Disc jockey, Sodamola Desmond, aka DJ Spinall, speaks with OLUSHOLA RICKETTS about his sojourn in music and why DJs deserve more respect
Was being a DJ all you wanted as a kid?
No, I wanted to be an engineer and a lecturer too.
Did it ever occur to you that you would be widely known as a DJ?
It’s hard to think of that when you have a passion for something that is big. I just wanted to follow my dreams and I guess I have been rewarded for my hard work. I didn’t just wake up and become a DJ. I went to DJ Slim’s Academy in Ojokoro, Lagos, after my post-elementary education.
What were the things that influenced your decision to become a DJ?
I like to see people happy or excited. I wanted to use my talent to make people happy.
Will you say you had a fulfilling year in 2017?
I think it was a great year for me. I appreciate everyone, my fans and management because I did great things last year. 2017 was a preparation for what we have to offer this year. Last year, I released an album and I played at an international event, BET Awards. I toured six cities in the United States, three cities in South Africa and three cities in the UK. Last year too, I signed two producers, Killertunes and Stunna Beats, to my record label (The Cap Music) and they ended up producing Wizkid’s Manya and Kiss Daniel’s Yeba, respectively.
Why did you sign producers, instead of singers?
I am a DJ and I have realised that people don’t pay attention to the process through which songs are made. Since most people only pay attention to the glory, I decided to amplify the voices of producers because they make almost 80 per cent of the music we all play or listen to. However, I choose not to create much publicity for my producers because I wanted their works to speak for them and it takes time for anybody to have a major break in anything he or she does, including music. For instance, I have been playing music for 15 years. But it doesn’t mean they have to be around for 15 years before they get known. With time, more people will get to know them and their works because they are consistent and good at what they do.
Does that mean producers are not appreciated in Nigeria?
That is basically the reason I decided to sign producers. I am also signing DJs as well, but my plan is to prepare them for the challenges ahead before the unveiling.
You’ve released some songs with artistes. Do you plan to become a singer someday?
Everyone doesn’t have to sing; that is the whole essence of my creativity. I write songs, I produce, I promote and I sponsor my videos. There is so much you can do without singing; singing is just one of the things you can do. I don’t have to sing, but I can do anything I want to do. We have songwriters and DJs, but they don’t need to be singers, and singers don’t have to be producers or DJs as well. For me, the role I play in my songs is to produce and write them. I also make sure that good music is delivered to people. I think that is a lot.
Can you do without wearing a cap?
The truth is I don’t sleep with my cap. Even when you sleep with your cap on, it will drop at some point. For people who think there is something wrong with my head, it is fine. Wearing caps is just for fashion; it is the same way we put on clothes or jeans. All I do is to cut my hair for my caps to fit well. My style is largely influenced by my father who dresses well and loves to socialise.
How many caps do you have?
The last time I checked, I had more than 1,000. I started wearing caps out of sheer love for African prints. Every time we travel around the world, we see people wearing suits or jeans and T-shirts. I have always wanted to showcase that I am an African even though I wear jeans and shirts that belong to the west. People outside the country find my caps very fascinating and they always ask me where I come from. I tell them I am a Nigerian and we are not terrorists.
Did your parents support your move to become a disc jockey?
My family loves fun. My mother supported my decision to be a DJ but my father was a bit doubtful. However, since I had gotten a degree in engineering at Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, he wanted me to follow my dreams. But they kept telling me that once it didn’t work out well, I should fall back on my degree. I thank God things are going as planned.
What gave you hope when things looked uncertain?
Even when things were tough, I became more determined whenever I thought of the success stories of others. I believed that if they could do it, I can too. There was no time I felt like quitting despite the challenges that came my way.
Do you sometimes think you would have been better off as an engineer?
I think I will be successful in wherever my heart is or whatever I am committed to.
Do you have other things you do?
People need to understand that disc jockeying is not just a fad; it is bigger than just a job. If I were a banker, would you expect me to do other things?
Why do people think DJs add nothing to a song?
It is misinformation. It is true that a lot of people think DJs are not doing anything; they make free money. But if you look well, you will know. Vocals are the artistes’ major contribution to songs; the beats are sometimes done by DJs. These days, without good beats, you cannot get good songs. I always tell people that there is so much involved in making music and it is there for people to see unless they don’t want to see it. Because you don’t see me on television doesn’t mean I am not adding value to music. I can mention more than 100 DJs who don’t sing but contribute to music hugely.
Are there plans to retire as a DJ?
This is entertainment; you can be a DJ as long as you want. In other words, there is no retirement age for DJs. I have mentors who are still active DJs despite their old age. We are not artistes or comedians; we are the most important people when it comes to music.
How would you describe your personality?
I am simple, God-fearing and highly focused.
Were you a bully in secondary school?
I attended Lagos State Model College, Meiran. I cannot be a bully because I was a social perfect. There is no way a social prefect can be a bully; one of the things I did was to entertain students. Before you are even appointed a social prefect, the school’s management must have seen that you are friendly, lovable and you like bringing people together. It was during my tenure that I invited a DJ to the school. That was how I got my first inspiration to be a DJ.
What are the secrets to your rise to prominence?
I will always put God first because He crowns one’s efforts. You also have to be dedicated, consistent and hard-working. There were days that things were hard, but I thank God for seeing me through and I am still working hard. Since 2015, I have been releasing an album each year; I have three albums now. I have worked with the likes of 2baba, Wizkid, Wande Coal, Davido, Niniola, Olamide, Burna Boy, M.I. and a host of others. I also think Nigerians have been good to me. Without sounding cocky, what I bring to the table is different. My brand is strong and my track record of events has proved that I am good at what I do.
Are you in a relationship?
I am in a relationship with Nicki Minaj (laughs).
Do you have a baby mama?
I don’t have right now, but only God knows how many baby mamas are coming.
Does that mean you have no issues with having children outside wedlock?
Growing up, I always wanted to have kids after marriage. I think it is the best, but a baby could be developing as we speak. When it comes, I will gladly take it. I would like to have two or three kids.
How many awards have you received?
I have lost count. Awards are special to me because they motivate me to be a better DJ.
Who were those people you looked up to in music while growing up?
I have always admired 2baba, Sound Sultan, DJ Jimmy Jatt and many more.
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