Theres a deliberate direction to where I'm headed. It is a brand and image shift. It is about perception and how people see me
By Clavia Okoli
PUBLISHED: September 06, 2023
For Fireboy, it has always been about the music and he has resolved not to stress or vex because people have lent him listening ears. He understands that putting too much of yourself out there attracts negative energies and he is not about to live that life. So he just makes music for his fans and that is what is important.
On Monday, three days to the release of his sophomore album ‘Apollo’, he tweeted” My second album Apollo. This was bound to happen. Gratitude to God for blessings. Gratitude to everyone who worked with me on my album. Gratitude to my team(YBNL/Empire), my family, and the Kings who blessed this project with their presence. See you on Thursday”
Coming off the success of his debut album ‘Laughter Tears and Goosebumps’, one of the best in recent times. It took him about nine months before he decided to bless his fans with a song and from that point, it was ‘foot on neck season’.
Three songs with accompanying visuals to them and the announcement of his sophomore album. The three singles and videos have all been met with mixed reactions. The bulk of it been ‘Why is he not sticking to the template that brought him here?’
But he tells me that he has never been the ‘rules’ guy, and with rules, he loves to shatter them. When we spoke via Zoom, there was something about him that was different, not the very ‘soft’ Fireboy we all seemed to see on social media.
His confidence was bristling, some statements were astonishing, and there was a different type of energy. Not even a smile creased his face during the length of the interview and even when he said something that made me laugh with reckless abandon, he never returned that gesture.
INARGUABLY YOU HAD ONE OF THE BIGGEST ALBUMS OF 2019, HOW HAS THE JOURNEY FROM LTG TO PRESENT-DAY BEEN?
Laughter Tears and Goosebumps have been the highlight of my career so far, a successful album, an impressive debut, and since then I have been on tour and working on my sophomore album which explains the long break I took before I released any other project.
I have just been working, it is only one album so there is more work to be done. But I’m grateful for LTG because it opened the way for me, more people discovered my sound and it introduced me to a wider audience.
THE YEAR 2020 HAS BEEN ONE HELL OF A YEAR FOR EVERYONE, DO YOU SHARE THOSE SENTIMENTS?
Apart from the fact it has messed with the music industry and every other place, it has been productive for me, I have always loved to spend time with myself, and I have made more music than normal, and spent time with my family. I mean those things mean a lot to me – My Family and Music. I’m thankful for that. But my not being able to perform for my fans has gotten to me but it is all good.
IT TOOK ABOUT 9 MONTHS FOR YOU TO MUSTER ANOTHER MUSIC RELEASE AFTER YOUR DEBUT ALBUM, WHY THAT RISK CONSIDERING HOW FANS CAN BE QUICK TO MOVE ON?
The reason was that I was working on my sophomore album. And also I wanted the album to sink in, I needed the album to marinate and do its wonders, I mean it is music, it is just me, so let the music just do its thing and let me go hide while the music works its wonders
When an album is good like that, you don’t rush it. Even now that I am ready to drop the second album, a lot of people are complaining that it is too soon but I have my reasons, I have to solidify my legacy, I have a lot of stuff to prove and for me, it is very personal.
WE ALL HAVE WITNESSED A TREMENDOUS TILT IN YOUR BRANDING. THE NEW FIREBOY WE ALL ARE SEEING IS DIFFERENT, WANT TO TALK MORE ABOUT THAT?
Everything I do is intentional, either it is a song I drop or a move I make. Because I have a team, I have a brand. It is not just about the music, it is about the branding and the personality. That is why you are an entertainer, you have to show a different side to yourself and make sure the fans are not bored while appreciating the art.
It is about time I just give them a flip side to me, every piece of art has two sides to it. You don’t expect the Fireboy of LTG to be what you see now, and as an artiste, you can’t allow yourself to be found in one box. From the cover art of the album to the songs and videos I have been dropping, it is obvious that this is a darker side to Fireboy.
HOW HAS THE FEEDBACK FROM YOUR TILT IN YOUR BRANDING BEEN?
Fault would always be found, there has always been that conversation about wanting the Old Fireboy back, but truth be told, people don’t really know what they want until you give them, it will take time, but as an artiste, Fireboy does what he wants to do and it doesn’t matter what anybody says.
WHY DO YOU DECIDE TO DROP ANOTHER ALBUM IN LESS THAN ONE YEAR AFTER YOUR DEBUT? A LOT OF CRITICS WOULD HAVE RECOMMENDED YOU PUTTING OUT MORE SINGLES.
The bottom line is as long as the music is good, I don’t think there should be rules to this thing, art is freedom. So why should there be rules to this? Why should I not be able to drop another album until after two years?
Even when I dropped LTG people were asking how many singles have these one dropped that he is dropping an album, but we have seen how that panned out. People will say, I don’t follow rules, rules are meant to be broken. And that is what I want to show people via this album, I’m not the rules type of guy, I love breaking rules, it is part of me.
THERE HAVE BEEN CONVERSATIONS ABOUT HOW YOU SHOULD HAVE RIDDEN ON THE WAVE OF YOUR CLOUT AND GIVEN MORE FEATURES, WAS IT INTENTIONAL THAT DIDN’T GET TO HEAR YOU ON ANY FEATURES TILL JUST RECENTLY WITH REMINISCE AND CRACKER MELLO?
Let me just correct something you just said, It is not clout, it is something different, Clout is like an internet thing. Like I said, Fireboy does what he wants and I have a team so whenever they say it is time to drop an album –I’m always ready!
As regards features, I just wanted to cement my sound and my brand especially before I started going on any feature run. The moment you as an artiste start with features in the early stages of your career, you can get lost and I understood this early in my career which informed my decisions to avoid features early in the game. But now I’m done past that now and I have started giving features, so everybody can be fine now.
THE THREE PRE –RELEASED SINGLES OFF ‘APOLLO’ MIGHT ALL HAVE BEEN CENTERED AROUND LOVE, BUT HAVE STILL BEEN DISTINCT AS REGARDS THE SOUND AND VISUAL AESTHETICS, WAS THAT INTENTIONAL?
There is a deliberate direction to where I’m headed. It is a brand and image shift. It is something about perception and how people see me.
I wanted to differentiate myself from the LTG Fireboy and it has shown in the artistic direction. So that’s what I wanted to let people know in advance that this is the Fireboy they would be seeing from henceforth. So basically that is it.
WHEN YOU DROPPED THE VIDEO FOR ‘NEW YORK CITY GIRL’, ALMOST EVERYONE FELT LIKE THEY DESERVED MORE. WHAT HAPPENED WITH THAT VIDEO?
Well, I dropped that song in a time where everyone was on edge, and in that time, you can’t drop a ‘gbagbagba’ song. I reckoned something cooler and laidback would have worked because the pandemic was full blown, everyone was at home and scared.
I could not even shoot a proper video for the song because of the pandemic and its restriction. That was what happened.
ACCORDING TO GREEK MYTHOLOGY, APOLLO IS THE GOD OF MUSIC, WAS THAT WHAT INSPIRED THE TITLE?
Definitely, that is what inspired the title. And when I dropped LTG, I just dropped music for my fans but the way they took it, they sort of put me on that ‘God level’ and in my head I’m like ‘is that what y’all want?’ So let’s go there.
I’m not saying I’m a god and growing up, I have always been obsessed with Greek mythology and it just fit in perfectly and it takes off the hat of ‘lover boy’ or ‘small boy’ Fireboy to where we are headed now and it is just befitting for the album.
EVOLUTION, GROWTH, LOVE AND PAIN ARE WHAT YOUR NEW ALBUM CENTERS AROUND. WHAT IS THE PERSONAL STORY BEHIND APOLLO?
Apollo is more personal than LTG because I expressed and talked about myself more, most people would say LTG was about love but this is different, the range is wider. I also narrated a couple of very personal stories. It is more about how I have evolved as an artiste and an individual. In this life, growth is important and the project is about that. Even when you listen, you can feel that Fireboy has grown, the album is about growth
THE FEATURES ON THE PROJECT ARE NOT EXACTLY STAR-STUDDED. NOT WANT PEOPLE MIGHT HAVE EXPECTED TO SEE CONSIDERING THERE WAS NO FEATURE ON THE FIRST PROJECT. WHY?
I’m the kind of person that don’t do feature just for the fun of it, I have to love the artiste and respect their sound to feature them.
The first artiste that I featured on the project, his name is D Smoke, he is a United States Rapper, I love his sound and he got street rep too. I am not the one who features an artiste because they are popping, established or young.
Everyone knows I love Wande Coal, He is my dad in this music thing, no one should be surprised he is on the project. Same with Olamide. We have lot of songs together and I just felt he should be on it. Just those features and I’m good because I feature people for the right reasons.
LET’S TALK ABOUT PRODUCTION/ENGINEERING CREDITS, THERE SEEMED TO BE A CERTAIN CONSISTENCY WITH THE SAME PEOPLE WHO YOU WORKED WITH ON LTG, ARE YOU NOT AFRAID OF CHURNING OUT A MONOTONOUS SOUND?
You said it yourself, Consistency. You have to be consistent and if you work with people and the energy is right, why not continue with them? So basically that is it
AUGUST HAS AND IS STILL ONE OF THE HEAVIEST MONTHS FOR MUSIC RELEASES; BURNA BOY, TIWA SAVAGE, ADEKUNLE GOLD, DJ CUPPY, HARRYSONGZ. ARE YOU IN ANY WAY ‘SACRED’ OF BEEN OVERWHELMED BY THE INFLUX OF ALBUM RELEASES?
Me dropping LTG when I did shows you how unbothered I can be. I have never been scared of anything in my life. Music is the ‘koko’, and I have always understood that if the music is good, people would revolve around it. I mean I dropped LTG when a lot of people dropped too, so it has always been like that. The date was set and nothing was going to shift release date.
THURSDAY IS LESS THAN 48 HOURS, WHAT IS YOUR STATE OF MIND AS YOU RELEASE APOLLO?
I’m just waiting for the album to drop so I can go back to working on my third album. There is no time. There is still going to be a third album. How many years I don use for industry? I’m still a small boy in the game. Apollo will drop and I would rest, relax and when normalcy returns, I would go back on touring and I would have two albums to work with then. Not saying there is already a third album ready, but mentally, there is a third album somewhere.
AS WE ARE APPROACHING APOLLO RELEASE DATE, WITH YOU STRAYING FROM INDUSTRY STANDARDS, ARE YOU AFRAID THAT PEOPLE MIGHT NOT ACCEPT YOU THE WAY THEY DID FOR LTG?
Man, if I was afraid, I won’t have come this far. I just make music and just drop it. And I always evolve with time, the soundscape changes and you can’t be caught slipping when it does. Yes, it might take time for people to accept the sound but eventually when the quality is good. They will come around.
And it is very important that for artiste, they always find reasons not to be afraid.