Bold, sassy and lyrically controversial singer and songwriter, Nonso Ernessey, who does sensual music is set to drop his EP, Fruit Salad. In this interview the artiste, whose name Ernessey comes from a blend of Coke and Hennessey, talks about his beginnings and why he set out to create his music.
TELL me a little about yourself.
I was born May 28, 1993. I grew up in Oshodi, Lagos. I was actually born and bred in Oshodi, Lagos. I have a BSc in Computer Science from the Lagos State University and I’m the first of four children. I also started my career as a battle rapper, then I delved into mass communication basically. I got a job with Linda Ikeji TV. I started out as a TV host and producer. And then, I went ahead to pursue my musical career.
From computer science to TV host and now musician, how did this transformation happen, especially the music part?
Music has always been the number one thing. I’ve always loved to tell stories, hence the crime reporting. But then, I’ve always been the studio rat. I actually started out producing. I self-taught myself production.
So, when and where did music start for you?
For me, it started with music production. Like I was always crazy about how did the mixes happen? How do I link the keyboard? How do I make these keys come to life with the melodies I have up in my head? So, I started out with the piano playing. And then I started creating my own stuff with music production and what not. And that was how I started making my own music. It was basically out of curiosity for making the kind of music that I wanted because as at that time, people weren’t necessarily connecting with what I wanted to paint on the canvas. And so, I had to just, out of curiosity, go into production and make the kind of music that I want to make.
When did this happen?
This was like eight years ago, in 2010.
Give us a sneak into your upcoming EP, ‘Fruit Salad’. What’s it all about?
The concept around ‘Fruit Salad’ is actually making music that is actually sensual. You know, there’s this saying that ‘The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.’ So, I wanted to figuratively create something sensual.
But then, when I say ‘Fruit Salad’, I don’t mean it literally. I mean it figuratively, like, this is how you can get to a man’s heart, sensually. And then, having the confine of that concept ‘Fruit Salad’, we decided that every track in the album will be named after a fruit. That’s actually taxing my creative side to ensure that whatever I write plays by that rule.
So, you also write your lyrics
Yes, of course. I write all my songs. I like to tell stories and they are true stories that actually connect to things that have happened to me.
Now that you say songs are true stories that have happened to you, I’m curious about ‘Watermelon’. Right from the lyrics, is all about oral sex. In this part of the world, it’s a big deal.
I’m from the streets, right. And the kind of streets that I come from, the streets of Oshodi, there’ve been a couple of songs in that line that have been dropped but they’re either classified as ‘razz’ or ‘too local.’ So, I decided to do something in that direction with a little poetry to it. Something that you can listen to and say, ‘okay, it’s kinda raw but it’s classy.’ And besides, the brand of my music is sensual.
When you say sensual now… a track like ‘Watermelon’, has the radio accepted it?
No, of course not… If you play it on Beat FM, it’s in the night. One time, it was played in the night. Then, I’m always getting reviews from OAPs that ‘give us radio-friendly ‘Watermelon.’ And my response back to them is ‘If this is not going to be played on the radio station, then fine, I really don’t have a problem with that.’ The video is actually in the works and it’s going to be out soon. It’s going to be played on cable. I’m very much sure that it would be banned on terrestrial TV. (Laughs) But then, I just want to create that effect.
When you decided to leave your job as a producer and TV host for an ‘uncertain’ future as a musician, did you get oppositions like people around you that felt like you shouldn’t have taken such a step?
The thing is, everybody around me, everybody I’ve worked with, everybody I move with, my bosses and what not, actually knew about the music. I’m sure they knew somehow that someday, it was going to happen; like it or not, hate it or love it. So, when that opportunity came through and I told them, okay, it’s time to do what I really have to do right now, they gave me their full support. And at the end of the day, you should ensure that your dream come true. You should chase your dream. Don’t let nobody dream for you. This was what I’ve always wanted to do. Uncertainty or certainty-wise, I’m really positive about making this happen.
Are you single, married, or divorced?
So, are you in a relationship at the moment?
No, it’s just basically about the music right now.
When you sing sensual music, you must have a lot of female fans
The music is the music and whatever comes with the music… it’s left for me to decide whether or not I want to let it get in the way or let it make or mar me. So, whenever female fans come through, I treat them with love and care because at the end of the day, I make music for the majority of women.
So, what’s a crazy thing a female fan has ever done to you?
She left her panties in my purse. And then I was going to reach out for something later on and I was like, ‘I knew it was this chick that did this.’