I can never forget the first time I heard ‘Tonight.’ It came on the radio when my friends and I were on our way to a certain location to paint the night red. There was something about the song; a level of originality that drew me to employ my investigative skills. So I researched and my first discovery was ‘Alone the Ep’, Nonso’s first RnB project.
I still cannot distinguish what makes Nonso Amadi’s songs unique. The calm richness of his voice, the intelligently composed words, or the finesse he used in producing them. Either way, there’s a serenity to his tracks that makes one nostalgic, and anytime I hear ‘Tonight,’ I’m always taken back to that night; the street lights, the cool breeze and Nonso Amadi’s voice giving me goosebumps.
In respect to originality, Nonso has never failed to infuse African sounds, a style he calls Afro-fusion.
“I do a range of styles so it’s a little hard to box them in one style. If I had to, I’ll say Afro-fusion because whether it’s RnB or Soul, it’s influenced by the African sounds and elements”.
It’s easy to denote a hopeless romantic from not just what they say, but the way they say it. This encompasses their emotions, the way these emotions are expressed as well as the sincerity in their expressions. One trend in Nonso’s songwriting is how he easily draws in love and its plights. Heartbreak, for example, is a prominent theme in his lyrics. Then again, what’s a romantic without a couple of heartbreaks? Take Sam Smith and Adele for instance.
Nonso’s experience has become what defines his perception, or better still, what influences it.
“I’m against infidelity having been a victim once. I sing about this sometimes. It’s probably the thing that hurts the human soul most”.
Despite a couple of bad experiences with romance, Nonso writes beautiful love songs. Not all artists can write, sing, and produce. Especially since the writing takes a certain level of education and comprehension.
What sparked your interest in music?
Several things. Most significant was seeing my friends do it because that had an element of peer influence. I saw them make great songs right in front of me and that made me want to try it out.
What genre would you classify your music under?
I do a range of styles so it’s a little hard box them in one style. If I had to, I’ll say Afro-fusion because whether its RnB or soul it’s influenced by the African sounds and elements.
What is the biggest challenge you face as both a singer and songwriter?
I’ll say the recurring internal struggle on whether to make a song for yourself to enjoy or the people or even finding a balance between the two.
What constantly inspires your writing?
Different experiences. Things I see and hear. Ultimately, I always want the listener to have a certain feeling whenever they hear my songs.
How do you intend to evolve as a new generation artist?
I’m invested in self-development as an artist. Improving stage performances, production, brand and so on. I’m constantly looking for new ways to get better.
Do you prefer the production stage in music to the performance stage?
I prefer the performance stage that’s what allows you to appreciate the musicality of the songs. Hearing the guitars, bass, drums played live is truly gratifying.
What’s your weirdest encounter yet with a fan, while performing?
I haven’t had any weird encounters yet. Every fan has just been sweet and amazing so far.
Which artist would you love to collaborate with this year?
This year, I’m looking forward to working with Koffee.
Which song would you consider as the biggest song in Nigeria right now?
Currently, I’ll say Dumebi by Rema. Tune.
It’s become a fad for young artists to drop out of school, in pursuit of a musical career. Majority of the upcoming musical artists find shuffling their education and musical career simultaneously, to be tedious. I have an admiration for this Canadian based artist for many reasons. One of them is his ability to successfully multitask. A BSc degree in Chemical Engineering while making music? No be beans abeg. He also holds a Masters Degree from McMaster University in Canada (an advanced feat many would rather not indulge in).
Do you have any plans to use your degree as a chemical engineer graduate or you intend to deal with music solely?
I’m praying I figure this one out (laughs). I don’t know how to apply this yet.
Many consider ‘tonight’ to be your biggest project yet, what benefits did the single connect you to in the music industry?
Tonight was the song that placed a lot of attention on me. It brought me to a new stage. Now we’re looking to doing other tunes and ascending even higher.
Do you have any Ghanaian ties or social affiliation?
Quite a bit. Kwesi Arthur, Juls, Eugy, King Promise, Guilty Beatz.
What’s your state of origin and how many local languages do you speak?
I’m originally from Rivers State, Nigeria. I only speak English, but I dabble pretty well with my Nigerian Pidgin.
If you were not doing music, what would you have dabbled into?
Most likely, a 9-5 job as an Engineer, but I doubt I would be as happy as I am right now.
Which Nigerian artiste do you admire the most?
I admire a lot of the African acts but I think different respect and love for Wizkid.
Nonso has never been one to hang his private affairs on the public’s walls. How he so easily dissociates his matters from his identity as an artist is a skill that a lot of celebrities struggle to master. Even though he makes next to nothing known about himself, it’s not hard to know he is the romantic, reserved and gentle type.
In case you didn’t know, Nonso dislikes onions, cooks well (according to him) and doesn’t drink. Yep, he doesn’t drink. He’s probably one of those healthy eating men with a strict personal development program – a quality a lot of women admire – who knows? I didn’t remember to ask.
Tell us three facts about you that people don’t know?
1) I dislike onions a lot *lol*. 2) I can cook very well if I do say so myself. 3) I produce almost all my songs.
What’s your worst drinking experience?
I don’t drink.
Your opinion on infidelity?
Well, I’m against infidelity having been a victim once. I sing about this sometimes. It’s probably the thing that hurts the human soul most.
What’s your favourite memory?
Me as a child.
Do you believe in fate? Why?
My faith as a Christian teaches me that everyone is destined for some special purpose. I see this every day with people discovering themselves. I think it’s self-evident.
Are you single, searching, taken, or busy?
Do you have a celebrity crush? Who?
I don’t have one.
Regardless he is walking a path to greatness. His recent features encompassing ‘Playlist’, off MI Abaga’s Rendezvous and ‘Freaky’ off Cruel Santino’s Mandy and the Jungle album, have introduced him to a whole new fan base.
He represents a new generation of artists geared by originality and a sincere connection to their evolving audience.
His new EP, ‘Free’ is a work he poured out his soul into. A craft carved out of passion, topped with uniqueness and thrown out for those with a distinguished taste to digest.
Considering the love theme in all of your songs, would you consider yourself a Romantic?
Yes, definitely. I also found this out while creating music over the years. I’m looking to transition from this to other topics that represent the people more like peace, love & unity.
If you had a chance to, what would you change in the Nigerian music industry?
Structure & transparency. At the moment, we have different setups/labels but we would love to see better deals from the label, clear road to market, Award shows & media without the stories of pay before play and all. All these things and more make for a stronger music industry.
Is there any project you’re working on this year, or some Album your fans should look forward to?
New EP titled “FREE” will be out in August. This project has been a long time coming and I’m excited to show people this side of me. It also has a couple of dope features in there with really talented artists. Look out for that!
Cover Story: Tiffy Daniels
Photography: Jeremy Rodney-Hall
Creative Director: Josef Adamu
Stylist: Marho Efemuaye
Producer: Amarachi Nwosu
Cover Design: Slimkiss