In this interview with Joan Omionawele, Davido shares his experiences before fame came his way and opens up on his musical career, private life and plans for the future.
Before you became a big shot, what were those days of humble beginnings in the industry like?They weren’t easy – having to prove that you could do this, or that you could be big and sell records, and then not having people believe you or want to take a chance. I had some rough periods of even hungry days in the studio. Sometimes you got broke, but still just found one way or the other to pull through. I had plenty rough times.
What were your childhood days like?
I had a regular childhood. A whole lot of play and school, sometimes the play would just centre around music.
How did your dad feel about your decision to become a recording artiste?
He didn’t like it at first; but eventually a man understands a man’s need to do his thing and make a name for himself.
Did you drop out of school because you wanted to pursue your musical career?
Who says I dropped out? I’m in my third year in school.
How do you combine your music with your studies successfully? Has building a profession in music affected your studies in anyway?
It’s not been easy, but it’s working one way or the other. Being madly busy is not easy to cope with when you are studying; but it has no choice but to work out.
Why did you decide to go into music?
I was always going to do music as soon as I discovered my flair for it and I was working on sounds too in a studio and some of my friends used to say that I should just try doing my own thing. So, I took it up when I realised that I could actually make some decent sounds. I’ve always nurtured dreams of performing live, so it just had to be done.
Which musicians inspire you?
TuFace, PSquare and the Koko Master (Dbanj). Those guys are really something. The big things they’ve done in this industry are unforgettable. So, that’s my drive as well – to (make) a serious impact.
You travel a lot. Does your girlfriend not complain?
(Laughs) If you know say I get, and you sabi am, go ask am.
You mean you are not dating anyone now?
You must have a lot of ladies trying to get your attention. How has the reception from your female fans been like?
It’s crazy, coupled with the fact that I am young, and with girls in my age group too. Here in Africa and in Europe, the female fan base is wild. I really appreciate it. When guys are feeling you while you perform and also the girls are gingered and sometimes crazier about you, it’s cool.
We have had pictures of you in bed with various kinds of ladies. How has that affected your career?
If it has had any big effect on my career, I’m not sure I know about it, because I am still doing my thing and God still has my back. God did not allow some random act of one person who felt like fooling around to now spoil my career or ruin my image. Sebi they wanted to snap me (take my photograph)? They ‘snapped me’ and went their way…and my life goes on. That’s it.
What deals, endorsements, shows or recognition have you got that were quite memorable for you?
MTN of course. My first advert for MTN Pulse was a big deal for me. It was a great thing to be part of. Also, my shows all over Nigeria and performing in different states make me unable to decide which one is my favourite, seriously. You perform in a state and get mad love from the crowd; and then the next state is even crazier. And that’s how it just keeps going. So, my high points are those moments when my fans show dedication, and show me love like ‘Ah, you be our guy; you be our man, you know?
Which musicians do you dream of working with internationally?
It won’t be bad working with Pitbul, David Guetta, Sean Paul, and Nicki Minaj.
Your dad is wealthy and influential. Would you say his wealth has been a propelling factor in your career?
My father is wealthy, yes, and I am thankful to God for that. One way or the other, in my music career, there’s always a point where the gratitude goes to my father and always a point where my father’s wealth has been a useful factor. As for opening doors, well, maybe. But money is not everything and every part of it, behind the scenes of success is a lot of blood, sweat and tears.
If you were not a musician, what other career path would you have chosen?
Maybe a producer; but if you mean totally out of music, maybe one big businessman.
Reports say you were caught abroad spending fake money. How did that happen?
Go and ask the so called reporters whether na dem put fake currency for my hand. How does that even make sense? We were in Europe and spending good hard-earned money, even when the person we had a deal with was defaulting, and didn’t want to pay us. So it was just some rubbish they cooked up to spoil our names, and get away with breaking our contract. But of course, we don pass that one, so na dem sabi.
What’s the most expensive thing you have ever pampered yourself with?
My house! But if that doesn’t count as pampering, then maybe one of my Rolexes that the price tag can give somebody ‘Apollo’.
You have so many tattoos. Are you just following the trend or you’re doing your own thing?
I feel the need to ink my skin, so I do it. Simple. It’s my desire and that’s all.
What’s the craziest thing you have ever done on stage?
(Laughs) Nothing too wild; I just kissed a girl from the stage.
Some of your fans complain that you don’t have strong lyrics but only project the elitist life?
It’s what we need to drive the sounds; those kinds of lyrics are what the industry, as it is, is moved by. I can decide now to bring out the deepest of my emotions through lyrics. And you know, they will say Davido is boring.
In your dull moments, what do you do to get back in line?
I just make a mad beat, or take a trip to somewhere of interest.
How do you relax?
I go to the most exotic resorts and lounges in any country I’m currently in. Then sometimes I like to just (relax) with my headphones and just jam for hours, undisturbed.