In the realms of music production, vocalising, songwriting, a revelation of the word, musical performance and energy, no one could ever deny that FloRocka is 100%. Samsung Awarded producer of the year, AMVCA 2015 Nominee for best sound editing for the movie, ‘ The Antique’, and a creative credited by MTV BASE for his excellence, it is an undeniable fact that FloRocka is musical perfection personified.
There was nothing more outstanding than when vocalist cum super producer FloRocka’s single ‘You Are Lord’ topped the charts on ourstage.com, winning a $1000 prize! I absolutely loved his feature on Pita’s ‘No Evil’, with his amazing voice taking an operatic turn at the bridge, accompanied by the piano singing the line ‘I will dwell in the secret place of the most high God now and forever’. And how could I ever forget the nation’s favourite, ‘Twale‘ which was such a ubiquitous hit on the Nigerian streets and beyond.
With over 6 albums to his name, including ‘Another Christmas According to FLOROCKA’, ‘The OverFLO’ ‘Sanctioned‘, ‘The Worship Sessions (CD 1 & 2)’ , ‘The Impressions’and the piano album, ‘Pianissimo’, and over 24 years in music production, FloRocka is an authority in music, worthy to be called a mentor!.
He is definitely a role model for every aspiring gospel musician with sublime spiritual depth, love for language and oratory making this my best interview yet!
1. With your virtuoso musical abilities, I have no doubt in my mind that you must have had an incredibly adventurous childhood. Please give an overview of life growing up music-wise and how you developed your sound?
Flo: Indeed I had a very interesting and adventurous childhood! Every single memory of my childhood I relish with such great delight! Lol. Growing up was so much fun. I can remember watching every single musical video there was whilst I was just six years of age. From the popular Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, to Elvis Presley, Sound Of Music all the way to The King And I, my musical ingenuity was constantly being informed. My father was a lover of music. He had every single musical genre I can remember, in his arsenal. He was a music director, multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, composer, arranger and an Architect to top the list. My mother sang at the opera whilst maintaining her day job as a banker. All my father’s siblings are actors and songwriters, so I guess it was inevitable that I would at a point in time express my musical prowess. I started producing music as far back as the early 90’s. I had a knack for morphing sound and as such I began working in a studio in Ibadan. A few years into my admission into Ogun State University for Law, I got the opportunity to work with the then Legendary Nelson Brown who had countless achievements to his credit. Then I met Foster Zeeno whom I took to instantly. After working with him as a trainee for about a year and a half, I traveled to the United Kingdom to further my Production and Audio Engineering skills; SAE Institute to be precise. The rest.. is history!
2. You are one of the best performers in gospel music and your creativity stands you out. How do you keep on reinventing yourself?
Flo: To be quite honest, I have an insatiable desire for PERFECTION. I detest mediocrity with a passion. I have a GLOBAL outlook to life and that has injected itself into all that I do as both a Producer and an Artist. Excellence isn’t something you wish for. It is a feat you work towards without relenting. I study all my works, CONSTANTLY looking for errors and imperfections as well as repetitions. I am a strong critic of my works. I constantly study the errors of my contemporaries, not their strengths. My mother had long ago whilst growing up as a teenager taught me the advantage of a SWOT analysis. I have ever since been an addict of this analytical mode of operation and thinking. Having a GLOBAL mindset is one which takes a lot of ‘conscious’ effort, constantly perfecting the art of eroding my flaws musically. I have an anointing that supersedes all I have ever learnt at Audio Engineering school. But I must confess that there is a secret to my success as both a Producer and an Artist.. you’re not expecting I tell you? Lol. It then ceases to be a secret!
3. Please name your musical influences
Flo: I have quite a number of musical influences. Some of which are; Jeremy Camp, J Moss, Israel Houghton, William Murphy, Phil Colins, Kevin ‘Babyface’ Edmonds, Timbaland, Joe Cocker to mention a few.
4. I think your song writing is magnificent. How did you develop and how do you keep on sharpening that skill?
Flo: There is an Art to Songwriting. Writing a song with the hope of making a hit is a ‘defeatist’ mentality. A good Songwriter is ‘Trans-generational’. If your songs don’t outlive you, then you have only succeeded in failing. I seek the face of God when I intend to compose any song. I consider him to be the most creative writer that exists. I mean, think of the code he used in creating the melodic structures of the wind; the harmonic subtleties he embedded within the wind pipe of every specie of bird! It would amount to severe foolishness of thought to ever exclude God from any process of Songwriting, especially if you plan to have such a song outlive you!
5. Given your amazing degree in sound engineering could you expand on the importance of a music education for a fulfilling career in music to encourage and motivate Nigerian musicians to pursue formal music education?
Flo: I cannot underscore the importance of Musical Education. Any individual who is serious about Music should receive some sort of musical enlightenment. Talent is not enough. We live in a world filled with individuals who possess diverse expressions of raw musical artistry. What stands you out is not your gift or talent, but the application of it thereof. To be UNIQUE is to discover your ZING; a mode of expression which is both compelling and outstanding. Musical Education helps to ‘polish’ your talent. Spending time with your talent will only show you how to express it – not how to manipulate it to the point of a mastery of the same. Look at it this way; plantain is beautiful to the sight, but as attractive as it looks, the power of compulsion lies in the ‘tasting’ thereof. When fried, there is a form of conviction that is birthed which can never ever be gotten by merely looking at it raw. When refined, your musical talent has the capacity to become an ‘edifice’, a force of compulsion that can never be overlooked or denied.
6. Could you explain the importance of rightly dividing the word of truth in a gospel artiste’s lyrics to achieve wholesome music?
Flo: 2nd Timothy 2:15 has been grossly misconstrued by quite a number of professed ministers of the Gospel. The word of truth is, as it were, a road which is to be laid out straightly and truly without any ‘grey’ area. It is quite difficult to have the capacity to ‘rightly divide the word of truth’ without adequate investment in the word of God. The word ‘study’ connotes the devotion of time and attention to acquiring knowledge on an subject, a detailed investigation and analysis of a subject or situation. A minister of the Gospel who purely thrives on the art of talent exposition is one without wisdom and creative tact. Music is the only entity with the power to invade the spirit of anyone without their permission; hence a minister in songs who is devoid of knowledge, revelation and truth will only be entertaining the ear lobes and drums of his or her listeners. To study your craft or gift is to come into the purpose and understanding of why it was allocated to you in the first place. Failure to understudy and understand the purpose of one’s talent is do die whilst fully alive. A careful study of the ‘giver’ of the ‘gift’ will rightly point the ‘carrier’ of the gift in the path of truth. It’s really that simple.
7. Please could you explain how prayer helps one become better musician?
Flo: Prayer is powerful. Although much is said in the scriptures about praising the Lord with music, there must be discernment, since not all music is praiseworthy or suitable for worship. That is where PRAYER finds expression. Just as the Bible is important for teaching us about who Jesus is, what He has done for us and who we are in Him, so also is prayer a key part of building a deeper and abiding relationship with God. When we read the Bible, God speaks to us. When we pray, we speak to God. Prayer gives us the opportunity to commune with God in a state deeper than a conversation. Prayer is also a way to acknowledge who is really in control of our lives. I must state at this juncture that learning ‘how to pray’ is more important, less we pray amiss. It is easy to pray amiss when your soul has been fed with worldly ambitions, aspirations and goals. A musician who hasn’t learnt to give his music FIRST to God is a musician that intends to ‘hustle’ in the true sense of the word. Skill can only get one so far.
8. Please share with us on how fatherhood and family life has impacted on your music?
Flo: Being a Father and family man has impacted me in ways I cannot even begin to elucidate upon. When I had my first daughter, my relationship with God took a beautiful turn. I learnt forgiveness, patience, love, the beauty of listening and above all the advantage of simplicity of words. My children have taught me the importance of ‘avoiding pretense’ when having a working relationship with God. I’ve learnt over the years the difference in God working ‘with’ you and ‘through’ you. Family has taught me LOVE in a way that supersedes feelings and mood swings. I guess my family has more influence on my music than even I can tell.
9. Working with world class musicians definitely means one thing: you have the indispensable skill of handling different personalities in both high and low tension situations. Tell me about how you developed this skill
Flo: Possessing the indispensable skill of working with different personalities in both high and low tension situations has been a rare privilege for me. People are unique but musicians are ‘special’. Why? You are working with three personalities at once; the musician, his talent and the expression(s) of his talent. Some musicians catch up fast whilst some musicians could use up days to get the same result. Most times I approach every musician like a baby. I pay close attention to the ‘purpose’ behind them wanting to birth their song. I try all I can to understand their music ‘temperaments’. Some musicians are very passionate whilst some are just singing for the purpose of financial validation and public awareness. I also wear the capo a ‘manager’ most times because I must learn to manage the ‘expectations’ of these gifted people. Working with any musician isn’t as easy as most people think. As a great producer you must posses the ability to understand what the musician isn’t saying – That right there is where the work really lies. That ability to birth what a musician cannot say is a rare gift. It separates the boys from the Fathers of Music – That skill, I have successfully honed.
10. Could you expatiate on the importance of diligence in the development of one’s musical abilities?
Flo: Every musician must possess the ability to be persistent, diligent and meticulous. One major problem with a lot of Nigerian ministers of the Gospel is that ‘attention’ to detail. Excellence is one word that has developed diverse financial implications within the Nigerian Gospel scenery. Many musicians don’t think 15, 20, 30 years from today. They focus on what they can get ‘off’ the exercise of their music rather than the ‘effect’ of what their music can birth. Some ministers of the gospel are lazy because they have restricted their expressions of music to the CHURCH. The ability to be persistent and consistent through all seasons is also another problem for many. A diligent musician will pay close attention not just to his or her music, but to the IMPACT and or EFFECT of same. Excellence is a GLOBAL language, not a Nigerian language. You cannot use the standards of the Nigerian Music Industry as a blanket for a GLOBAL STAGE! Far from it!!!
11. Please could you give 5 performance tips for an aspiring gospel musician
Flo: Five performance tips I recommend for any aspiring Music Minister of the Gospel would be thus; (a) Prepare before you minister any song, (b) Understand the atmosphere of the event you intend to minister at, (c) Don’t aim to make everyone happy whilst you minister – It’s an uphill task, (d) Build your song(s) on the word of God, Finally, (e) Keep your spirit connected to the Holy Spirit whilst you minister in songs – not on the validation you might receive from the congregation whilst you minister.
12. Please leave a parting word for your fans
Flo: I love my fans to bits and I promise never to never disappoint with any of my projects!!! There’s so much more to Florocka than you know! I am an unveiling book!