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Interview With TeeJay

By Bisoye Babalola
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Recently I had the opportunity to interview Afrobeats newcomer TeeJay about his music, inspirations, hobbies and his rise to fame. He also gave me an insight to his background and his we touched on his new song Work ft Lola Rae.

Could you please introduce yourself for all your fans? (Explain a little bit about yourself- name, nick name, brief life background)

Hi, my full names Tariq Olatunji Sareva. I guess my nickname would be TeeJay the same as my stage name as that's what everyone calls me. I was born in Nigeria and moved to UK when I was very young. I've always loved music but didn't seriously look at it as a career choice until about 3 years ago. Afrobeats have always been a predominant part of my musical journey so it only made sense to make what I loved. My best friend started managing me and the rest, as they say is history.

Where are you based and what country do you come from?

My father is Nigerian and Tanzanian and my mother is English. I'm currently based in UK but i'm planning to go back to Nigeria very soon.

How would you describe your music in 4 words?
Different, relevant, fresh and personal.
What made you want to get into music?
It was instinctive for me. My granddad played a lot of instruments and he used for perform to me and my siblings when we were young. Also, almost everyone I know has tried doing music at least once in their life. Some continued and some didn't. I loved everything about music from day one: the singing, the mixing, the producing, so it was natural for me to carry on with it. I never studied it so I work twice as hard to learn any small thing. It intrigued me that 1 small change could change the feel of a whole song. After I got serious with it, I became better everyday and my love for it grew. I can spend 10 hours straight recording or mixing and not even notice it.

I've heard that you sing, do you rap at all or just strictly singing?

I sing, rap, write, produce, mix and master.
What songs, albums or mix tapes can we expect to hear from you this year?

There's going to be a lot. I'm going to release another video this easter which is going to be a big one. Also, at least another song between now and then. As for the rest of the year everyone will have to wait to see. I have probably enough music to fill 3-4 albums but we're just trying to make sure the consistency is correct.

What songs, albums or mix tapes can we expect to hear from you this year?

There's going to be a lot. I'm going to release another video this easter which is going to be a big one. Also, at least another song between now and then. As for the rest of the year everyone will have to wait to see. I have probably enough music to fill 3-4 albums but we're just trying to make sure the consistency is correct.

Will any of these tracks feature other musicians?

I have quite a few features. Some very talented and known artists but I don't want to give too much away. I have some very talented producers i've worked with too.

Who in your opinion are the top 5 best singers/rappers in Afrobeats and why?

Wizkid for his work ethic, raw talent and consistency, Davido for almost the exact same thing and his ability to make any song work to his advantage, Lola Rae for her song-writing, tone, and range, Burna boy for his diversity, delivery and existing hits and my friend and fellow LVL artist DayGee for his raw talent, song writing and natural feel for music. I'm in the studio with him a lot so i've had the pleasure of seeing how quick and effectively he works. 5 isn't a lot though so it's a tough choice. I listen to so many afrobeat artists it's hard to choose.

Musically who inspires you? (Not necessarily an African Artist)

The main artist has always been Michael Jackson, He was the full package and the first artist I really listened to. Obviously there's Fela, the people I mentioned above, Kofi Olomide, Beyonce, Whitney Houston, Sarkodie, Tiwa Savage, 2Pac, Justin Bieber BOJ, Olamide and there's people who produce as well, such as BenjiFlow, P2J, Ryan Leslie, Will.I.Am, Sarz, Del-B & Maleek Berry. All of these people inspire me in certain ways.

In 10 years time what do you see yourself doing, in relation to your music?

I want to be successful and more of a tutor to up and coming artists. My goal is to become a business man as I have so many things I want to accomplish. Ideally I would still sing and produce but would be able to help other artists a lot.

When your not in the studio what are you usually up to?

If it's a rare occasion i'm not making music then i'm probably drawing. I do portraits and design comics like manga and things like that. I've done about 5 or 6 different ones but never had time to finish one. My portraits are on my instagram if you're interested in seeing them.

A lot of musicians after being in the music industry for a while they go on to act, develop clothing lines etc is that something you have ever considered?

I used to dabble acting a bit when I was younger. I was actually in a play with Desmond Elliot last year which was really fun so I guess acting could be a natural step. I do enjoy it. Clothing lines are a bit harder to decide on. But as I said I draw and I also do a lot of design work so it might be possible. However, what I would really want to do is voice act (cartoons and things similar) and publish some of my comics. They're all original ideas and drawing was my first love so it would make sense.

What's one of your most embarrassing moments? Explain what happened

I've been pretty lucky, I haven't had many. The most recent one was on my way to university. It was cold and icy and after I crossed the road I almost slipped and spent maybe 10 seconds ice skating on the path trying to keep my balance without any sides to grab on to. As if that wasn't bad enough there were about 30 students behind me on their way to class that couldn't hold in their laughter. I started walking a different route after that.

What would you like your fans to remember about you from this interview?

That I'm a normal down-to-earth person with a dream like them.

TeeJay's new song Work ft Lola Rae is currently out and available to download, watch out for the video.

As always let me know your thoughts on my interview with TeeJay on Twitter @Bisoye_