Simisola Bolatito Ogunleye is the petit ‘Jamb Question’ singer with a big voice. In this interview with Ifeoma Ononye, Simi as she is popularly called, speaks on
her new album SIMIsola, how defensive she was while growing up and her opinion about the Nigerian men.
Is this your first or second album?
I had a gospel album in 2008, so this is like my sophomore album.
How did the gospel album workout back then?
It did what it could do. It was definitely not as good as this one and I was definitely not as big as I am now.
Why did you switch from gospel to mainstream music?
I didn’t just switch now. I have been on the mainstream kind of music for a while. I just want to do more with music. I am fulfilled doing what I love which is music. When I was doing gospel, I wanted to do gospel and now that I am doing mainstream music, I love it too. So there is no feeling less fulfilled in it.
How did you feel now that the album is out?
I am blown away. I remember when I was putting the songs in the album together; people were asking me if it is going to do well since I did not feature many people. I only have one feature. I was a little bit nervous and at the same time, I wasn’t because putting the album out like that was the way I wanted it. I am glad that we are topping chat. A lot people believe that the success of an album depends on the features.
People say J-Cole; an American rapper went platinum twice without features, meaning that it is a big deal for you to do that by yourself. People attach importance to features when it comes to the success of an album. I wanted to feature but some did not sound the way I wanted it sound, so I had to drop them. This is not the end of my career. The fact that I did not do features on this one does not mean that I am not going to do features in other albums. The only song some people know are the ones I did with Falz and Adekunle Gold.
That is one of the reasons I put this album out without many features to show that I can hold my own. I felt I have to prove myself.
You featured only Adekunle Gold, is it like a payback for featuring you in his?
It is ridiculous to think that. Featuring him was an incredible coincidence but it’s not a pay back. I wrote ‘Take Me Back’ like four years ago. One year ago, I revisited the song. We worked on it before he dropped his own album. It was when we were compiling that we found out that the only song that has feature was the one with him. There is no scheme.
In Adekunle Gold’s songs, he actually spelt out your name and from then on, many people have been trying to put two and two together to find out if two of you have something going and now, he is the only one you featured in your album…
It was very flattering when I heard that song with my name. If you are trying to find out why he put my name there, you just have to ask him. It’s his song.
But if we put two and two together are we arriving at something chemistry between two of you?
If you put two and two together, you will arrive at four.
So who are you dating presently?
I can put everything else out there but not my private life. Who I am dating is personal to me.
But are you dating someone?
I have never denied that. I am in a relationship but I am not going to say ‘Who’ I am dating
Refereeing to the kind of jamb question you were referring to in your song, We like to know how many Jamb questions you have been answering right from secondary and are you still answering them till now?
I think every girl answers those kinds of questions once you are of dating age. But I cannot tell you how many I have answered and is still answering.
The song ‘Joromi’ is a nice one; we will like to know if the Simi in that song is the real Simi?
It could be. What you are hearing the girl sing is her thoughts. In the real sense, she is not saying anything to the guy. She is trying to use body language to tell the guy how she feels.
If you like a guy in real life, would you be bold enough to tell him?
I probably would. I might, I don’t know. There is nothing wrong with showing someone that you like him/her. There are definitely boundaries. There should be limits; I mean you shouldn’t be all over the person while expressing how you feel.
Some guys see girls that are bold to ask them out as cheap, how do you see that?
There is nothing wrong in telling someone that you like him. I mean I see girls that disrespect a boy that opened up that he likes her and I think that is not necessary. It is not necessary to be rude. So if a guy thinks a girl is cheap just because she expressed her feelings, I believe the guy in question has a very small mind in my opinion.
You have a very petit physic and a unique voice, has it been a disadvantage or advantage for you while growing up?
Growing up, I was more defensive because I was small. I used to think that people want to take advantage. I have always been a strong-minded person, so before you give me two, I will be giving you five. I don’t get easily bullied. I had to learn how to relax a little sometime and not believe that everybody wants to take advantage. My voice has always been an advantage for me. Some people try to treat me like a child, mimics my tiny voice when I am talking. I just hate it.
Has it always been all rosy for you, your music career?
I know it looks like I just hit it big but once you are known, nobody remembers that there was a real hustle behind the success. When I finished serving in 2009, I served in Abia State, FRSC. A record label signed me and I was there for four years. That did not go very well. I was really frustrated but I didn’t feel like giving up. Music has my full attention unlike many other hobbies I liked. My heart didn’t sway where music is concerned. I was not happy things were not going the way I wanted it. I was frustrated but I was thankful because that was where I found my sound. I carved a niche for myself. If I didn’t go through that, I don’t think I would have thought of improving on anything.
You are always singing about love, what kind of qualities are you looking for in a man?
I am a loyal lover. When I am in love, I am all in. If you betray my trust, I don’t think I can be with you because trust is a very important part of love. I hate to be lied to.
What about the fact that Nigerian men have trust issues?
Nigerian men use that as an excuse to mess up because they know that people expect less from them. They don’t want to be held accountable for their actions and so they generalise it by blaming it on all men. But I mean stop being defensive and accept you mistakes. If a man makes a decision, he should be responsible for his decision. You should not be responsible for Nigerian men decision. If I am dating you, I expect you to be as responsible as I will be.
Do you think Nigerian men are romantic?
No. There are very few that are romantic. I think that a lot of Nigerian men are too relaxed. Most believe they have to be romantic. Nobody pushes the Nigerian men to be the best they can be or fight for anything. A lot of Nigerian men grew up thinking they don’t have to work very hard to keep a woman. A lot of our mothers stayed and took the whole Nigerian men things but that does not mean that they were happy. They stayed because society expected them to stay.
A lot of our mothers and grandmothers were unhappy. If they had grown up knowing that there is a stiff competition and they must fight for what they value, a lot of women will be happy. If it gets to the point where a man believes there is nothing to fight for anymore ‘shebi she is my wife’, she is not going anywhere, that is when disrespect for the partner starts.