blown away and I started writing that instant. Before I knew it, I asked if he could play me more so we could just turn it into a body of work. Voila! The Truth EP was conceived that day! A few days later, we finished recording and the ‘The Truth’ EP was born!
Afroway: What is your view of the alternative urban music in Nigeria and how is it influencing other genres?
Maka: I think the alternative music scene is a community unto itself. Everyone does their thing exactly how they want it, the fans love what and who they love. It’s really about the art. It has become a lifestyle over here. Lol.
Afroway: Talk to us about “After Dark” and the impact it has had so far
Maka: It’s actually ‘Maka: After Dark’, or just ‘M:ad’ for short. I started getting a lotta traction and I just wanted to bring my fans closer so I could relate with them on a more intimate level. I have made new fans through ‘M:ad’ and I grateful for the growth so far.
Afroway: Why choose intimate sessions to reach out to your fans aside from attracting ‘just the right crowd’?
Maka: I thought the right crowd would be reached through the intimate sessions. It’s been working so far. There’s something about exclusivity.
Afroway: Would you recommend new artists to go independent or aim for a major label deal?
Maka: Honestly, whatever works yo. I think everyone who wants to be successful in business needs to start from the bottom and work all the way up. You gotta learn to work with/for people. That’s what a label teaches you.
Afroway: With everything that has happened with your career so far, what are you most proud of?
Maka: Hmmm…I started a band called One Band Like That, or OBLT for short. We are a little over a year now. I am so proud of where we are right now and how much we have grown. They perform with me almost every show I’m at and it’s just amazing to do that with friends.
Afroway: Finally what is your favorite hangout spot in Lagos? And don’t say studio haha…
Maka: Lol…as anti-social as this may sound, my favorite hangout spot is my room with Netflix. I don’t get to be there as often as I would, based on schedule. So when I can, I cherish every moment. Number 2 would probably be a nice bar with music I like cos I do like to dance.
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