Nigerian multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter and composer, Emmanuel Bez Idakula, known as Bez has spoken about his career, life, revealing the lessons fatherhood has taught him. In an interview with Sunday Punch, he disclosed:
Looking back, are you satisfied about your trajectory in the music industry?
I am because I am grateful for where I am, I realize many people want to be in my shoes but do not have the opportunity to be here, so for what I have achieved and how successful my career has been, I am truly grateful.
Of course there have been mistakes and hiccups along the way, but that has been part of my journey. I am wiser, smarter and better because of those challenges, and my journey is really just starting compared to what my vision for my career is.
What were the challenges you experienced when you started out?
I remember when I moved to Lagos from the north to chase after my dreams. It was a different ball game. I had to quickly learn how to navigate my way through town with bikes and the yellow buses. I was not earning much so the little I got from my NYSC would sustain me till the next pay cheque.
My challenges were many, I needed a place of my own but I could not afford it, so I lived with people for about three years. I had no clue how to record in a studio so I would just create music on my guitar and hope to remember.
I needed paying gigs, but I had to be known, I couldn’t afford a producer so I would pray and hope someone found my music interesting enough to help me out.
Eventually with my persistence and of course the grace of God I connected with amazing people and the journey took off, but even then, I realized that the natural path to success was never straightforward. Challenges are a part of it all.
What is your take on the acceptance of alternative music in Nigeria?
I always say it has always been accepted, the media is just catching up to it. In 2007 we started an open mic night called ‘Taruwa’, and artistes would play music, share poetry, spoken word and other forms of art. It was interesting to see people come every two weeks to enjoy another form of entertainment apart from the regular mainstream music.
It showed me that there was a market ready to consume alternative music; people were not just producing a lot of it. Now with our proven success through the years, other alternative musicians have been encouraged to create great music and put it out there to the world.
The internet has also helped to bypass radio and give people what they want when they want it. This has been the eye opener, alternative music has had a huge following, the media is just catching up.
What would you regard as the greatest price paid for your music career?
I wouldn’t say there was a great price paid. This is what I have loved from when I can remember. My personality goes with what I do and what I create, therefore I have lived my life simply, without regrets and constantly grateful for the lifestyle that I have because I chose this career path.
Yes there were some sacrifices along the way, the sleepless nights, the constant investments, the almost non- existent social life at some point, being away from family, and so much more, but all these have been a very crucial part of my journey and not really a price to pay.
How supportive has your wife been to your music career and how supportive are you of her initiatives?
My wife calls herself my biggest fan! She is truly really supportive of everything I do. I remember when we were planning Bez Live and we didn’t have sponsors in the weeks leading to it, we had to use our savings and resources. She kept on saying ‘’just keep going, something great will come through’’.
Well, of course we got sponsorships and she ended up being my project manager for the concert series, and it has been amazing! She also always pushes me to create more and is super honest with her opinions.
I also fully support her initiatives. We see ourselves as partners and it is really our career, our initiatives, so we have no choice but to support what is ours.
What lessons has fatherhood taught you?
Interestingly, fatherhood has taught me more about life than anything. When my first child came, I felt like an outdated version of him, and my driving force changed. I became more unselfish and started to find ways to make life great for him.
This of course made me think about my country and what I could do to make it better. I became more conscious about my purpose and how leaving a legacy and a good name is way greater than just being wealthy. I realized that if I had thought like this my entire life, and if everyone thinks like this, we will have a better world.
It has also taught me to live life to the fullest, be vulnerable and enjoy the moment.