• TurnTable Exclusive: Interview with Tempoe as He Talks About Making Ckay's Love Nwantiti, Joeboy's Alcohol & More

Written by: Ayomide , Oriowo

TTC chats with Tempoe as he talks about creating some of the biggest songs of 2021 and more

I have just listened to the fourth song produced by one of the hottest producers in the country, on the the playlist of hottest songs on streaming chart. It is my style to listen to music by the artiste/producer I'm about to interview as a way of preparing myself - in situations like this, I don't listen just to enjoy the music but to connect better and understand the creator's intent with each record. This time around, I'm listening to music produced by Tempoe.

Truth be told, I find myself enjoying the music more than I should (this is supposed to be an exercise at studying the music, not enjoying "gbedu"), contrary to my attempt at preparing myself for the interview that was few hours away. I double check my setup to be sure it was in order. After all, in a few minutes I would have the hottest producer in the country on my laptop screen and if there is one thing I don't want to ask, it is if he can hear me.

Tuesday was selected by Tempoe's camp and I thought it made sense. Although I don't know what the weekly schedule of a serial hitmaker looks like but I can guess he isn't keen on starting a week with an interview or spending the weekend answering questions he might have answered all week (Tempoe has another interview scheduled for 45 minutes after ours). The Tuesday interview also works for me as compared to a busy Monday of the TurnTable Top 50 publishing that sees another Tempoe-produced song at No. 1; he is the only producer with multiple No. 1 songs on the chart, three times the total of any other person.

Tempoe joins the call a few seconds after the scheduled time and we exchange pleasantries. The first thing I ask the producer was his location, which he answered to be “mountain.” When I press on, he tells me he couldn’t share his current location which I presume to be either at another hitmaking session with a major artiste or hanging out with a frequent collaborator.

All through the interview, Tempoe has a calm demeanor, similar to his beats, and a smile that transcends the virtual call we are on. Staying on the scheduled interview questions proves to be quite difficult. We start with our shared love for Barcelona which has followed Messi to PSG;

"My love is not with PSG but with Messi - but I grieve with Barcelona currently and it shall pass lol."

We talk about his career path and beginnings as well as that of Ckay’s - a frequent collaborator. On one occasion, he tells me that Nigeria needs to celebrate his recent achievements better.

“Other countries will take Ckay’s success as their own, if we are not careful.” He is talking about the globe-trotting success of “Love Nwantiti (Ah Ah Ah),” Ckay’s 2019 song jointly produced by Tempoe & Ckay, which has been propelled by Tik Tok and a couple of regional remixes into one of the biggest songs in the world. The song has topped the Global YouTube Charts for two consecutive weeks and is charting in more countries than any other Afrobeats song before.```

“Other countries already think the song is theirs,” Tempoe continues, “so we should celebrate what Ckay is doing at the moment because trust me, he deserves every bit of it.”

Next, we find ourselves talking about the importance of TurnTable Charts’ role in the Nigerian music ecosystem. We talk about the importance of music charts published by TurnTable Charts and why having a structured charting system is essential.

“Data is amazing and it [TurnTable Charts] has to work because this is something big and it is ours. I can remember some time ago when “Essence” was gaining momentum in different parts of the world but wasn’t as big in Nigeria – you guys helped bring attention to that. And immediately "Essence" got bigger in Nigeria, you guys made that information available too - so it has to work because if it doesn’t, I feel like the entire industry would be missing something essential.”

We have less than forty-five minutes before Tempoe has to jump on another call, so we begin the interview proper;

TTC: Can we get to know you and how you chose Music Production as your career path?

TEMPOE: Nothing too interesting actually. I feel like now that I have talked about this over and over, I have come to realize that I really didn’t plan anything. I was in a Catholic Church with my family, which is a quieter environment when it comes to worship. It was really quiet when it comes to music but then I had to go live with my relative who weren’t Catholic but Anglicans. Music in the Anglican Church is different, so that was my first proper introduction to making music, because when I got there, the band interested me. I really didn’t care for going to church, but the music in church made it bearable for me. So that was the only thing that pushed me to church at the time – the fact that I could play on Sundays.

I was the youngest in the band so it wasn’t a stroll in the park for me. I had to earn my spot there and a time reached when I got bored in the band when they weren’t innovative enough and kept doing the same thing. I became bored and stopped going to church. After that I started doing Tech for some reason and from there I think that’s where I found music production, because I wanted to do more in the band but I was stuck with drums and the rest so I couldn’t do everything and I wanted to do everything. So when I found the software in Ojuelegba, I didn’t know what it was but I just felt like trying it out and I liked computers at the time, so I took it home. Nobody thought me how to produce, I just kind of figured it out through trials over the years. So since then I have really just been making beats and kept trying different things.

TTC: How long was this trial and error period?

TEMPOE: That’s the thing! From the very first beat I made, I was already enjoying what I was doing. Even now if I listen to the first beat I made, it might sound crappy but I still have friends that vibe to it. At the time, from the very first beat I made, I knew I wanted to do more and I just kept making more beats and that’s when I realized that to get this music out there I have to link up with artistes and that was when I met Ckay and since then, I have really just been making music.

TTC: Is Ckay the first Artiste you collaborated with?

TEMPOE: Yes, I guess so.

TTC: And now both of you have the biggest song in the World! How does that feel?

TEMPOE: It’s really funny because I didn’t know him, he didn’t know me. I think I got his number off a Friend’s phone (I’m sure the friend doesn’t know till today). I just reached out to Ckay and we just started talking, no too much questions. His music spoke for itself, it’s amazing on its own, and that’s why I wanted to work with Him. I’m drawn to people who “Sabi” (good at what they do). If I know you can add something to what I’m doing, I will just automatically want to work with you. At the time, I reached out to him (Ckay) as a producer, not even as an artiste. I didn’t reach out to him as if I was reaching out to an artiste. I was like “Guy your sound is dope, let me send you stuff,” that was just it and I sent him some stuff and he really vibed to it. We linked up and since then, it’s just been fire. I think this was around 2016 or 2017, it has been a While.

TTC: It has been a long time coming. People tend to forget that Ckay is also a Producer and it’s very interesting considering the fact that he is a very good producer too and the fact that many people know him as an artiste, especially with him having the No.1 song in the world.

TEMPOE: Yeah it’s crazy. Even the “Love Nwantiti” vibe, the core, mostly everything was Ckay. He already knew how he wanted it to sound, what I did mostly was really just to polish it, add new elements & transitions and just did my thing on the song. What we do is to send each other ideas, so “Love Nwantiti” is just another product of our idea exchange. He sent me the raw idea, I did my thing on it, sent it back to him, he finished up the song, and it dropped 2019.

I love putting my all into what I do. If I don’t want to do it, I won’t do it. If I’m sent a song and I don’t think it is strong enough or I have nothing to add to it, I just wouldn’t do it. So for me to agree to work on the song with Ckay, I’m just really happy and thankful every day that I agreed to do the song.

TTC: Still on “Love Nwantiti”, when the remixes started to come out, were you part of the creation of the official remixes?

TEMPOE: Well, the thing is everything from the original is in those remixes. So yeah, its practically the same thing on paper.

TTC: Before moving on from “Love Nwantiti”, if you had to go back to 2020, would you change anything about the song, albeit, as perfect as it sounds?

TEMPOE: To be very honest, at the time, I was in some dead place. I wasn’t thinking that much about it. I was just vibing and trying to make it as best as possible and when I was done, I just sent everything, and Ckay loved it. On the remix, he already worked on it and sent it to me one night and was like “What do you think about this?” Told him it was fire & that was it. That was the first remix with Joeboy and Kuami Eugune.

TTC: How does it feel to wake up in the morning and realize that you have the biggest song in Nigeria and possibly the biggest song in the world as a producer?

TEMPOE: I am just really excited for myself and this is going to cause a ripple effect because many boys and girls in Nigeria will feel that this is something they too can do. This is not just one song for Nigeria this period but two — “Essence and “Love Nwantiti”. It has certainly motivated me to break greater boundaries as well as thousands of Nigerian youths.”

I am by myself trying to think of how to push this thing further and that’s the wave I have been on personally before this moment. So now, I have that freedom knowing that I can actually do this and it feels amazing. The song just started blowing up like a month ago, this is like the beginning of the whole thing and I am really just happy for everything and the people involved.

TTC: So far in 2021, you have produced 3 songs “Godly,” “Understand,” and “Alcohol” that became smash hits and went No. 1. What do you think is the “Tempoe factor” that unites the songs?

TEMPOE: I really don’t know what it is. All I know is that for every song that I make, I try to really feel when I’m making music. If I am making a song, and I want it to really be emotional, I am really going to go for it by making myself emotional. If I do that you will definitely be emotional when listening to the song, so that is how I connect to people through music. And when I see people get the same reaction I got when making the song, it feels so amazing.

TTC: You and Omah Lay seem to make great music together, is there any creative relationship you guys share that helps when making music?

TEMPOE: Omah is my bro. Creatively, I know how to make him sound good [smiles], though I know how to make other artistes sound good also, but with Omah Lay, it is just easier or natural. Even when he's working on songs I didn't produce, I'm still involved in one way or the other - because I tend to be picky with the sound and fine tune every single detail. So it's always fun working with Omah Lay and I feel like our connection transcends creativity."

TTC: What the creative process behind Joeboy’s “Alcohol”?

TEMPOE: So, I did like 70% of the beat, sent it to him and he sent me a demo. I made a few changes; for example, the first verse was originally recorded to be the second verse. I asked him to bring that what you now hear as the first verse because I felt that verse was so good and the song had to start that way. I think I told him to do another verse for the second verse of the song, thankfully he listened to me and he recorded a new verse.

After that, I sat with the song alone for about 2 days, trying different sounds & ideas, many of which didn't even make the final cut but the ones that did fit in perfectly as I wanted. I am glad it worked out pretty well for everybody haha"

TTC: Do you have a plan to create your own “Tempo” project now or later in the future?

TEMPOE: Yes, I do but in divine timing.

TTC: In the upcoming project you have coming, is it with the same artist we know you to collaborate with or different ones?

TEMPOE: I don’t know and that is why it is really fun for me because man proposes, God disposes.

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