interviewBy Amina Alhassan
Kelly Hansome is a songwriter, singer, producer, presenter and an entrepreneur, who is still making his mark on the Nigerian entertainment scene. He speaks to Weekend Magazine on his work and more.
You have come a long way in the entertainment industry, would you say you have achieved a break through?
It depends on your definition of break through, because for me I would say I have broken through in the entertainment industry and when you break through, you have to sustain it, which is what I am trying to do now.
Do you think the Nigerian identity has been well represented in the entertainment industry?
I would say yes and no. Yes, because to an extent we are trying to make good music, preserve our culture and languages and all that, but to a great extent we need to intensify the Nigerian identity through our music.
We just celebrated 2013, what would you say you accomplished in 2012?
2012 was a great year for me, because I accomplished a lot of things. I sealed up a lot of deals, got lots of contracts from the government, and I visited a couple of new places and met wonderful people. I also did business and as a musician I dropped a whole lot of songs. Though, I had to do a lot of behind the scenes, because I needed a break to focus on my business because the entertainment business in Nigeria is not as easy as many people see it. So, in a nutshell I accomplished a lot.
You just said the entertainment industry in Nigeria isn't easy. What are the challenges?
The entertainment industry in Nigeria is supposed to be one, but it is not. I am not talking about being one in terms of competition because the competition alone helps the industry to grow. When I say we are supposed to be one, I mean we should be one in mind. It is all about entertainment, we should always support each other not trying to pull each other down one way or the other. We need to grow out of taking things personal asides that we need to help ourselves. Take a look at the comedians; they help themselves in whatever little way they can. If one comedian is doing something, every comedian - even musicians - would support him or her, but why can't musicians support fellow musicians. The entertainment industry seriously has a problem and the cartel isn't helping matters...but that is something I don't want to talk about right now.
Earlier you talked about getting contracts from government. There is this trend of entertainers turning politicians; do we see you joining that trend soon?
Well, entertainers are like politicians, but it's just that in the industry everyone thinks that a politician is someone who has to have money to be involved in entertainment. Everything in this world is free; anyone can become a politician, it does not have anything to do with age, tribe or color. In every aspect of life, there must be someone in charge and that is politics and that is what life is all about. I am not a politician, but just because I am famous and popular and people know me, maybe I submit my proposal somewhere they will approve it. A lot of people want to give jobs, but they don't want to give to people who would mess them up, so they need to know you and when they know you are a public figure, they know you wouldn't want to mess up the job, because you fear your own reputation too. People want to give you N300 million but are afraid, because there is not trust. If they know you are a popular figure, they can afford to risk it, because if you vanish with their money, they can tell the world and it will at the end turn out to be a bad publicity for the entertainer. And they know people like me don't like stuff like that. So it has nothing to do with politics or loathe money or trying to be a politician. I am not a politician and will never be, but if I see people who are doing good, I make it known to people that they are doing good and if I also notice that they are no longer doing good I shut up.
Being a celebrity comes along with a lot of challenges. What is the hardest and the coolest part of being one?
For challenges, there are a lot. I can't really start telling you about them now, but they are numerous. The coolest thing about it is that people love you and want to associate with you. You always have the attention of everyone, I think that is one of the negative sides of being a celebrity. People always look out for whatever you are doing. You can never do the ordinary thing that every other person does, you are always on your toes never to be caught unawares.
Your name Kelly Hansome, is it your real name or a stage name. If it is a stage name, how did it come about?
The name is my performing name. Well my real names are Kelechi Obinna Orji Micheal Hans. Both of my grandmums call me names of my grandfather from both sides. The Hans is my father's name, but became Hansome when back in school most of my friends started adding 'ome' to my surname and that is how the Hansome without the d came about.
If you were not to be into entertainment, what would you have been doing?
I can't think of what I would have been doing, if I wasn't into entertainment. I would have been doing a lot of things, but still related to entertainment. I would have probably been a studio owner. I own a production company that has over 300 producers.
How well would you say you have managed your popularity status in the society?
I think I have tried a lot in managing my popularity status, but the thing in the industry is that I see a lot of incompetent braggers. People brag a lot about what they can do, but when you say okay 'do this', they cannot handle one job straight. I have not seen the kind of thing I want to see in Nigeria, but from what I see outside, Chocolate City, Mo Hits, I love their coordination. Most companies in Nigeria don't have that kind of structure, yet where you give artistes the freedom to grow they mostly see the entertainment industry like child's play where they just go to have fun. I know the entertainment industry is business.
Let's revisit the crisis between you and Kennis Music......
There was no crisis actually. The media only blew it out of proportion. It was purely business. It went this way, people took up with different companies and there was a misunderstanding somewhere along the line in trying to reach a concrete resolution and the media blew it and said we were fighting. It's just that on the side of the company they were really being rigid, I respect that fact that I owe you money, but you also have to respect the fact that I am an artiste and I have to work to be able to pay you your money. And if you don't want me to work to be able to pay you your money, that means you want to kill my career. It was all a business misunderstanding and the media took delight in blowing it out of proportion.
Do we see you joining the new trend of musicians turned actors soon?
I'm not going to join the trend, but I am already in the trend, but just waiting for the right opportunity. I am a musician and an actor already, acting is already inside me. Acting is not something I am going to be trying, but it is something that is already inside me. I am yet to see the platform in which to showcase my acting skills, because everything these days is all about branding and I don't want to come out with something of lesser quality of what people would expect. So, definitely people would see Kelly Hansome in the movie industry in the nearest future.
You have worked with a lot or artistes, which one of them have you really enjoyed working with and always look forward to working with?
I have worked with a whole lot of people, as a producer I am a different person, as Kelly Hansome I am different and as Kelechi I am different. I have worked with Tuface, he is someone I would work with any day at anytime, it's just that we are both busy people and hardly have time to really sit and do things. But anytime we met, we must have some recordings. I have worked with Black Face, he also is a wonderful person to work with. I have not worked with Faze, but I am looking forward to work with him. I work more with foreign artistes, but this is not to say Nigerian artistes are not good. For me they are really doing great in the entertainment industry.
What advice do you have for youngsters who aspire to be like you?
I would advise them to work hard, be humble, be focused and keep their mouth shut and do what they are told to do and also know what they want in life.
What should your fans expect form you in 2013?
I don't really tell fans what to expect, but I think an album is around the corner.