Tony Ogaga

Fast rising artiste, Made Kuti has bared it all. In this rare interview, he talks about music career, upcoming album, his mum, and of course, life as grandson of Afrobeat legend, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti.

How are you coping with the COVID-19 lockdown? 

I am following the news, trying my best to keep up with all the data and developments happening around the world, but I’m also trying to make the best out of the lockdown. I spend about 80% of my day practising and working on my album, which was pretty much my daily life before the lockdown. But I’m blessed because I’m surrounded by very loving family, so there’s no sense of solitude or loneliness during this period for me.

What is it like being Femi Kuti’s son and Fela’s grandson?

I’ve been asked this question at every juncture and turn of my life and my answer remains the same most of the time. I don’t know what it’s like to be anything else, so it’s my normal everyday life.

Tell us about your plan to drop an album 

There are many things going on at the moment for me. I’ve been in my father’s band for about two years now and that has taken me around the world already – from Australia to United States, Mexico and Brazil – the list is endless. We’ve played festivals, clubs, concerts… the experience will last me a lifetime, and I’m eternally grateful for it. With all this going on, I’ve been developing myself as a multi-instrumentalist, practicing everyday and trying to surpass my limits. One of the highlights of my upcoming album is that I’ll be playing everything myself – from the drums, to keyboard, guitar, horns… everything. We’re done recording and are working on a release date, which will be very soon.

You’ve been on tour a number of times. Could you share your most exciting moments on tour?

I honestly wish I could tell you but the weeks go by in a flash when you’re on tour. And there’s only one person in the band that I know who has the ability to keep track of all the venues and dates we played. We’ve been all over (the world) these past two years. But some of my favourites (shows) have been the ones we had at Royal Festival Hall, London and Sao Paulo, Brazil. There was also the show at Queens Hall in Scotland, then Jordan, and the one at Los Angeles with Coldplay was a very special experience. The concert in Australia with Public Opinion Afro Orchestra was also a very special one.

What is your relationship with your dad and what was the greatest advice he gave you?

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I owe my dad 90 per cent of everything good in my life and also everything good I achieve in future. Every child has obstacles at many stages of their lives, and surmounting them can be a matter of skill or even luck. In my case, I’ve been lucky to have someone at every stage of my life to give me a few words that hold immeasurable meaning whenever I needed it. One of such forms of knowledge he’s giving me is the will to strive for perfection, knowing full well that it’s unattainable. It’s kind of a paradox but it’s imbued with the deep moral values we share.

What does your mum mean to you and how supportive has she been of your career?

My mum is my biggest fan and supporter! She sees a lot of the business from a perspective I often miss because of the immense experience she has. I am learning and still have a lot to learn from my mother, and I know her guidance and support is vital to my career and life.

What is the greatest advice she has given you?

There are many, but I think if it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t be as conscious of what I wear or how I wear it; mum is my stylist!

How do people relate with you being a grandson of legendary Fela Anikulapo-Kuti?

Some people see me as proof of the strength of our heritage and the continuation of the legacy. Some people are just curious of what I invent musically, and some people are very uninterested.

You are very good with the piano. Why piano and not any other instrument?

That understanding is only partially accurate. I play five musical instruments and two of them I play in my dad’s band. I play the bass, sax, piano, drums, and trumpet. I’d love for interested readers to check out my Instagram page, but I’ve temporarily closed it down for focus.

You are young and handsome, how are you handling your female fans?

(Laughter) My fan base is not quite like that. Most of the people interested in me are just interested in my music and socio-political views.