Singer, songwriter and current President of the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN), Mr. Pretty Okafor, of the defunct Junior and Pretty group, in this interview with TONY OKUYEME explains why he was yet to come out with an album since the passing on of Junior of ‘Junior and Pretty’ fame. He also talks about women, music, PMAN and other issues
Since death of your colleague and group member, you seem to taken a break from releasing any albums. Is this deliberate?
Yes, it was deliberate, because, first, there were no excitements anymore. Second is that I was left with a whole lot of responsibilities, like my family and Junior’s family, and the boys are entering universities now, so it’s a whole lot of work. Then that leads me to expanding my business activities and my business space, getting involved with so many other things, so that I can double revenue generation. That, basically, is why I have not gone into releasing album.
Are you saying that you are not considering releasing an in future, given the fact it could get the needed revenue?
We are working towards sanitizing the industry, and putting a structure such that when you release an album, you will be able to earn more and make more profit, by getting money from your download, your ring back tunes and streaming legally. The era of releasing album and waiting for pirates to take over it and paying some amount has past. Now, everywhere around the world you make billions from your sweat, from your creative ideas. That’s what we are trying to get going. Once that is done, we have a whole lot of songs that we wrote that we have not released, I remix of these songs then we go back to the studio and chunk out more, because then, I know that the songs that are coming out or the albums that are being released, can take care of monetary resources. Your fans would perhaps be eager to hear of your hit tracks such as Bolanle and Monica….
How has it been being in charge of the affairs of PMAN in the last few months?
I am looking into that but as I said, we won’t do anything musically now until we’ve been able to to achieve this structuring that we’re trying to do, because even if we do it now, we’re not going to make any impact only by playing in concerts. But if we do it when the musical structuring is done, in the digital space, then anywhere they release the work or listen to it, we would get paid for that. Once that happens, trust me, the next day I would go to the studio to do a remix it.
How long would it take to put thus structure in place?
We’ve been able to build a solution that monitor and regulate that. So we are waiting for government to act on it; add its own power, endorsement, that will enable the whole of the industry align and work towards that restructuring stuff, digital space. To be sincere with you, physical end don’t sell anymore; nobody sells CDs anymore. The plants are shutting down, and they are changing to other businesses. So, we are left with downloads, streaming and ring-back tunes. Today, we are talking about websites that sell music. So, if we can regulate and monitor that, and we know that that revenue from that aspect is coming back to our pockets, we are good to go. And that is what we are working on. We are actually at the stage of getting it done. And once that is done, the next week, I will be in the studio and working on the remixes and the songs.
What did you miss most about Junior as a colleague and group member?
Junior, I can tell you, is one of the most creative and most talented musicians in Nigeria. He was a song writer, composer, master of ceremonies (MC), and a comedian. One thing I missed most about him, is his attitude towards life. I am an introvert, in the sense that I am just ‘me, my book and my laptop’. But Junior was an extrovert, he likes hanging out with people, social life and so on. That is one aspect of him that I missed, because even if I don’t want to go out, he drag me out.
How has it been being in charge of PMAN since October 2016?
It has been a tug of war in the sense that we inherited a problematic PMAN, but we’ve been to reactivate it. Problematic in the sense that there were factions before we came in, and when we came we found out that some people sold PMAN properties. We were able to lay our hands on some of those ones and fix it back. Some people are arrested and were charged to court. But the main goal for us is to bring sanity into PMAN, and showing that the younger ones can move the industry forward. If you look at out excos now, I am actually the oldest. So, we’ve been able to have meetings and partnership with corporate bodies, including banks. Recently, I was appointed into the Technology and Creativity Board of the Vice President. That means we are making serious impact, for the Vice President to recognise and you on board, to talk about and work to get things done for the country. PMAN has also engaged the National Assembly on the Bill on why the Telcos should be taking 30% of our money instead of taking 70%, which is what they are doing now. It was PMAN’s initiative. The major thing is we are transparent in what we are doing; we are sincere with our dealings; we are showing everybody how it is supposed to be done.
What is your opinion about the music industry today, especially, the lyrics?
If you listen to our songs, we talk about the ills in the society. But get-rich-quick syndrome is what is causing all this. Also, politicians getting entertainers involved in their dirty politics, when they’ve given you a whole lot of money to do their campaign, in your next studio work how do you have the guts to criticize them? What is the association doing to address this? We have been doing town hall meetings, doing state chapter conferences to educate them that as a musician, as a talented person, a producer or director, you are the king. You decide and set the pace of the industry. Your talent is your weapon to address the ills of the so futile
We hardly read about you and women…
Is it that you have phobia for women or… I was disciplined growing up. I never dated two girls. I had a girl friend at a time. Also, I am an introvert. I think and work alone than do or I talk. Every money I spend, I have need for it. So the priority is, do I want to have this money and spend it with a girl friend or I want to spend it on the kids, or invest it in their future or build businesses. The fact still remains that, what is the backlash is I allow myself to get dirty to that extent. A whole lot of peolle don’t even know what womanising and changing women does to your destiny, to your future and to your wellbeing. And because I learnt about it at a tender age I applied it, and I have been applying it from that time till now. Not I don’t like women or that I am not pushed to going out with them sometime, but I can’t because the damage is greater than the gain or joy. That is my restraint.
How was growing up like?
I am from Orlu in Imo State, I was born in Ajegunle. I grew up in Adeolu area. Ajegunle, I was born there but I refused to get stained by the ills that area, in terms of the attitude and lifestyles. I am perhaps, the only musician, that does not smoke or drink or womanize. Not because I don’t have the money or the influence or the time, but because I trained myself that I don’t want peolle to see me as one of those wasted kids. That has guided me till now.
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