I’m working hard to create new sound —Ruky Olotu

by Araayo Akande

Ruky Olotu participated in Project Fame in 2014 and emerged as the first runner up. She released an EP in 2018 titled ‘Brave Love’ and recently dropped ‘Vodoo Love’, a single. The up and coming singer shares her experiences and aspirations in this interview. 

Why did you take a break from music?

 There was so much going on with my life, so I wanted to define what I wanted to do and be sure. When I took a break, I was also trying to get a job on the side. While waiting for that, I just had to come back to what I love to do: music.

 What is the title of your latest single? 

 The song’s title is ‘Voodoo Love’. It was released about a month ago, and so far, people like it. It’s playing on radio stations, and it’s uploaded on YouTube. It has a few thousand views on Spotify as well. The streams are coming up gradually. Interesting enough, it is doing quite well. 

What kind of music do you play?    

 I want to define my music as Neo-Soul Afro-Pop. It is more of an eclectic sound that is still in touch with my grassroots, representing Africa in my sound.

 The music industry is saturated right now due to many people releasing different types of singles and albums. How do you intend to penetrate and make waves in the music industry?

 A lot of it is hard work, especially when you are an upcoming artist. I would say I have to find a way that defines me that is different from Tiwa Savage and Yemi Alade. I want it to be a new type of sound. I try to do things that are different too. That is why I took some time; I had to experiment with different sounds; I had to try not to sound like other artists even if I took inspiration.

 What are the different sounds? 

 The late Majek Fashek, we know he sings reggae, but he brought in paniolo rhythm. In that pangolo rhythm, he uses a talking drum. Other reggae artists don’t use talking drum. 

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What is the type of innovations you are bringing to make your sound different from Yemi Alade and co?

 The difference, I think, would be an infusion. We have the African, then soul, and there is still R&B. So, it’s going to be obvious because I love to infuse house music. As for this new song, it has Afro mixed with the house… 

 Talking about your kind of music, do you have a mentor in the music industry?    

  I like a couple of artists because they inspire my sound. It grows. Way back, it used to be Brandy, Whitney Houston, Beyonce. But now, I am getting in tune with the new sounds of artists like Jhene Aiko, Ceaser. Then I like her sound as well, Tems. 

Do you have challenges in the music industry?

 There are various challenges. It’s countless from finance to the current economic situation and the fact that you are upcoming. You have to put in lots of capital to move around and connect with the various key players. Once you click, you have to present your music to the world and say, okay, this is what I do. The challenge can also be getting people to like your music. 

 Is there a company promoting your music?

 Yes. We just began the journey to my second phase of music. I’m under the Excel Signature record label group. It is an independent label set up by my family. It is an art company that deals with artworks. We are into beautiful art designs you can use to decorate your offices, houses. We just set up the record label aspect of it.

 What are your aims and aspirations?

 I aspire to penetrate the homes and the hearts of music lovers around Africa and the world and to connect with them. They listen to my music and find solace, find comfort, happiness and some relief from my sound. 

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 Where do you hope to see Ruky in the next three years?

 Wow! I hope and pray to see my songs played around the world. I’m performing on several stages and getting invites to perform in various countries. I see my music going very far and people-loving/streaming it. That’s what I see. 

 After Project Fame, have you performed in any event?

 Yes. I have performed in a few. The most prominent I could remember is Felabration. There’s also this thing we used to do in Lagos – Artiste Night.

Do you intend to participate in any reality show anytime soon?

 No. I don’t think so because it is not aligned with my brand. Except if other circumstances come into play, and it works with my brand, I might change my mind. But so far, no.

Ruky Olotu

 What are your plans for the year? 

We would start with the promotion of the video for this song, ‘Voodoo Love.’ From there, we would try to key into some opportunities that come in. The most crucial part will be us promoting this music video and making other people aware. Then, we will be able to get more invites to perform in places that we would be happy to go.

 What do you do outside music?

 I do a bit of business marketing, promoting artworks to people who can appreciate good art.

Tell me about the other parts of Ruky apart from music? 

There is so much. I love to dance, and I love to act. I’m looking forward to showing the world that side of me. And then meeting people, making new friends.

 Any collaborations with any prominent artists?

Definitely. The likes of Burna Boy. Terms. I don’t mind working with Tiwa Savage.

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 How do you see the Nigerian music scene? Are we doing well?

 Very well. Compared to South Africans that is still doing nice, there is still something more original that we have been able to carve out for ourselves. It is inspiring and encouraging. I am proud of our culture and how we have taken Nigerian music to the world. It wasn’t like this before. After that, we just grew and grew and right now, we are going beyond our imagination. It’s nice.

 Do you think the government is doing well in promoting our entertainment? 

 Apart from the fact that we need the government to make Nigeria a better place, a comfortable country, and to be creative in our country, they need to also create a free, fair market where there is no too much taxation imposed on independent artists or record labels such that people can get their money back easily when they put in the work to get the music out. They can reduce the creative tax that they have. They also create ways to raise money, raise awareness, or create institutions or exhibitions where they can have a creative atmosphere like this stadium in Lagos, the art stadium, National Art Theatre, in Iganmu. It is a beautiful place; to make it a tourist centre where people want to travel to Nigeria to see the culture. If they can renovate and maintain it, it will be a perfect way that people can use. And then, of course, make the people who want to use the place let them have easy access.

Ruky Olotu

 What are your hobbies?

 Painting, even if it is an abstract expression. I love creating a get together where you will bring creative people together, and then you meet new people, and you do something out of it. I like to create an artistic environment where people come together and do something nice. I love creating gatherings; exhibitions.

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