We had a chance to talk to Olugbenga Adelekan, also known as Olugbenga. He is a Nigerian-born music producer and also the bass player in Metronomy. He talks to us about how his music is going to change the world ahead of Park Acoustics.
How do you manage being a solo act, as Olugbenga, and also having to balance a music career within Metronomy?
Well, I suppose the truth is that I don’t balance it – when we’re on with Metronomy, that’s my main focus. I might do some mixtapes and remixes on the back of the tour bus every once in a while, but the OLUGBENGA project essentially goes into cold stasis when I’m touring with the band. This is doubly the case now that I have a kid.
You’ve lived in Lagos, The Hague and London. How have your travels influenced your music?
Through osmosis more than anything else. London and Lagos particularly are hubs for so many scenes that there is no one kind of music you would pick up from being in either city. My horizons have become broader because I’ve been exposed to so many different kinds of people from so many different parts of the world.
When I was in the Hague, that was a little different. I went to an international school and my family attended an American church. This was the first time living in Europe and I was eight years old. So, between MTV and my friends at school I became aware of things like rock music and techno for the first time. I began playing video games for the first time in Holland too, and the soundtracks to Super Nintendo games like F Zero, Super Mario Kart and Donkey Kong Country also left an indelible mark.
We always think about things like, “How can we use street style photography to change the world?” or things like, “How can we use festival coverage to change the world?” so we’re going to a pose a similar question to you because we believe that there’s always something you can do to improve peoples’ lives in the areas that you are passionate about. I ask you, “How can we use music to change the world?”
Music can spread ideas. Not just literally in song lyrics or titles, but in the attitudes of artists and the environment they create at their shows. Some artists say explicitly that their shows are safe spaces for women, gay or transgender people. Some even go as far as setting up hotlines or email addresses so people at shows can message someone in their team immediately if they see something messed up happening. I think that’s great.
I also think it’s great for artists to talk about their politics, whatever they may be. It’s also tough to do that in a social media age where people get outraged by pull-quotes without taking the time to consider the full context.
Even though Metronomy is by no means an overtly political band, we’ve still taken flak from time to time for things like voicing support of Francoise Hollande.
Nevertheless, I think comments artists make in interviews or things they put into their music can start people (young people especially) thinking, or open them up to new experiences. And that eventually changes some minds. Or gives people the courage to voice what was already in their minds.
We feel that a personal motivating factor, albeit a superficial one, is that we want to create music to leave a legacy. To be able to materialize something in this life that lastingly affects people. Would you say legacy is a motivating factor for you?
Well, I’m only 34 years old so I can’t say I think about legacy too much. But I do sometimes wonder what will become of all the music I have sitting on various hard drives around the world (including those of Soundcloud and Apple!). So much of what I’ve done with my solo project has not seen physical release.
Sometimes when I finish a song or DJ mix, I think “well, two days ago this thing didn’t exist… and now it does.” The act of creation is a very powerful one. It’s still the one thing I take most satisfaction from.
You’re here in South Africa. How do you think the Pretoria crowd is going to react to your music at Park Acoustics?
I have DJ’d quite at a few festivals now. I’ve gotten over that weird feeling of doing a DJ set in the open air rather than a smokey club. I just hope people are going to dance – it’s the most I ever hope for!
What does your ultimate musical success look like?
Documenting the sounds in your head. Getting them out of your head and into some kind of record. Moving from that final step from something that’s 75% finished to something you can listen to and feel is complete. Nothing to do with sales or accolades from others. Although those things are obviously very nice too!
When I was younger, my idea of ‘making it’ as a musician was the classic one. Sign a massive record deal, become rich and famous. As I’ve gotten older (and fame and riches remained elusive) I realised that I was fine just getting to spend all my time being creative and making a living. It was an incredibly liberating realisation.
Complete the sentence. Africa is…