|In this interview, British/Nigerian-born rising star, Lola Rae who was on Britain’s Got Talent, reveals a little about her childhood, education, relationship, love for Wizkid, encounter with Ice Prince and many more.
Tell us, who exactly is Lola Rae?
I am Funmilola Rachel Garton and my stage name Lola Rae. I am a product of a mixed union-British father and Ghanaian mother. So, I am Nigerian, Ghanaian and British.
How can you be a Nigerian when none of your parents is Nigerian?
My mum is a Ghanaian and my dad, English and they both lived and worked in Nigeria for 50 years. They met and got married here. My dad insisted that he wants to die in this country because he loves Nigeria and claims to be a Nigerian. My three sisters and I were born in Nigeria and we lived in the country for 15 years. We all have Nigerian passports and this is the only country that I really know, that was why I go by the name Funmilola Rachel Garton because I am a Nigerian. I was born in Obalende, Lagos and I am proud to be a Nigerian.
So, when did you move out of Nigeria?
I was born in Lagos. I lived in Nigeria for about 15 years then moved to Ghana for one year before moving to the UK. The move was for educational reasons because I had my primary education at the St. Saviours School and my secondary education at Lekki British International High School, Lagos State. I later moved to Ghana for a year because my grandma was sick and I eventually relocated to England for my university education
How did music start for you?
When I moved here I joined a dance group called Myztikal after a few years we then decided to spontaneously go on the British TV Show ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ but this time we thought let’s jazz it up by adding vocals while dancing (No one had heard me sing prior to this may I add). We got into the semi finals and got signed to Syco for a year. I would have to say it was an amazing experience and to this day I am still grateful to my group, my choreographer especially and Simon Cowell. Anyway, I had always loved to be a great singer. Despite the fact that I was signed to a record label in England, I still had it at the back of my mind that I don’t want to live in England. My mum advised me to leave the record deal and go back to Nigeria since I had made up my mind to relocate to Nigeria. Along the line, I met a guy called Rotimi, who started training me for Nigerian music and as a result of that, I released a video entitled “Watch my Tingo,” which is doing well in the industry. Although, I do jazz purposely because you are going to see a lot of soul and jazz stuff in my songs, but I am more comfortable in Afro Pop.
Who are your role models?
I love Asa and Lagbaja and lots of old school songs. I could regard them as my role models. In fact, I really love Lagbaja’s music; he used to come to my parents parties without his mask. He used to be a family friend. Although, I can’t remember his face again because at that time’, I was a baby, but my dad promised he would arrange it for us to meet and I am still waiting for the day.
So, are you finally back in Nigeria?
I am always here any day, I only went to England for my university education and that was the main reason I went there and now, I am done. I studied Fashion at Central St. Martin’s College of Arts and Design. It was very hard, but I thank God for the success story. Obviously, with my deep experience, I make all my clothes and performing outfits myself. I am bringing all I have learnt over there to Nigeria.
How do you feel about your music now?
To the glory of God ‘Watch my Tingo’ has close to 100,000 views on YouTube. It is such an overwhelming feeling; I am so thankful to God and everyone, who has gone to watch it. Sometimes, I refresh the page to make sure I’m not seeing different things to be honest.
What is the concept of 17, 18, 19 in your song, can you explain it?
You know when you see a woman and her bottom is moving in a particular motion while walking, it actually moves n sync with the phrase ’17, 18, 19 gbagada’. It’s hard to describe but trust me the next time you see a lady walking you’ll notice it. I actually picked it up from School here in Nigeria.
Who do you consider to be your biggest competitor among all the female artistes in Nigeria?
I really don’t believe in competition simply because as an artiste you learn from your fellow artistes. Also if you have that type of mindset sometimes it could cloud your initial vision and you may end up at the wrong destination. I feel like adding to what the likes of Tiwa Savage, Seyi Shay, Omawuni, Waje and a host of others have been doing so well in the entertainment industry. It is a way of making a statement in a distinctive dimension and discharging my God-given talent right from my tender age. I am 22 years old and I am willing to showcase my talent as well as make the young ones realise that they have got one talent or the other to create jobs and opportunities.
To me, the experience is really good. You see, Nigeria is a very difficult country, because we don’t really have a structure at the moment. Music, especially at the main stream, is very new to us so we are all trying to create a structure. It is difficult, because sometimes you will want to give out the best of you but there is no room for such which makes it interesting. I strongly believe that the entertainment industry will find its place in terms of structure in no time, and we will not relent to attain a well structured system. I am 100 per-cent ready to face the music and the many challenges I may encounter. I have nothing to fear about. I was born here in Nigeria and I am used to the system because I was in this for so long. At present, I am launching my coming back with a big bang. I am really thrilled to carve a niche for myself and affect the industry positively. My management is taking necessary steps to stamp my authority in the industry.
You have been linked with Wizkid, how are both of you faring?
Oh my God! I only admire Wizkid because of his age and type of music. He is doing well and I would only love to be his version in the female side because I am about the same age with him.
Tell us more about your love for Wizkid?
It’s nothing that serious. It’s simple. Just as Wizkid could be described as the young chap who is making waves in the entertainment scene, especially among the male counterparts, I want to represent the Wizkid of the female fold in the industry too. He started as a kid and I also want to start as a kid.
Are you still single?
I really do keep my private life private, but all I can say is my main focus is my music.
But if you have a chance to date Wizkid, would you?
(Laughs) I only have eyes for my music. Relationship for now is a different ball game. Even though Wizkid is cute and any lady’s dream, I really feel one has to be careful before going into anything serious for now.
Does Wizkid fit into the description of your kind of man?
I don’t know what to say about that seriously. But he is a cool young man that any lady would like to associate with.
What do you find precious about Wizkid?
Well, the question should be about his music. So, if I have to answer it should be about his music. I love his music.
How and where did you meet Iyanya?
The Kukere Master, we met through our managers actually, they are very good friends, and he happened to be in the country while we were filming the video and I thought if ‘I’’m talking about ‘Finna to wind my waist’ Iyanya and Emma Nyra have to be there.
What is your relationship with Ice Prince, are you dating?
We are cool friends and we are not dating. I don’t know why people feel you are dating the next guy the moment you are with him.
How did you meet him?
That is actually an interesting story; I went for his
concert in London and got introduced to him through a mutual friend. A couple of days later I got a call asking if I’d like to be in his video. I must admit I was scared because I didn’t want people to think I was a video girl but after hearing the song and falling in love with it I was like yeah, let’s do this.
What should we be expecting from you soon?
I would be doing lots of collaborations soon. I have featured Iyanya, Seli Bobo and Banky W who has always been advising me and a host of other artistes. I want Nigerians to be at alert and be on the lookout for my works. At present, I am working on two singles.
By OMOTOLA OLAIFA- ENTERTAINMENT EXPRESS