Mom will kill me if I decide not to get married –Waje
Waje Iruobe has been in the music industry for some time. Her voice added more spice to P Square's Do Me, but not many people know that the pretty girl is the face behind the voice in that track. She tells 'Nonye Ben-Nwankwo why she wasn't given credit in the album
Why do you find it easy to play live music when those more experienced than you still need the
services of a DJ before they can perform on stage?I believe that you can't really appreciate music until you hear it live. As an entertainer, you are given the liberty to express yourself at will. If you are using the CD, you are confined to one spot. People come to watch you on stage because they want to see you perform in the real essence of it. You can do whatever you like to the same music they have heard before and it will be so soft to their ears. That is basically why I do live shows.
Is it that easy?
It is not easy at all. I am still an up-and-coming artiste. I don't have an 11 or 14-man band; we are still growing. I have eight band members. But the good thing is that we are like a family. They understand me and they know where I am coming from. The first meeting we had, I told them it didn't really matter what they found themselves doing, a lot of people will not find fulfillment until they hear them do what they are doing. I believe that a lot of people will not be fulfilled until they hear me sing.
Is Waje your real name?
Yes. I am from Edo State. I shortened the name and I added an acronym to it.
You have been in the industry for a while now…
Yes. This is a country where we believe that you have to pay your dues. All that time, I guess I was paying my dues.
So when did you start music professionally?
That should be when I met P Square. I wasn't big, but I wasn't an underground chic either.
So how did you meet P Square?
It was in Enugu. I was just doing my thing before then and getting some gigs as I could. After my performance, they met me back stage and I told them I was a huge fan of theirs. They told me they enjoyed my performance. After that, I was watching one of their videos on Channel O. I decided to do a remix of that song, Omoge mi. J Martins was and still is my very good friend. So, with his help, I remixed the song and I sent it to P Square. They loved it and they put it on their Busybody 2. That was the first time anybody heard anything I had done. So when they started working on the Game Over album, they called me and asked me if I could do a song with them. Who wouldn't agree to that? Of course, I said yes and they flew me down to Lagos. I went to the studio with them and we did Do Me. It was at that point that I decided to do this professionally.
You featured in the album, and your name wasn't on the CD jacket. You were not even given any credit…
This is a touchy topic. Anyway, now, if you can google Do Me, you will see, 'P Square featuring Waje.' Initially, there was nothing like that.
So whose fault was that?
I don't really blame them. I blame my management at that time. I have worked with a couple of people now. I won't say I am still a novice in the industry. I have learnt a lot of things. What the artiste knows is just to come and sing. The people you work with are the ones who should know better and tell you what is in it for you if you are doing a 'collabo' with somebody. What I did with P Square was actually a collaboration. For me then, it was about getting a platform so that people will know this is a new girl who is fantastic when it comes to singing. When I don't get that kind of platform, the aim is defeated.
Did they feature you in the video?
Did they compensate you in anyway or pay you some money?
No. But it is really not their fault as I said. I still blame my record company and my management that I was signed to then. Apparently, the record label didn't enter into any form of agreement with them or sign anything with them.
So there was no contract?
I don't think there was.
What kind of relationship do you have with them now?
We are still good friends. I gave them my promo copy recently. They still call me once in a while and encourage me. I appreciate them because they are really one of the big artistes we have in the country; they have done so well.
Have you done any other 'collabo' since then?
Yes, I have. I was on Banky W's album. Omawumi featured me in her album as well. Recently, I did some stuff with MI in his yet to be released album. I also did something with DJ Zeez.
Have you now learnt your lessons before doing these 'collabos'?
Of course! There are certain people I would do a 'collabo' with for nothing because we share a bond and we understand each other. For me to do a 'collabo' now, and it is not based on those terms, then I give you my own terms. I am very careful now with the collaborations I do. If I do 100 'collabos' and every one of them is a hit, then I know I am an accomplished artiste. But when you feature in 100 songs and only two of those songs are hits, then you shouldn't really be bothering yourself. I have learnt my lessons and I understand the way things are done now. There are so many things you can do and at the end of the day, you are happy and the person featuring you is also happy.
When is your album coming out?
I wanted it to come out this year. It is complete. But people have been advising me against that. There are a lot of things happening at the end of the year. I have to wait a while so that it doesn't get drowned.
But your singles are out…
Yes. I have For a Minute and So Inspired. I featured Munachi Abii in the song and I love it so much. Anytime I listen to it, I get so inspired.
How did music start in the first place?
It started when I was a kid. I come from a Christian background. My mum was the headmistress of a school. We used to have camp meetings during Easter. I would always beg them to allow me to sing. I was on scholarship when I was in secondary school because I could sing. I was intelligent anyway, but what really gave me the scholarship was my voice. I always knew I would eventually end up as a singer. It was just that I didn't really know how it was going to be. So, when I went into school, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, I was in church when a guy met me and told me I had a fantastic voice and I should think of working on an album. He told me he had a record label and would want to sign me on. That was how I got signed on to Dom Records. That was the first time I had anything to do with a record label.
Were you able to release an album then?
No. There was no album. There are a lot of people that have dreams, but making those dreams come true is a big challenge. It doesn't always have to do with money, but it has to do with your strength and your hunger to achieve what you want to achieve. If you want it that bad, you will make it happen. They had dreams for me anyway. They taught me the technicalities of music that I know today. But I really don't know why we didn't bring out an album. I just ended my contact with them a few months ago. I was still signed to them when I came out with my first single. I still need their advice.
You are not with any record
No. I am not signed to anybody now. I am just doing my thing. I have a couple of offers but because of my experience, I am taking my time. It must be worth the while for me. My case is peculiar. You will not really term me an up-and-coming artiste and you will not say I am up there either. I have to find a way to balance it; whichever record label that signs me on will have to understand that. I don't want a situation where I will be signed to a label and I will sit down for seven years without releasing any album. I don't need that.
Is it going to be music for life?
I graduated as a social worker. I read Sociology and Anthropology and I intend to practise. I am going to look for a way to balance music and what I studied so that I can marry the two together. I will sing for ever, there is no doubt about that. But then, some things will still come up. I will get married and I will have kids as well. I intend to scout for talents and give these talents that opportunity to sing as well.
You have been able to avoid scandals…
Yes. It was only when they said I was always following Omawumi around. It is really sad. Omawumi is my friend. The only reason people think we follow each other around is because we are musicians. Your friend is your friend. I am close to Kel and I am close to Lami. As young women, we make sure that we are not everywhere. We don't go out as much any more. Initially, we were doing it; we got carried away with the hype of being in the entertainment industry. But you have to understand that it is not just about you. There are a lot of people whose success in life are tied to yours and it is not only because of your voice but also the way you live your life.
So you don't see Omawumi as your rival?
She is not. She appeals to a different market and I appeal to a different market. I sing R and B and that is all I do.
Are you getting set to settle down?
For now, it is not on my list. We have a lot of work to do. Eventually, it will happen, otherwise my mother will kill me.
What of your boyfriend?
I don't have any.
Seriously! People don't believe me but it is the truth.
Is it by choice or by design?
It is by design. I have not had the luxury of having a boyfriend.
Guys don't ask you out?
I don't know. My mouth is sealed. However, I am concentrating more on my music. God will certainly put things in place.
What do you hope to achieve?
It is not all about my singing. I have to give back to the society. My fans show me love and appreciation. I want to give back to them. There are certain things I am so emotional about, especially single motherhood and motherless babies. I want an opportunity to do stuff that will inspire people. I used to think I have nothing to offer. But now I know that people love me. It still baffles me.
How are your folks?
Very fine. My mother owns a school in Ajah. My father is retired now. He is also in Lagos. I come from a broken home. They both have their different lives.
Does it affect you, coming from a broken home?
No. I think I wouldn't have been a better person if I didn't have these circumstances. It was what inspired me to do what I am doing. God had a plan for me. Of course, there were times you would wish both of them were there, especially when your friends would be saying stuff about their mum and dad; you will be there looking at them. But you can't fight God over certain things. We just learn to accept them and find a way to make them positive for us to move from one step to another.
Was growing up difficult?
Very difficult. I just described myself as a blessed child. I was on scholarship. By the time I was in the university, I started doing things for myself. I was a caterer. I used to make chin chin in school and sell them. I worked in Enugu State Tourism Board as a student. I did contracts. I did a lot of things. My first salary was N1,000. I will never forget it.