Having discovered that he had a passion for rap at a rather young age, Efa’s exceptional talent is definitely one to look out for in the music industry.
Efa Iwara, is a prolific rapper, hip-hop enthusiast and actor who was born in the ancient city of Ibadan, Oyo State. Efa lost his sister in 2007 resulting to a step back in his career as he mourned over the great loss. The ‘Over You’ singer has since moved on from the hurt as he opens up to FAB in an exclusive and interesting interview.
FAB: Please take us through your music journey right from the very beginning on how it all started with music
I’ll start by saying that I never EVER imagined being a musician. Surprisingly everyone in my family was into music and was in a choir at one point in time (including me) but I started attempting to put rhymes together at the age of 9 as a result of sibling rivalry with my older brother who was a budding artiste at the time. But as soon as I started I couldn’t stop for long. And it was just a hobby even when my friends and I formed the group X-Factor. But after several recordings, relocating to Lagos and shooting videos, I believe its a career now. And its a choice I do not regret making.
FAB: Looking back at your early childhood, what was your first experience with music like?
It was horrible! All thanks to my darling brother. I thought it would be easy and I still recall how excited I felt writing my first rap verse. I remember the look on his face and his laugh he bellowed out while I recited the verse. It was a scarring experience. I didn’t write another verse for about six years. But the funny thing is he was actually more supportive when he heard me reciting my second verse six years later. My music got better or God touched his heart (laughs).
FAB: How would you describe your music?
I would say my music is very eclectic. And this is because each and every song is different and borrows different elements from different genres of music.
FAB: You teamed up with two other friends to form the X-Factor group back in your uni days…Why did the group split?
The funny thing is we were actually five all together. It comprised of DJ Klem, EYME, Jide, Boye and myself. We had a great time and I thing we made great music. I still think we were a boy band. (laughs) But alas everyone had different plans and different ideas on the kind of music we should be making as a unit and the group broke up. We all remain great friends and help each other out anyway that we can. I think one day I’ll release one of the songs we did back then just for fun.
FAB: What has been your biggest challenge in music?
I will have to say getting signed to a record label. And not just any record label, but one that actually has your interests at heart. It really wasn’t easy for me to find one that I could trust. And the “big” labels at the time were not interested in signing an all english rap head who grew up and was based in Ibadan. But my brother (ironically the same one who used to laugh) directed me to his friend Blaise and she in turn hooked me up with Bayo Omisore of Jus’ Kiddin’ records and the rest is history.
FAB: As a songwriter where do you draw your inspiration from when you write songs?
100 percent of the time from life and 90 percent of the time from personal experiences. Its easier to write about things I go through or people around me go through and express it via my music. And I have realised that it is a lot easier that way, for example imagine if you were bullied as a child and decided to write a song about oppression, it would be too easy and will be authentic.
FAB: You lost your sister in 2007 and it must have affected your career a bit, kindly share with us how you were able to deal with the hurt and grief
It is something I don’t talk about. It did put my career on pause and the family will never be the same. We all miss her and think about her everyday, but God knows best.
FAB: Tell us about your most embarrassing moment(s), on-stage or off-stage
You want to reduce my groom price abi? Let me restrict it to on-stage. It will have to be the day I had a performance at the Galleria. I think it was the second time I was to perform in Lagos since I relocated from Ibadan. To cut the long story short, I got on stage and my CD didn’t play and I was in shock. People booed and laughed at me. While I was wallowing in self pity backstage, 2face who was billed to perform said some pretty inspiring words to me and that made me burn another CD, get back on the stage and I gave it another shot and this time things were a lot better. So it is kind of weird how within an hour I had one of my most embarrassing moments and one of my proudest moments on stage.
I don’t think I have really experienced the negative side of publicity in the past. Maybe a few side comments on social media or blogs. But I have come to realise that its all part of what I do so I don’t pay too much attention to it.
FAB: Do you have other interests or talents you would like to share with us?
I played cricket for my University, that the University of Ibadan. We won some competitions and I wasn’t too shabby with the bat. I currently play for a club in the second division Ibadan Metropolitan Cricket Club (IMCC) when I am free during the weekends.
FAB: Gives us some info about your love life, are you in any relationship?
If I was, I wouldn’t say. And if I wasn’t, I still wouldn’t say.
FAB: Any celebrity secret admirers or crushes?
I wish! But all the crushes I have ever had have been on regular day to day people. Maybe it is because I can see them in their natural elements but celebrities kind of seem camera ready most of the time.
FAB: What’s the most trouble you’ve ever gotten into?
Too many to pick from. I have always been pretty reserved, but when I enter trouble, I enter! Since I suspect my folks will be reading this article, I will just say I can’t remember. (Laughs)
FAB: How was your collaboration with Praiz like in ‘Over You’ especially working with Seyi Shay as the video vixen?
Its hard too explain really. I had been planning this song with Praiz for a long while but we just couldn’t find the right instrumental or topic. I was going through a heart break and went to see my friend/producer Bigfoot and when I heard the instrumental he was working on I just called Praiz. Before he got to the studio I had recorded my rap. He heard like the first 10 seconds of the song and wrote his part in about 10 minutes. He dropped his vocals one time. I suspect he was going through something as well at the time, he would probably say otherwise. But it didn’t take a long time to make and it was almost effortless. Like I said, when speaking from experience its a lot easier. The Lovely Seyi Sha It all started the very first time I met her. I thought she looked like an angel and I told her I thought she was amazing. And lo and behold when my manager asked who should play my love interest in the video I had only one name on my lips. She was fun to work with and I had a great time. Maybe we should do a remix and shoot again. All my wishful thinking. *sigh*
FAB: What are the three things you can’t live without?
My phone (for communication,music and my mobile bible), deodorant (for obvious reasons), and toothpaste.
FAB: What are you currently working on now?
Right now I am working on lots of new music, a project called TWC (you shall understand what that is all about in due time) and basically touring with Naeto C since I am a part of the WKG family now.
Beyonce’s ‘Jealous’, Jay-Z’s ‘Holy Grail’, Drake’s ‘Successful’, Hans Zimmer’s ‘Inception OST’, and Cold Play’s ‘Fix you’.
FAB: Who are your local & foreign role models in the industry?
I love Naeto C, MI, Dbanj, Don Jazzy and 2face while for the foreign scene Cold Play, Hans Zimmer, Jay-z and Drake.
FAB: What differs Efa from every other artist out there?
I think everyone naturally is unique the problem starts when you try to be like someone else. I’m just trying to be the best version of me possible. And I think by just doing that I stand out effortlessly because there can’t be 2 EFAs.
FAB: How do you like to relax other than music?
By watching the greatest football team ever and that is Arsenal FC. Even though recently they have been trying to raise my blood pressure. Playing sports, watching movies and basically hanging out with friends.
FAB: Please describe the Efa sense of style
In one word, I’ll say comfortable. I’m a sneakers, jeans and t-shirt kinda guy. But you can catch me in a suit if the occasion demands it.
FAB: How would you like to be remembered by everyone for your music?
I would like to be remembered as the guy who followed his dreams regardless of what anyone else thought and hope to have inspired people not just through the music but as a person.
‘Over You’ Efa ft Praiz
‘Open and Close’ Efa ft Dammy Krane