What is the secret to continual relevance? How does an artiste hold his own after a decade even without the biggest song in the country? All these were going through my mind as I ponder on the music industry and the disappearance of some its former big hitters. Enter the immigration officer who had collected my passport for verification and clearance to proceed into the Republic of Benin. I was in Benin for a music event over the weekend and luckily for me, so was Jaywon. How perfect, I thought. Just the person that fits the plot in my head. I’ve followed Jaywon’s metamorphosis since “filebe” under the aegis of Kennis Music.
Great voice, great energy and very open persona. Could these alone have contributed to his continual relevance or is there more than meets the eye?
I sat down with the self-proclaimed ‘Oba Orin’ over a glass of champagne, chatting about his music, persistent relevance and evolution
What are you working on lately?
We just released “Aje”. It’s a different kind of song entirely and it has to do with to do with the current situation happening in the country. Everyone is tired, everyone feels they deserve more, that’s why Aje is driving them crazy. My music always has to do about people, not necessarily about me – People’s current situation or past situation. I feel I am more open and creative when my music has a lot to do with lifestyle of the people.
Are the rumours about you working on a pan-African album true?
I have an album I have been working on, but it is too huge and not the kind of album i can rush (I am talking about the album that features adage from different people part of the world; Zeynab from Benin Republic, Shadow Chris from Ivory Coast, Loco from Cameroon and lots more in this album.) I’m taking my time.
Do you have a name for it and when should we expect it?
There’s no name for it yet, the album will feature 7 people from different countries and I plan to shoot videos for it all.
I can’t say exactly when yet, but it will be 2019. Keep your fingers crossed.
I’ve followed your growth since 2004/05. You have somehow, found a way to stay relevant in an industry where even the biggest hitters can quickly disappear. How is this possible?
The only reason why I am relevant is because the music is more than a business to me – it’s a way of life and you can’t stop me from living my life.
If I considered the negative part of the business or the negative lifestyle that comes with the business, I most likely would have disappeared. But because it is my lifestyle that is the reason my music is more of people day to day struggles and reality. And that is why the music always motivates people.
Does the name Saro have anything to do with the Saro people who emigrated from Freetown, Sierralone?
Saro is a name, in some other countries they call them Sarah. Saro is a name of a lady that I thought I was in love but it was infatuation. I am very lovely person and I am allowed to be loved. I am a Jehovah witness brought up.
Do you have a Saro love in your real life?
I’m a very loving person (laughs). Honestly, music is my love for now. Music is the only thing that has never disappointed me. If you find that thing in your life that is very special to you and doesn’t disappoint you, stick to it.
Nigeria is finally on the world stage, what do you think you can do to your music to take it to that stage?
Nigeria has always been on the world stage. Africa has been on the world stage. The thing is we don’t even realize what we have ourselves. We always need assurances from outside. Take Nigeria for instance, we are in Cotonou right and the only people whose music they play on their Tv’s in their original language are Nigerians.
We are already international. For me, the only way to be international is to be yourself, for me to be international I need to be myself, sing my way, express my way. If you it well, the world will come to the rising of your light.
Concerning Joromi, there were lots of rumors about court cases, how did it go?
My own Joromi has nothing to do with Sir Victor Uwaifo “Joromi” and that’s why it was a rumour. I am a very creative person and I don’t take it likely when people take me for granted. What I am trying to say is I don’t take what is not mine. My own song was “Jomi Joromi” not “Joromi” but it was because I have a record close to what they were fighting for that’s why the rumours popped up. Nothing like court case.
Which one of your song is your favorite?
I have never been a fan of my music until now, but I can tell you categorically my favourite song is “Aje” because it is personal and it has a lot to do with people’s experiences. That being said, sone of my favourites is “This Year”.
You have a good relationship with almost everyone in the industry, how important and how have you managed to build that relationship?
I just know how to respect myself. I tell people the only time to respect people is when you respect yourself. Respecting people only means you are respecting yourself. Everybody is my colleague.
Looking back to when you started n now, would you ever imagine that the Nigeria music would be so on a big stage that we are now?
I have always known that the Nigeria music will take over the world. We’ve been on the world stage in terms of originality. We are getting close to takeover. We are not there yet but we will get there.
From your point of view, what else do you think we need to adjust?
Right now, I think all we need to look into is our contents, we must make more meaningful and timeless music.
Let’s talk about Davido and Wizkid just a little bit, there’s always this “Ronaldo-Messi” argument about them. What is your take?
There’s always two people like that in the world. there was a time it was Ebenezer Obey and King Sunny Ade. We are always enjoying the drama, we love the drama and sometimes we don’t want it to end because it makes them to be creative and make more meaningful records.
How is your relationship with Baba Keke Ogungbe presently?
He is my daddy and he will always be a father. Respect is eternal.
Let’s talk about record labels and artistes. How do you think artistes or labels need to safe guard themselves from huge disagreement situations?
One of the best things to do to safeguard yourself is to respect your contract and be respectful first because a lot of people listen to people that advise them wrongly. Surround yourself with positive minded people. Contracts don’t always have to be do or die. I’ve had my own running with artistes as well. It’s a matter of respect and right advice.
Let’s talk about style, what is your go to style?
I don’t like to do too much, I just like to be easy. Easy does it for me.
Looking into the future, where do you see yourself?
When you talk about the future, I am thinking of tomorrow; we are going to be here for so long. The only reason I am still here is because of God and my fans.