Not all gospel songs are healthy to spiritual growth — Tobiloba
Omole Oluwatobiloba popularly known as Tobiloba is a Romania-based Nigerian artiste from Osun State who describes his genre of music as Afro-Gospel, in this interviews he takes us on his musical journey, his beliefs, visions, hopes and fears.
Why settle in Romania of all European countries?
To be honest, I never really was the type of person that just wanted to leave the country,as a matter of fact I used to advocate that it really didn’t matter that much where you were,as much as the kind of person you were.
So, when I mentioned to a few of my friends that I thought the next phase of my life involved moving out, they were quite shocked, I moved to Romania to pursue my education as a doctor but very honestly deep down I just felt it was the next thing to do at that phase of my life. So I simply followed the inspiration, but yeah College was just a means to an end,which was to align to the instruction of that season of my life
You said your genre of music is Afro Gospel, what exactly does that mean and what does it entail?
See, we all have why we do what we do. As I earlier mentioned, classification is not really the big deal as much it’s actually the content and the spirit behind a song, music is powerful, even from a scientific point of view.
The sounds we listen to are waves, and a couple of researchers have actually proven it that cells do respond to sound waves and if a human is a community viable cells that shows us how powerful music is. It’s not a joke, the power is not even in the classification as much as it is in the effect of the music. Some so-called secular music move people towards love and even more than some gospel music. Yes, I dare to say that even though some people might disagree, not everything that is labelled gospel is healthy for the spiritual growth, some actually hinder it. See, music is too powerful to just subject people to anything because they are classified as gospel or secular.
If you describe my music as gospel that’s fine, but I don’t write from a place of classification, I write from a place of calling and my content is orientated in the direction it is because the motivation behind my call to serve in this area does not permit me to make such weighty decisions on the premise of financial gain. Money is not bad and issues around it should be managed properly to avoid penury and enable continuity, but money should not be the driving force deciding the content behind such a powerful decision to influence another human that much.
Why gospel music in the first place when its circular music that’s more accepted and more commercially viable?
Afrogospel was actually just a name given by a few people in the industry here in 2016, because of the content of my music which they categorized as related to God but at the same time didn’t really fit into the typical “American” gospel vibe they were used to. Mine had the African touch to it, I heard it then and I didn’t mind it, I think it was my PR person back then that first described it as that as she needed to pitch my sound to a few people and I didn’t mind it being called that. But honestly in terms of genre I don’t believe in classifying artists and boxing them but for easy understanding and to help fit into the already existing templates that we use to classify music. I was okay with that, because of where my content eventually drives my listeners to, but I maintain that the Gospel is not genre, and I don’t like to be classified not because I don’t know what I stand for, but because the labelling gives room for the audience to demand from my creativity only what they think my “genre” stands for and the call to be an artist is bigger than existing labels, it is a call to prepare the mind of the masses for the culture of tomorrow and sometimes the culture of tomorrow might need to negate the existing traditions we have today. So yes, I am an African man, a Nubian, and I am a friend of God, and my art is only from that perspective, but it’s not limited to those walls.
What is your general opinion about Nigerian music, particularly the street music and Afrobeat?
Nigeria music has always been global because it’s good music. I know there is a recent wave of international collaborations across many genres even on the “Gospel”platform,it seems like the world is suddenly awakening to the sound from us as an industry, but to be honest Our music has always attracted global attention. We probably didn’t celebrate those success that much in the past because there probably was not social media to hype some of those successes, but some of our elders and fathers did have significant breakthroughs back then. Some of them played at world famous festivals in the past and platforms, so our music has always been a vibe even on the international platform. I remember being on the production set of an advert campaign for a Swedish headphone company not as a musical artist in 2013, just for photos and the Swedish photographer on one of the sets was seriously blasting Fela’s ‘Water no get enemy’, spitting the lyrics like a second language. So our music has always been a vibe globally, the good thing is, we now have the opportunity to see in real time how the world is appreciative of our sound, we can see videos online of major celebs on the western platform vibing to our sound, and all these also contribute to the hype, which is definitely a good thing, the recent collaborations also help to open up the sound more but our music has always been a vibe. A tight vibe.
There are worries about Nigerian music being all about beat and not strong on lyrical content and message, what’s your take on this?
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My answer to that is, it depends on who you listen to. Like most entertainment industries we have various types of artists but if you are out to look for intellectual content, I can boldly say we have quite a number of artist to boast of, maybe they don’t get enough support from the industry but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. So, I don’t think it’s fair to classify every one under one roof and pass such a remark. It is true that there are people who just want to blow and would put anything on a good beat, literally anything. But that doesn’t mean there are not other artists who are painstakingly detailed about their lyrical content. So my conclusive answer to that would be it depends on who you listen to and if we want to hear better content on our mainstream platforms let’s all be more supportive towards better content, we all have a responsibility. At the end of the day it’s a cycle, entertainment influences the people, the people influence the industry and the industry influences entertainment and the career of content makers, so it’s a cycle that we all play a role in.
When did you start music professionally and how has the journey been like?
It depends on the age group, it can be quite a cultural shock but we are breaking grounds gradually, the youth and young adults are more responsive to foreign ideas and thanks to the internet today, entertainment can cross borders without much hassle. So yeah, it’s taking a lot of work but people are beginning to respond. So I’d say it’s good enough for now and it will even get better in the future.
Apart from making music, what else do you do?
I am a doctor, I practice medicine in the field of psychiatry. I also write my own plays and produce them in theaters under an organizations called The Ndicy Vision, these plays like my music are inspired from the same perspective.
What is unique about your own brand of music and how do you get inspiration to write and produce songs?
In terms of sound I’d say it’s a fusion, I love to experiment, I don’t like to be boxed, I appreciate a sound that is rooted in diversity, but mostly it always has an element of the African background to it, either in groove or in language, but in terms of content I’d say, a music that’s moves humanity away from fear and every thing that comes with it towards Love, Life and Light, the way God intended it from the beginning.
So, when I write , I write from my highest point of the revelation of truth I have at that season of my life, my lyrics are always reflective of my walk with divinity and the perspective He has afforded me in that season, but in terms of subject I can write about anything but I infuse it with the highest level of revelation I have as at that time, void of the bias of financial gain.
When did you start music professionally?
I professionally recorded my first single in 2013 and that would be my first step into professional music. God’s been faithful, I know it probably would sound like a cliche to say “it’s not been very easy” but like anything that’s worth doing you have to pay the price. itely bright!! Let’s go…lol
What do you fear most as a musician?
My biggest fear as a musician would probably be to get the opportunity to influence humanity through my art and use it negatively. I mean I am very intentional about my content because I understand the power of arts and music; these things shape our culture and more consequentially shape our future because, we pass on the values from today’s culture to the next generation.
So, I would really hate to get a chance to play such a pivotal role and mess it up, that scares me ,the gravity of such responsibility scares me and I use it as a motivation to make better choices but it doesn’t really paralyze me because I know I am not alone