Shady Blue whose real name is Folashade Aboderin is a jazz singer based in the UK. The singer was the only female singer among the JJC & 419 Squad. The singer has a new sound and has released songs for the Nigerian audience. She speaks with SAMUEL ABULUDE on her musical career, passion and her next move.
How did it begin?
In the UK, I used to be in a group back in the days called JJC and 419 squad. I was the only female member I don't know if you know them. The musical group was led by Abdul with Dbanj and Don Jazzy, part of the group. After a while, I decided to leave the group and move on in my musical journey. I didn't leave the group in a bad way, I just decided that I wanted to have my own girl group. However, we still had the support of JJC Abdul and Don Jazzy on our production from our girl group back then. I don't know if you know about how girl groups are, we don't stay together. I was the only one that survived the whole girl group in the end and I just continued with my solo career. The name of the girl group was called Quality.
How did you get the name Shady Blue?
I went to Saint Annes School in Ibadan, Molete and in school, people used to call me Shady because my name is Shade. My favourite colour is blue, so when I joined JJC and 419 squad, I just thought okay that I should call myself Shady Blue. A lot of people told me that it is not positive but I think that it is how you portray something so you have to get the positive out of something that everyone thinks is negative and I think it's a beautiful name.
If you were with the likes of DBanj, Don Jazzy in JJC and 419, things would have been very nice for you, why did you decide to break out?
I am from a gospel jazz background. For me being the only female in the group of 10 guys was quite weird for me but I was a tomboy back then and I was able to cope. However, I just thought that it was time for me to move on. There were many things happening at that point in time, I don't really want to talk about it. I just thought it was time for me to go to do what I really wanted to do.
Was there anymore among the 10 guys that you were close to?
Yes. I was always in the studio with Abdul and Don Jazzy. I was quite close with Don Jazzy actually because I knew him from Solek Crew. We got him from Solek and I really respect Don Jazzy for his production. I see him as the 'timberland' of Africa in a way because he was amazing. I was the youngest in the group as well because I took them like my big brothers so I was close to most of them.
Since you have a relationship with Don Jazzy, why are you not doing something with him right now?
When Don Jazzy and Dbanj left for Nigeria, I actually came. I came in 2006 and I got in touch with him. They called me to come to their studio and I didn't take them serious to be honest. I was just like, you guys I can't believe you came to this country. Honestly, I just thought they were just wasting their time. Because, I didn't take them serious, I went back but Don Jazzy kept in touch. I kept on doing my stuff over there. I had a management out there at that point, I had someone who sponsored my music career so I was quite okay, I wasn't even thinking of the Nigerian market. I have never done Afro beat up until now. My brother keeps on telling me that why are you not doing this? I told him I am a Jazz singer, I'm a solo singer and I have done it in the past years but it did not work for me so I don't think it is my style. It is only just now that I considered it.
So do you regret the way you handled Don Jazzy's invitation with levity?
I don't think so because I believe the way things have happened is the way God has planned it and when the time is right it would happen. So I also took time out to have children. I stopped music for a while and I also lost a lot of my confidence. I felt like I was fat, I was ugly, I was not having any talent, no one wanted to listen to me. I felt old and all of those things. The confidence went away and I felt okay, I was going to give music a break and I wasn't happy because it was what I loved to do. My brother sat me down and said listen, you need to do this Afro beat and if you get it right you can maintain this brand. This will be easier if you can just do this and when you get the people on your side, you can show them that you have a talent of your own. I said this is an experiment for me going into Afro beat. So I went to a radio station and I heard two different songs, there was a reggae version and there was this club happy happy tunes. You know Nigerians like happy happy tunes. I am a love singer. I think deep so and they were asking me what's your style and I said you know what? I collect different styles and mix it with Afro beat. Because my original style is showing. I can't really put a name to it but I am making sure that I bring out my root which is Africa. I wouldn't really call it Afro beat but that's what they call it. It's a mix of different genres.
Are you fully back into Nigeria right now or you are still experimenting?
My main target market is Nigeria because the music I am doing right now is for Nigeria and Africa not just Nigeria. I am not just a Nigerian, I am half Nigerian, half Ghanaian.
Peradventure you are not accepted the way you really want, will you be discouraged to go back or you'll still keep pushing?
No, I'll be depressed. I have to do music. I can't just imagine my life without music. The only sacrifice I had to make was to make sure I had to raise my kids first and get them to a certain age so I can have more time to do this.
How do you juggle between being a musician, a mother and a wife?
I am not married. I'm a single mother and have two children. I am not just juggling between being a mother and my music, I also have a full time day job, I'm a programme manager in Information Communication Technology (ICT) and it is very demanding. So I work on large scale programmes. I do that and any spare time I have apart from looking out for my children is when I do my music. I don't sleep basically.
So far how would you describe the Nigerian sound now?
I think it has really evolved and it is becoming much better. Nigeria is now on a world map when it comes to music. Back in the days like in 1996 when I moved to the UK, it was different, but now Nigerians own the music space. You are proud to say you are a Nigerian and it is music that put us on the map not politics.
How do your fans accept the kind of music you are doing now?
My original fans are not too keen on what I am doing right now because they are like, oh why is it all watered down? Why is that effect on you? What I am trying to do is after I release this album, I'm also gonna record a live version of everything I have done. It's going to sound different but my album launch is not going to be a listening party. I might do an acoustic session of everything, a live band version of everything so I can my fans what they want. I have different people and I have different target markets like I have the Nigerian people, the mature people that like my jazz sound. I want to be able to have something for each one of them