Ebisan and Her Journey to Win a Grammy – The Full Interview

Ebisan (Bukola Damola) is an upcoming soul singer and songwriter. She started out her music career as a gospel singer in the UK.
In Nigeria, she is better known for having penned three songs, Suru, Jowo, and Dance with Me, for the award winning soundtrack of the 2010 movie Tango With Me. Her debut single was titled Love Story. Read the full interview about Ebisan and her Journey to win a Grammy.

– You are Bukola Damola; Ebisan is your itsekiri name. Why did you opt for Ebisan as your stage name?

On my birth certificate, the first name written is “Ebisan“. A lot of people don’t know this. I love the way it sounds, it’s a beautiful name and it’s not very common.

– Would you like to tell us about your Family Background?

Well, I’m the last child of two doctors. My father is Yoruba and my mother is Itsekiri. We lived in three different countries, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and England and have been exposed to various diverse cultures over the years.

-At what point did you decide that you wanted to pursue a career in Music?

At the age of eight, I sang to a large audience in an auditorium and ever since then I’ve been hooked! I knew I would eventually be a musician and an entertainer.

-How did your folks react to your eventual music career?

They had always known that I would pursue a music career eventually and so they had time to come to terms with it, voice their concerns and also give good advice.

-If your parents weren’t in support of your music career, would you have gone ahead with it without their blessings?

I believe I have a God given gift and it would be wrong to put aside my talent. I believe if
they were not in support of my decision, they would eventually  have accepted it in the future.

-How would you describe Ebisan‘s style of music?

I would say my style is very soulful. I enjoy writing songs in various genres but I always give them a soulful twist.

-Do you consider yourself a prolific songwriter now?

I consider myself a talented songwriter but I love to challenge myself so as to constantly improve my skills. The goal is to become one of the greatest.

-What Kind of music appeals to you the most?

Jazz and soul music.

Ebisan at 2012 Hennessy Artisty Video premiere

-Your attention to details not only reflects in your songwriting but also in your videos, did you ever get a formal training for this?

I was never formally trained but I have been in various choirs in England. From Junior to Chapel and Senior choirs so I believe they helped me develop my skills and made me more disciplined.

-Songwriting, Vocalism and Performance (on and off stage) are factors that shape one’s artistic value in the music industry. Which do you consider your greatest strength?

That’s a tough one, I would say I thoroughly enjoy delivering the finished product and so I would say performing my songs is my greatest strength simply because it is the end product of hard work. It is the most fulfilling part to me.

– As a Soulful artiste, have you got a target audience? Or do you think your kind of music can be accepted by any kind of listener?

The latter because I believe everybody can appreciate my music depending on what mood they are in. Some have said my music is perfect after a stressful day. Some say they love to listen to my music while stuck in traffic so as to stay calm and positive. It really all depends.

– The first time I heard any of your materials was on Beazy’s “Up In Tha Building” & “I hear your voice”. And even though it was pretty decent, you still didn’t generate enough buzz. Whose fault would that be? Yours? Beazy’s? or it just wasn’t your time?

I really enjoyed recording those songs. Neither of them were officially released as singles as that was never the plan. They were part of a year long project Beazy did called Beazy Music Monday. It was just a fun project to be part of.

– As an artiste who pays attention to Songwriting, have you ever considered compromising your standards to suit the average Nigerian music listener?

No, I haven’t.

-You’re aware of the stiff competition female artiste’s face against their male counterparts. So what makes you think you’re going to thrive in the music industry?

Apart from my talent, I believe my good work ethic, constant need to improve and my positive outlook will give me the edge I need to thrive in this competitive industry.

-Many female artistes (in Nigeria) find it difficult to gain attention without a recognised record label and some level of eccentricity or raunchiness. I believe you’ve got a record label/management team, so do you see yourself going for the latter anytime soon?

I see myself remaining who I have always been, uniquely me! I will only do what comes naturally and what makes sense to me and remain hopeful that it will gain the right kind of attention.

– Have you got standards you adhere strictly to as an artiste?

Yes I do. I make sure I give my best in whatever I put out. Years from now I’d love to listen to my music and still be proud.

– So at what point would you consider yourself a successful and accomplished music artiste?

When I win a Grammy award or more!

– Musical Influences? (Within and outside Nigeria)

Barbra Streisand, Elton John, Sade, Whitney Houston, Fela, Beautiful Nubia and much more.

– Have you ever ghost written for any artiste?

Yes, in England I wrote a couple of songs for gospel artistes.

– If after a while you still aren’t getting the desired results from music, would you give it up for the Business Management you studied for?

Music has and always will be part of my life. Since the age of eight I never stopped performing on stage, I doubt I ever will. Nothing good comes easy and I am ready to do the work required.

– If No; what exactly will make you give up on music completely?

If my voice box stops working but then again that won’t stop me from writing songs! lol So I guess the answer is “nothing”.

– You’ve got an Educational background in Business Management. So when making music, do you consider it a business venture or just an avenue to express your artistic value?

Yes my Master’s degree was in International Business Management. When writing and recording, I express myself honestly without considering the business aspect. That being said, I understand that this is also a business so the knowledge acquired from university is still very useful.

– Since you became a professional, have you ever made money off music?

Yes, my first paid performance was at the age of sixteen.

– If yes; the least you’ve ever received was how much?

Let’s just leave it at I am grateful to get paid for something I love doing….. Lol

– Right now, a sustainable relationship with your fan base is inevitable. How do you handle the attention you get even when you aren’t interested?

I think having a grateful attitude is key. It’s a blessing to be in the position I’m in right now and I never want to take it for granted. So I welcome attention from supporters anytime.

– The Nigerian music audience could be frustrating when it comes to the reception of one’s art. So how do you handle criticism from fans & Colleagues?

I always take on board constructive criticism, it helps me improve as a person and as an artiste.

– The most awkward music collaboration of yourself you’ve ever dreamt of is with?

A collaboration with Elton John might be somewhat awkward but fun and rewarding nonetheless.

– Favourite song ever written & performed?

Sade’s Cherish The Day.

– What do you want to be remembered for as an artiste?

Bringing more great music into the world.

– Speaking of music production. Why do you think females hardly venture into music production?

I honestly cannot speak for other female artistes but I enjoy being a part of the production process. When I write a song, I tend to know exactly what I want the music to sound like and it is fun creating the music with the help of talented producers.

– Who is your favorite Nigerian Producer?

Someone I haven’t worked with yet but definitely admire, Mr Cobhams Asuquo

– So is “Love story” a personal record?

Yes it is. It was inspired by someone I knew at the time and also a book I read called The Road Less Travelled.

– If No, when are we gonna be told about yours?

– What Nigerian songs have you got on your playlist right now?

Oleku by Ice Prince, Eye Adaba by Asa, Catching Cold by Tunde Ednut and Dr. Sid, Roll by Rayce, Tatashe by P.R.E and Bottom Bele by Omawunmi and Flavour.

– Tell us what you think we don’t know about you

I absolutely love chocolates and coffee!

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