“I always argue when people say they sell out shows. Who bought these tickets? People don’t like what you do much.”
“It is rare to see me do something like the Gidi Culture Festival. So rare that when calls like that come in, my management…(laughs).”
With Brymo, there’s always the pursuit of excellence. From his days at Chocolate City to his solo moments as the best songwriter in Nigeria (self-acclaimed, but does it really matter?), Brymo’s insistence on the qualitative offering of music in recorded formats and live experiences have been unparalleled.
We are at the Pulse Nigeria studio, sharing a laugh and discussing the culture. Brymo, wearing a black and rather mystic-looking kaftan, is slated to be a headline artist at Nigeria’s most prominent music Festival, the Gidi Culture Fest, which holds on March 30, 2018. He is a headline performer at the concert which has a healthy mix of pop and niche genre performers. Wizkid, 2face Idibia, Adekunle Gold, and SDC are also slated to perform a set.
Brymo has 45 minutes on stage, to thrill fans with his band. But for followers of the singer, this isn’t enough time. A minimum requirement for Brymo when he hits the stage is 90 minutes, with the arsenal of hits scarcely exhausted when he is done. He has become popular in Lagos concert culture, for his live series special, tagged ‘Organized Chaos’. He says a new edition will be announced soon.
“This time is around, by the reputation Gidifest has, they do it well. I still do the same things on stage, but they handle every other aspect especially,” he says.
Brymo has always held the art of performance to a high standard. Backed by his 13-piece band – The Lagos Touts – he comes alive on stage.
Unlike buying a computer, paying for a Brymo concert means buying a ticket to an emotional experience. Whether it's the supreme classy turn up of the Eko Hotel venue or the emotional and historic transcendence of Freedom Park, you're paying to feel something fundamentally intangible.
And that product is always delivered. All you feel is joy, happiness, and the feeling that the music is purposeful and bigger than all of us. A sacred circle of trust was established in those venues, where the audience lifts up the artist and got to be lifted up in return, and so the promise of entertainment was not broken.
“I don’t know what the fans want from me,” he says. “That gave birth to how I started to make the performances a display. To have a great performance, you have to just perform. People are there to watch your performance, not be carried along,”
To achieve this, Brymo builds a set list and rehearses constantly with his band. On the day of his performances, the only difference between the rehearsal and the performance is the presence of an audience. They simply go through the motions, designed for days like that. “We just come and show you, people, how we rehearse, record and do our thing. People enjoy the spectacle of that because they get to really watch the performance.”
“Usually, half of the time, people always leave that place before they realize what has happened. Especially for people who aren’t core Brymo fans. They ask, is this guy on drugs?”
Brymo is regarded as one of the best live performers of his generation. Across stages all over the world, he has mesmerized fans with his sophisticated sets and energy. But that isn’t always the case for his colleagues. Nigerian music fans and concert-goers have a long history of complaints about the performance skill of numerous artists. Much of the comments on social media during any top concert is that the musicians fail to bring their best displays into the mix.
“95 percent of the time,” Brymo says about the non-performers. But he admits it doesn’t tell the full story “Because there’s always a niche of people who show up and get their job done.” These people, according to Brymo are experienced artists who have been around for “15 years, and some of them have been around for 10 years at least.”
It is these poor performances that create doubts about the commercial value of concerts in Brymo’s mind. “I always argue when people say they sell out shows. Who bought these tickets? People don’t like what you do much.”
Bad performances can be fixed, Brymo says, from the artists. He admits that since he began to make an effort in creating sophisticated and thrilling sets, he has achieved massive results. These include followership, an increase in his booking fees, and access to sponsorship. “Every time I say there’s a concert, people buy tickets. Nothing is more beautiful than that,” he says. “The fans want better, and they always ask. We can’t be called an industry until things like these become common.”
Brymo has a new studio album coming. The project is titled ‘Oso (The Wizard)’, and will be released on Tuesday, March 27, 2018. Gidi Culture Festival will hold on March 30, 2018, at the Hardrock Café Beach Front, Lagos.