DJ Redwood in an interview withVRH-C elebbuzz opened up on how he became a DJ and many other interesting stuff……
Q. So how did it all begin?
A. it all begun in secondary school as the president of social club in which i managed school events and looked after music/entertainment. I love music and passionate about art of djing.
I developed interest in DJ while in secondary school back in Nigeria, I am lucky to have friends who are interested in music & social events. in 90’s HipHop R&B Soul/Funk and Dancehall was a big thing in the music industry in Nigeria so i grew up listening to artist like Soul 2 Soul, Wrexx n Effect, R.Kelly etc, Apart from Afrobeats by Fela, Afropop artists like Plantashun boyz, Remedies etc were also changing the faces of Naija music and my interest quickly changed towards Nigeria Afropop music as i noticed a future in it. Although I also listened to indigineous music as well particlularly Fuji and JuJu music. Ebenezer Obey & Dr Sikiru Ayinde Barrister was my favourite. To be honest I’ll listen to any good music.
My friends began to wonder that my interest in music is getting too far and I was once told that am going places with music. I did not dispute that, I hardly miss DJ FX2 radio mix show on Raypower 100.5FM Lagos, I’ll listen to OGBC2 FM all day particularly anything relating to music program, I also listen to Radio Ibadan, OGBC1 for some country music and indigineous music, I was really current with all the latest music.
The first thing I saved for in my entire life was a walkman radio followed by a Hi-Fi stereo. I listened to various DJs and music program on radio.
Myself and my friends, formed Literary and Debating Society and annual social gathering in school, we organised after school house party in which i often be the DJ, I’ll travelled far to meet DJ’s such as FX2 or DJ Susszy (Abeokuta), Funky J, Midas, DJ Xmas, DJ Model, to get a mixtape, afropop mixtape and hiphop R&B mixtape. At parties, I’ll be mixing music by playing pre-mixed music from different dj’s in cassette player, I’ll be fast forwarding and rewinding with a pen to the desired track on each cassette player and I’ll often use two separate Hi-Fi stereo to ensure non-stop mix or to avoid having to stop the music in order to play next track. I became very close to DJ FX2 and DJ Suzzy whom i further drew more inspirations to become a DJ. I’ll go to different club shows, I became a mini celebrity in my own way, became popular in Ijebu Remo as a DJ without proper DJ Decks, particularly as a results of various after school house parties, inter-school social gathering, Inter-house sport activities (music/party section), I represent my school in Mayflower secondary school, Ikenne in music & miming competition and other schools, I was made the president of social gathering in my school and I successfully managed various social events. by 1995 I was well known as a DJ in my locality. after secondary school, myself and my school friends we kept in-touch and we formed A social club and we organised Sold Out Event every year with Nigerian top DJ’s, I was made the president of the club in rotation. Among the DJ’s we featured on the annual event was DJ FX2 (Raypower 100.5, OGBC2 FM, DJ MIDAS (Rythm 93.5 FM, DJ MODEL etc.
While i was the the president of the club, I relocated to Ireland, I was immediately in the urge to continue my DJ Career as well as to continue my education that I left behind at University of Ibadan. I missed the leadership role of the club, I missed the members of the team, missed everything!
My first Savings in Ireland, I bought myself a record turntable decks in March 2000. Atleast my first owned decks and mixer was a progress, it reminds me of how I will do anything for DJ’s just to touch a record back in Nigeria.
On arriving Ireland, i was based in South East Area (Waterford City), a little beautiful city with about just 10 Africans in which about 4 where Nigerians and that included me. As an Afrobeat DJ thats a big challange, although afrobeat music wasn’t popular like Kukere and Azonto we saw today back then.
I met an Irish girl, who became my best friend and with the catalogue of music I brought to Ireland in mixtape, she loved them all. We will go to club together, show me around, I kept my head up and opened my eyes wide, studying my newly found environment in anxiety, curiosity and enthusiasm but i was very optimistic that something positive will happen in this country for me.
I’ll travel to HMV Dublin Grafton Street from Waterford to buy vylin records and go back, if the music I’m looking for is not in my local record store in Waterford. I’ll watch MTV all day if possible for latest music, not very familiar with youtube or any social network at that time, am not really someone that woud be interested in things like that originally, even though I am a DJ, my friend would describe me as shy person, i don’t go out much except for the course of my duty.
I started DJying for white crowd- my girlfriend’s family and friends organised club event in Waterford, Wexford andother counties. First club I DJ was King’s Pub in Waterford around 2001 when the population of African’s in Ireland was picking up. I began to hear about DJ Flavor, DJ Ola and DJ Frank Jez in terms of popularity. Although Frank Jez was mostly known as Club DJ, Myself & DJ Flavor were very popular as Ireland biggest Afrobeat DJ’s and we often use to spilt the crowd and followers, as some promoters who work with flavor would not work with me vice-versa. it was a big competition between myself and DJ Flavor inflicted by people around us even when we had not even met each other, I used to hear about him and he used to hear about me, although few more people will regard him as my senior and he was extremely popular than me in some cities in Ireland, I was also extremely popular than him in some cities, we became popular throughout Ireland and DJed in all the major cities around the country mainly for Nigerian events, house parties, hall parties special occassions. DJ Ola however was extremely popular in Dublin particularly amongst Nigerians and Yoruba speaking population. I sometimes feel that DJ Ola is the most popular Nigerian Afrobeat DJ in Dublin to date, while the most popular Nigerian DJ in Ireland among Nigerians is debatable between myself and DJ Flavor. (considering all age statistics) to date.
Above all the competitions, i was able to distinguish myself with more popularity by launching Redwood Entertainment Ireland, first DJ to do that and promote events other than just dejaying. I do shows with strategic promotion to promote my brand, I became recognised by phantom entertainment who made me their official DJ, phantom entertainment organised one of the biggest African event in Ireland to date, for example First Night of A thousands Laugh in Ireland featuring BacketMouth, I go Die etc, Nollywood Film Festival with the premiere of Kingsley Ogoro Film (Osofia in London), with the nollywood artistes like Ramsey Noah, Ini Edo, Kingsley Ogoro, Sammie Okposo, Stella Damascus and many other acts.
On the other hand was also promoters I respected for example Happy As Larry, who often works with DJ Flavor and organised a massive afrobeat concert featuring Sunny Nneji Oruka Crooner and Mr Wole AriseKola (Street Jornal paper) who often works with DJ OLA and perhaps the person I feel organised the first major Nigerian event in Dublin, he organised Movie Awards nite featuring Genevieve, Omotola Jalade, Jim iyke etc and also popular among yoruba by organising Fuji/JuJu music events such as Pasuma, Yinka Ayefele concert etc.
That was the biggest Nigerian promoters then working with 3 different biggest Nigerian DJ’s in Ireland. Also I was quickly emerging as a promoter as well as a DJ independently, competing as a DJ as well as a promoter with Redwood Entertainment Ireland.
I became the longest runing promoter in Ireland to date independently, in terms of the number of successuful shows (club parties & major concert), Redwood entertainment was number one in organising events, sometimes up to 30 self owned events a year, Redwood Entertainment organised 2face Idibia concert featuring Da Native at Ambassador theatre Dublin with about 900 people attended at a price of 40euro person. Hosted Kenny Ogungbe & D1 with JJC in Concert, Organised first Afrobeat Festival with Olamide, Among artistes that performed at redwood entertainment shows includes, DJ Zeez, Jaywon, Essence, Konga, Paul Play, and Nollywood Act Chidi Mokeme.
Q. What gave you that initial push?
A. I think its inner call, I have it in me naturally, I’ll like to think its a hobby gone too far and now am loving it.
Q. What makes you different from other dj’s apart from your gender?
A. Am me, I like to think I play the right tracks at the right time and keep a constant groove in motion. I have technical ability along with the ability to read the crowd and connect with them.
Q. Do you perform for more than one event in a day?
A.Yes, particularly on Saturdays, early party and late party and I also have few DJ’s am training, that work for me.
Q. How do you cope/manage requests from guests when you are djing?
A. all request aren’t that bad, especially when the request fits into my current set, If i have it, i’ll play it at my convenient time according my style and if I don’t I’ll politely tell them
Q. What do you do to motivate the crowd if nobody is dancing?
A. Many people have told me they enjoyed my music even though they only dance to one or two. we must understand that the environment is a major factor in weather people dance or not, I fully understand my environment and I understand my crowd. But the first thing that do come to my mind is to change the music according to what they’ll like
Q. How do you keep your music collection up-to-date?
A. A mixture of online & retail stores, am also close to many promoters and DJ’s, artistes in Nigeria who send me their songs in mail.
Q. Do you belong to any professional associations or trade groups?
A. Yes, I was a senior member of Dublin Institute of technology DJ Society, and member of Nigerian DJs. I am working on Afrobeat DJ’s Ireland Association. with cooperation of others we can achieve it.
Q. One thing you would change about the current local music scene in the AFROTAINMENT community in Ireland?
A. Local music scence affect artistes individually, I don’t see any general crisis that need urgent attention. A change that apply to one may not apply to others, what I would say is keep you ahead up.
Q. What advice would you give to up and coming Dj’s/MC’s?
A.People, you have to work hard, make mistakes so that you can learn, listen and learn, be yourself and work hard to a greater height.
Q. If you could stage a rave anywhere, where would you choose?
A. Am working on Nigeria events at the moment, perhaps UK and of course Ireland too.
Q. How do you see the scene 5 years from now?
A. I feel like myself and couple of other dJs have enjoyed few best moments in Ireland Afroentertainment. Even though There are too many bigger events few years back (in terms of turnout) than in the last 2 years i still feel like better days ahead.
Q. If you had a time machine what year would you go back to and why?
A. to be honest I’ve enjoyed every year of my life in the Afroentertainment industry, I feel that am lucky to have enjoy many of the best moment of it and it can only get better in my opinion through hard work and better cooperation.
Q. Anything else you want to say? Any shouts?
A. Big Shout out to All DJ’s, MC’s, Promoters, Artistes, colleagues in the business doing their own thing, One love!