How did you end up doing music?
I started singing at the age of 12. I started off in church choir and as a songwriter. I later joined a band. The band later split-up but I continued to push myself within the entertainment industry by picking up different roles such as hosting events, performing at carnivals, weddings, birthday parties, talent shows and the likes. I took a hiatus from performing music but as fate would have it, in 2011, I got a chance to write a song for an underground gospel singer. The song was a hit and this took me back to making music professionally.
I am fortunate to have a dad who loves music so I basically grew up listening to some amazing records from my dad’s collections, which in turn influenced my writing and musical orientations. i grew up listening to the likes of Kenny Rodgers, The Commodores, Boney M, Marvin Gaye, Bright Chimezie, Fela Kuti and a host of others. My music today is influenced by the likes of Bob Marley, Lionel Richie, Jay Z, Tracy Chapman, Black Eyed Peas, Sade Adu, to the likes of Flavour, Femi Kuti, Chief Osita Osadebe, 2Face and Banky W, to name a few.
I grew up in Aguda, Surulere with my parents and eight siblings. Being from a large family, resources were tight but we always had enough to get by. Growing up till date, we have always known that there is enough love to go around and so we have always been a tight knit family. We grew up loving music as we woke up to loud music almost everyday. My dad would always allow us to bring out his sound system on New Years Eve and we will blast all the best music, which was our informal invitation to all our neighbours to come to our compound and join the party. In summary, I am from a big family that loves music from my dad to my eldest brother (who is a music director, a singer and a drummer) to my younger brothers who are dancers. So I guess I could say that music has always been a part of me.
How has your musical journey fared so far?
It has been a challenging one. I currently work as a Business Development Executive and this finances the music. Oftentimes, when I have a performance, I will have to rush from work to go for sound checks then rush back home to get ready and journey back for my performance only to get home at five am with my duty starting again at nine. Nevertheless, because I love music and my job, it helps and I have learnt how to balance both. With determination, everything is possible.
Have you had any regrets?
None whatsoever. Since I started making music professionally, I have had the opportunity to perform in Dubai alongside Davido, D’banj, Ice Prince, Sauti Sol, Mi Casa, Mr. May D, and Patoranking. I have also performed as a guest in the Abu Dhabi Formula 1, Fan Zone. I have recorded over 25 songs and have 4 professionally shot music videos to show for it.
What’s your take of the Nigerian music industry?
The industry is tough, competitive and challenging to break into, especially for an indie artist like myself. Having said that, I can say we have come a long way. Our industry has grown significantly. I am fortunate to have travelled to a few countries and I can assure you it is almost impossible to walk into any club without hearing music from Nigeria. We have done a great job and that’s why you will find the likes of Drake, Kanye West, Jay Z, Rick Ross and many more wanting to work with us and copying our style of music.
Do you think government has created enough opportunities for the creative industry?
There is always room for improvement. Growth is essential in everything we do in life. That’s the only way we can stay relevant as opposed to being in one place. We need more carnivals/festivals linked to Afro Beats and local art, which will attract more international attention thus bringing more tourists to Nigeria.
Have you had any collaboration?
To date I have had collaborations with my fellow indie and upcoming artists who are featured in some of the upcoming singles that I will be releasing in the near future.
What does the future hold in terms of your music?
I have a new single, Good Lovin’, which is starting to gain momentum and which I am currently promoting. In addition, I have already lined up a couple more singles and collaborations to be released later this year and the beginning of next year. I don’t believe in blowing my own trumpet but I believe in my work therefore, I have no doubt that MKO’s future is bright.
What will you want to be
I run a Dubai based social event platform called Art Fusion Night. I created this platform to support up and coming creativeacts ranging from musicians, fashion designers, painters and others. The idea behind the platform was to help build up talents by providing an opportunity for them to showcase themselves on a big stage; the same way someone else gave me my first shot. I want their voices through art, song, clothes, to be heard which in turn would build up their confidence and believe in themselves. So besides being hopefully remembered for making good music, I would love to be remembered for providing opportunities, encouragement and building other creative up.
What’s the story behind your name?
Nigerians usually assume it has connections to the late politician. However, MKO is simply my initials for Maduabuchi Kingsley Okpor.
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