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Hanging Out With Ari

Wednesday January 18 2012    |     Views: 4179    |     Comments: 82   |     Print    Bookmark and Share

Follow Ari on Twitter: @Ari_9ja
Follow Ari on Twitter: @Ari_9ja

Who is Ari and what inspires him to do music?
Ari is just your everyday guy. Born Adeleye Adepoju Olufemi to a family of four here in Lasgidi, he hails from Omu Ijebu in Ogun State and spent most his childhood in Sagamu in Ogun State. He schooled at the prestigious Mayflower Junior School and Senior School, then went off to Olabisi Onabanjo University to study Medicine.
Music has always been a part of my life since I was a little boy. I was always singing along to all jingles on TV and radio, as I was told. It always lit me up whenever I sang. My choice to pursue music was born out of a combination of a strong desire and popular demand. It just struck me that I have it, and I love it, so why not just do it.

How did you come by the name Ari?
Picked out of a book, Ari which means “the best” in Hindi. Six years ago when I had just done my first solo recording, I needed a name change. I used to call myself Peejhay, which I got from my second name “Poju”(Adepoju). But something was just not right about it, plus that name was so not unique. So I researched a book of names and “Ari” just stood out: simple, classy, and deep. And I guess it suits my style of music, my image.

What did you do before music and when did you start making music?
Before music I was still an unborn baby. (Laughs) But seriously, before I decided to take on music as a progression, I was already in medical school, in 400Level. At the time, I had been singing in every choir I was opportune to have watched from the audience; from Junior Choir, Chapel of Victory Inc. Sagamu, to Streams of Life Minstrels (SOLM), Redeemed Xtian Fellowship OSU. I was also a member of ROC (Rhythm of Covenant), the Redeemed Fellowship Choir at the teaching hospital in Sagamu, a lead vocalist and tenor leader. I also belonged to an acapella group (which you’ll be knowing in 2012). Oh we made a huge impact musically! All this time I was buried in a whole lot of medical stuff also.

How easy has it been being a medical student doing music?
As a medical student, it was pretty challenging having to combine mainstream music and my academics, with both getting in the way of each other as I wasn’t an exceptional student; I usually just did enough to get me through to the next level. I had to cancel many events and interviews because I had to study for exams or had to be in class. Then of course there was the issue of victimization from some lecturers who feel you are unserious and thus deserve to fail. It was horrible, but I found succour in my music. Whenever I was down I’d just play music and sing along or pick my guitar and write a song. Music got me through the tough times as a medical student.

Which musicians did you look up to as role models while growing up?
Well, mostly international artistes: R.Kelly, Michael Jackson, Boys II Men, a whole lot of boy band groups like Backstreet, NSYNC, Boyzone, Westlife. Then, of course, influence from dad, Ebenezer Obey, King Sunny Ade, Shina Peters, just to name a few. I guess I just loved to listen to them, learn their songs and sing along.

What sets you apart from other artistes? How is your music different?
Hmmmm... I do a fusion of RnB & Soul, of course with a Naija touch for the market. Though that’s a lot more recent, the Naija part. My uniqueness comes from a few strengths I have. I’m a reflective person so I like to make sense in my music, talking about my lyrical content. Then, there’s the vocal texture which a lot of people tell me is different, and then I do a unique style of RnB/Soul. My songs always rise to a climax. I can’t really explain the last part because I don’t know how I do it; you’d have to listen to understand. I really try not to sound like anyone, though you may pick a little R.Kelly in my music as I listen to him a lot.

Who would you say has been most influential to you in your music career?
R.Kelly! It’s so bad that in all d choirs I have sang, I always take any solos by R.Kelly. He’s my boss. (Laughs) He’s not my sole influence though, as I said before I just love to listen to good music. So one way or another I have been influenced by a wide array of artistes, local and international, and I love Asa.

Your song Chacha Naija got a lot of airplay in the past year. How do you plan to elevate your other songs beyond this level?
Well, I thank God for the success of Chacha Naija, because I don’t take credit for that song: it was divine. And trust when I say, that song hasn’t even fulfilled it’s purpose.
I guess I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing, making good music by his grace, and also doing a lot of listening. We all know that success is divine, so all I can and will do, is my best. Keep improving, keep evolving and staying focused.

What are the greatest challenges you’ve encountered as a musician?
Number one challenge is finance. Fun as it is doing what I love, it costs a fortune making good music. And I believe whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing well. So funding is my greatest challenge. Also there was the issue of balancing music and medicine. That has reduced a lot, now that I am a doctor and no longer a student. But generally my challenge has to do with breaking out big, hitting the mainstream massive like the likes of Tu Baba, PSquare, Dbanj, Don Jazzy, Asa. So I keep planning, praying and working hard.

How profitable has music been to you so far?
Well, let me just say that it’s the passion that is solely fuelling the music pursuit. It has been a very bumpy ride, but then again music had never had my full attention so, I guess I got what I gave. I’m still optimistic because I’m sure this is it and I’m ready to give my all now. With my new team, we are rebranding Ari and coming on strong this new year. So watch out for the new me.

Do you have any plans for an album?
Yeah of course! My album is actually complete though some songs are still in black and white. But it is definitely dropping in 2012. So watch out. I have a couple of other singles out though: Champion’s Anthem, Together As One, Jo Ragga and another hot new single drops in January. U can hit me on my facebook page www.Facebook.com/ari9ja and see the download links. Just download and enjoy.

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