[Interview] The Escapades of Novemba

Patrick Ezema
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Novemba’s music is playful one moment and tearjerking the next. The opener of his latest EP is titled Escape, and it undercuts the years of conditioning that society has placed on its youth, one that expressly forbids giving up and encourages you to keep trying even as the odds stack higher against you.

Novemba craves an escape from it all, to wake up one day and leave the struggle behind. One fan in particular took these words especially to heart, and he turned to the singer’s DM seeking an insight into the background behind the singer and his music. Being a music journalist, however, comes with its privileges, and I can bypass this medium and find out from the singer himself. Novemba’s responses are marked in bold and have been lightly edited for clarity. 

To my enquiry on the exact profile of his latest EP, he lists Adventure, real life, romance, sex. It’s a fine balance he strives to attain, making music that helps your body groove without being so empty that you cannot pick a lesson or connect with an emotion. He straddles the usual themes of love and sex, but as a differentiating factor, he throws in his vulnerability. He plies the common experiences of Nigerian youth — the paper chase, family pressure and sizzling romance into something stimulating, forcing you to join in his experience and attempt to see the world from his own eyes. 

But it isn’t all gloomy from the young star. Novemba is calm, goofy and great energy to be with, he says in response to a question about his character outside the studio. For music influences, he traces his interest in music back to his childhood days, revealing a family background that helped cultivate his palate from his early years. I grew up with a dad and Uncle that loved music, even my mum too. They made me listen to different types of music so growing up I consumed a lot of music. I basically grew up in front of the TV, he adds with a laugh. These early inclinations to music would not seamlessly sprout into a career though, as he soon faced his first stumbling block: I really wanted to get into the choir but I was rejected. 

Undaunted, he continued trying to get into music because, according to him, I had already told my parents I wanted to be a muscian when after watching Michael Jackson’s documentary way back in Primary six. Thankfully, his story here takes a swerve from that of many popular Nigerian stars, as he reveals his parents made no moves to stop him from following his passion. They just told me to make sure it doesn’t affect my schooling. It wasn’t always like that in the beginning, though. 

In 2016, I decided to follow music professionally, he says. He would, however, not release a debut EP until four year after, taking the time to master his craft properly. The singer is currently signed to Aristokrat records, most famed for formerly housing Burna Boy, and the young singer aims to follow in the superstar’s footsteps. Burna is one of my biggest influences. But I also get inspired by Wizkid, Davido, Chris Brown and my icon, Michael Jackson.

For artists he dreams of working with, the African Giant comes up a second time. Anyone doing great stuff is exciting to me, because good music is the goal and I’m down for that. There’s a whole lot of names to mention, but then there’s Burna. Seeing as they share a common genre — Afro-fusion, that would be an interesting link up to look forward to. 

As for immediate plans, he’s keeping things a little more realistic. Definitely I’m keeping my mind on an album but maybe one more EP before that happens. No hurries though, as his Escapade EP is only a month in the market, there will be some time before he is required to whet the appetites of his teeming fans once more. For now, we will consume his current project with all the enthusiasm it deserves, savouring the unique mix of sweet melody and poignant emotion that Afrobeats’ next big star has so kindly created for us. 

Patrick Ezema

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