Fresh from her studies abroad, budding artiste, Seun Oni, says she is set to take the Nigerian music industry by storm. The singer, songwriter, rapper and entrepreneur, who goes by the stage name Saeon, has been in the industry for about a year. Her two new singles, Awada Erekere and Nekunek, are currently enjoying airplay and internet downloads. Saeon (pronounced Scion), speaks with OVWE MEDEME on terrorism, her field of study, music and her entrepreneurial dive.
WHAT genre of music are you into?
I dabble into different genres but I am originally an R n B artiste. I also dabble into Afro Pop and I rap a little.
It is rare to see someone who does R n B and also raps. How is that working out for you?
I think it has to do with experience and time that I spent in nurturing my talent. I started writing R n B songs and then I guess I just stumbled on something that wasn’t R n B and I just took it up from there. I guess I am able to just ride on anything i come across.
Which of them do you enjoy the most?
I am endeared more to R n B. That is what I started with, that is what I know, that is what keeps me going. It is my choice when it comes to writing songs. I think R n B first before I think of any other genre.
When did you come to the realisation that it would be music?
I have always known as a child. I have always loved music. I listen to music from a very early age. Music has always been my ‘to go’ place whenever I was feeling low. It was just a matter of how I would start writing songs and produce them. Because of the kind of family I come from, I had to be done with my education first before venturing into music full time.
What did you study?
For my undergraduate school, I read International Studies and History in Babcock University. I did my Post Graduate in International Relations with focus on Terrorism and Counterterrorism as well as the covert activities of the CIA. I had different modules I could have focused on. Nothing was challenging or new to me so when I came across Terrorism and Counterterrorism, I saw it as something that happens in contemporary times so I decided to go for it.
That is an exciting field of study. Don’t you feel like you are missing out on something by focusing on music?
I feel guilty because I feel I actually need to apply myself into my field of study in the best of ways that I can. Nigeria is a country that is actually facing terrorist attacks. I have been looking for ways to link myself up with the NIA, that is the Nigerian Intelligence Agency just at the background and just contribute in my own way as a patriotic citizen who has specialised in this issue.
Do you find music exciting?
Yes, it is very exciting for me. It is what makes my blood flow.
Does it put money in your pocket?
It is a gradual process. I haven’t got to that level yet because I am still coming up. I am willing to go through the process.
Do you have an album yet?
I have a couple of singles. I released two singles last year but prior to that, I did a cover of Brymo’s Ara which actually got a lot of buzz and gave me a jumpstart in my career. Brymo actually endorsed it and it was aired on radio.
What stage are you in your career right now?
I am at the stage where i have just come out from a hiatus. I actually took time out to just study the industry. When I came back from school, i didnt know how things were properly done here in Nigeria. I had to study the terrain first. I took time out to really understand it and to know how things are done and how to push my music. I also took time out to rebrand myself and my style of music to suit the Nigerian public.
R n B is not perceived as commercial. How do you hope to make a living out of it?
I keep hearing that all the time but the thing is that I will be happy doing what I love even if I don’t make money out of it. It is easier for me to do what i love and not make money from it than to do what I don’t want and make money. That is why I decided to dabble into other genres because i know that Nigerians like the high tempo type of music.
So far, have you done any collaboration?
I have a couple of collaborations coming up though I can’t mention names now. I am working on a few tracks. I have done some collabos in the past but I am trying to work with people that are really established now in the industry because I feel like they help us tap into each other’s fan base.
Did you do any serious form of music in England?
I did not. I became really active at the tail end of my stay but I took part in a competition. It was an MTV UK Brand New Artiste competition that allowed for people to compete with each other and the winner will be pushed by MTV. I had to compete with people from all over the world. I didn’t win it but it was something I was glad to have done. I got to the final stage actually.
What experience did you gather from the competition?
You never know who is listening to your music. You can’t say you are doing music for just Nigeria. You have to think on a larger scale because at the end of the day what determines your stardom is the world clout that you ahve. Don’t be narrow-minded.
Are you signed on to any label?
No, I am an independent artiste
Do you prefer it that way or you are still waiting for the right label to come?
It is not so easy to take on being an independent artiste but at the end of the day, Nigerian record labels do not give the guarentee that they would make you blow. There is nothing different from what i have been doing for myself that a record label can do for me. Unless a record label can provide an idea that is better than mine, then i can work with them.
What are some of the themes you sing about?
I sing about love, I motivate people, I sing about heartbreak and just basically any topic I fancy.
Everybody sings about love. Wouldn’t you say the issue is being overrated?
There are different ways to say the same thing.
Aside music, what else are you into?
Outside of music, I have a company. What I do is that I make theme songs, jingles, souvenirs and general merchandise. That is another way for me to keep myself going.
So far, how many gigs have you performed?
This year, I haven’t been on any show but last year, I performed in quite a number of them. I performed at the Arise Magazine Fashion Week. I was nominated last year at the Nigerian Music Video Awards and I got to perform there. I performed at the Koko Concert. I also got to perform in Nigeria, Angola and England.
How long have you been running it?
I just registered it March this year and I got a major project with NAFDAC. I did a jingle for them as well as a TV commercial. I have also been sending proposals to other Ministries and Parastatals and companies.
What was growing up like?
I grew up Lagos. We first lived in Festac before we moved to Abuja. I come from a family of seven including my parents. We are two boys and three girls. I am the middle child and the middle girl. I feel like I am special. Growing up was fun. I remember singing from a very early age with my siblings. They even used to call us the Oni Family Singers then. I lived in Festac but that was when it was actually quite nice.
Presently, are you in a relationship?
At the moment, no. With my career, I have to really focus but at the end of the day, it is about where you are, yes or no, now or not and right now, it is not.
Is it that your career came in the way of your relationship?
No, it did not. If I am going into a relationship now, the person must understand that this is my baby. He has to be understanding because I would be too as long as what he does is legit.
What kind of guys are you endeared to?
I love, the whole tall dark handsome guys but I am actually not restrictive. If we are from different tribes or different countries, it is not an issue. I know that my parents would like me to marry a Yoruba guy but I feel like we should not discriminate each other. I like guys who work out, neat guys and guys who are caring. He also has to be a Christian and he has to love God.
What if a guy meets all your criteria but it turns out he is not a Christian, would you turn him down?
That is the only disparity that I can’t even consider. We all worship one God, it is just the way people go about it but I don’t feel like I need to convert my faith for someone else. If I do that, it should be for myself or because I found something better but I am okay with what I have now.
Is your blonde hair a fashion statement?
It is my official brand. I launched it about three months ago. It is what works for me. It is my distinct factor.
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