Nigerian pop star Iyanya took everybody by surprise yesterday, as he signed on to Don Jazzy’s Mavin Records, after leaving Trible MG a company he co-owned alongside with his longtime friend and business partner Ubi Franklin.
The newly Mavin Records signee Iyanya in an exclusive interview with Premium Times, reveals reason why he join the Mavin family. In the exclusive chat with Premium Times correspondent, Iyanya speaks on fame, Mavin deal, music, women in his life, social media and many others.
PT: Tell us more about your deal with Mavins Records?
Iyanya: It’s official that I am now a Mavin and I have dropped my first single titled Up 2 Sumting on the label.
PT: How long did this deal take to materialise?
Iyanya: To be honest, it wasn’t planned it just happened. To be honest, I can’t remember when I left Made Men Records. It took me a couple of months for us to make this decision. After I released the single, Gift, last year, I left Made Men Music and I joined Temple Management. I needed to work with someone who understands the music industry and can help me fulfill the dream of getting my music right. And that’s why I went with Don Jazzy. I chose him because I realised the need to work with someone to bring out the real Iyanya, which is the singing Iyanya, and at the same time, commercialise the music.
PT: But there were talks that you wanted to set up your own record label after your exit from your former label?
Iyanya: It’s not difficult to set up my record label; it costs about N120, 000 to register a label. My brand demands a lot of attention and I did actually float a label. I had begun putting things in place but I didn’t see people that I could entrust my label to. The future I see for the Iyanya brand goes way beyond putting 10 people who call themselves Iyanya crew together wearing branded T-shirts. But this is what everyone wants me to do.
Leaving Made Men Music to start my own label means I will be in charge of my music and logistics, which is so stressful, and I don’t think I’m ready for that. That is why I went with Temple Management and Don Jazzy. Every time Jazzy and I work, it’s very smooth and productive so we decided to make it official. Don jazzy is a legendary and amazing producer and having him supervise my project is a beautiful experience.
PT: Did you get other offers?
Iyanya: There was no offer I didn’t get. I have worked hard enough to have people call me up and promise to invest in my career. I had different offers but I let them go for something I was sure about; Don jazzy is a perfectionist.
PT: Did you float Made Men music?
Iyanya: No I co-own the label.
PT: Are you still a co-owner?
Iyanya: That’s a long story for another day. But I co-owned the label and to be honest with you the entire underground work and logistics was Ubi’s. I respect him for that because he did a great job and I played my own part.
PT: How easy was it for you to walk away from a company you co-owned to sign a new deal?
Iyanya: It’s not easy but there comes a time in life when you have to let go of pride and act like you never had a hit in the first place. I have just turned 30 today and I m trying to show people a new side that there is to me. I will never disrespect Ubi for any reason in the world. I will also continue to pray for my former label and former band mates.
PT: How much is the deal worth and how long is it for?
Iyanya: I can’t disclose all that. The only thing I owe the public is to churn out good music.
PT: Mavin Record is filled with exciting artistes. Do you see yourself blending in pretty fast?
Iyanya: I love Mavin because they are a family and I now see why they have been successful. They work as one and it’s a great family to be with.
PT: Since your exit from Made Men, Tekno has been on the rise. In fact, some people now draw comparisons between you and him?
Iyanya: Anybody that compares me with Tekno doesn’t know what he or she is saying. Tekno is a blessing to Made Men Music. He works hard and I have always called him the Golden Boy long before he became famous and I am very proud of him. So, anyone who compares me with Teckno must be dumb. It doesn’t make any sense to compare me with him.
PT: Following your deal with Mavin Record, will you consider working with any of your former label mates?
Iyanya: Why not. If Tekno or Selebobo brings a beat I love I definitely will jump on it.
PT: Do you have any regrets so far in your career?
Iyanya: I feel like in the last years I’ve tried to be extremely commercial which takes away the originality of my music and craft.
With Mavins right now I’m trying to go back to singing but also commercialise my music. Whenever I’m working with Don Jazzy and I try to be do something different, he’ll go, “Ore calm down now o, you have to sing.”
So, even when if I sing in Yoruba anyone who listens to my song, will appreciate my voice better. I want to start singing but then commercialise it more that’s the only thing I feel I’ve not done right over the years.
PT: Having turned 30, don’t you think you are ripe for marriage?
Iyanya: It’s not very easy and if I had my way this marriage thing would have been history. It’s not easy to get my music right and also get married. Everybody may think that I have that bad boy reputation but I respect marriage a lot, I don’t believe that I should get married and then get out. I don’t want to rush in and rush out of marriage.
PT: What qualities do you desire in your dream woman?
Iyanya: You say you want a girl from the church, you go carry devil. If you say you want, a dancer you carry trouble.
I’m trying to be patient and its even harder now that I’m Iyanya. It’s extremely hard to find someone who truly cares for you when you are famous. You see, I probably fell in love with a girl two years ago and only to realise a year later that she was sleeping with my colleague.
How do you want me to marry that kind of girl? If I marry that kind of girl and my colleague leaks a sex tape he recorded with her in the future, the media will still feast on it. Maybe this is one of the things I regret. I should have gotten married way back when my late mum used to disturb me to settle down. But I was just 22 at the time. I’m not giving up on marriage or love I just want get music right.
PT: What do you miss the most about your late parents?
Iyanya: Fame will bring so many fake people into your life. Before I became really famous there were times when I would feel downcast but when I call my mum her prayers makes me feel better. My father was also my best friend.
PT: Do you still go to church?
Iyanya: I love going to church every Sunday and I love paying my tithe.
PT: What has fame deprived you off?
Iyanya: Fame gives you almost everything but then it takes away almost everything. Before I step out my house each day, I’m always conscious of my appearance but sometimes I erroneously repeat an outfit twice. When this happens I shy away from taking pictures at events. But I am thankful because this is the life I have chosen to live.
PT: Is social media a blessing or curse to your career?
Iyanya: Social media puts you under so much pressure; too much unnecessary pressure and I’ve learnt that we famous people don’t have to put everything out there. I’ve learnt that social media is not a place you should depend on for strength.
It should be a place where you just go in and go out. Your fans are there, they want music, give them music, if they want videos; give them videos. If they want to know how your last show went, show them. Don’t go about showing them your girlfriend or other personal stuff. When you have something that’s precious and priceless, you have to guard it, so if you have a girlfriend that you love, why are you putting her on social media? Keep it to yourself at least till you put a ring on her finger then you can now show her as your wife. I’ve learnt not to show off my girl friend again on social media any longer.
PT: So, will you pull a D’banj on your fans?
Iyanya: I wont lie to you but I may also have a secret marriage because I want my marriage to last. I will keep it off social media as much as I can.