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Fresh Out The Box: Nigeria's TemiDollface

The Nigerian music industry is getting a new spin with up and coming artist Temi DollFace


She is the female answer to the booming, yet largely male-dominated West African Hip-Hop/Pop music scene. Her avant garde blend of electronic funk, soul and Naija hip-hop has got our ears all at attention, with lyrics that reminisce, celebrate, and demistify the emergence of the modern African woman; the journey, the let downs and the triumphs. On stage her visuals are equally exciting- colorful, feminine, fun with a whole lot of flair and a whole lot of drama. Her EP, SecondFirst is out in the summer, so without further ado, we present to you, Temi Dollface.

OKA: Where are you originally from? And how did Temitope Phil-Ebosie morph into TemiDollface?

I’m Nigerian. Well mostly...I’m a cocktail of Yoruba, Igbo, West Indian and a hint of Scottish. I have, in equal part, grown up in Lagos and the United Kingdom. I spent my formative years in Lagos, after which I went off to boarding school and University in the United Kingdom.

Becoming TemiDollFace was really just me introducing myself on a clean slate after having fled the strictures of an environment that did little to nurture my creativity. It isn’t actually a name I gave myself. I’d had a couple of street style photographers say to me that I looked like a doll. I didn’t see it but one of the members of a band that I was fronting at the time kind of just ran with it and introduced me as TemiDollFace at one of our shows. The name just stuck from then on.

OKA: What are your musical influences?

My music has been shaped by a diverse array of influences. It invokes both past and modern luminaries from Fela Kuti, Stevie Wonder, Billy Holiday, Josephine Baker, James Brown, David Bowie to Prince, D’Angelo, Missy Elliot, Pharrell Williams, Outkast, to name but a few. My music is also informed by a love of flights of fancy and old movies, a keen interest in words and the cultures I’ve been exposed to.

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OKA: How did you arrive at the style of music you play now: "Drama Soul"?

For me, everything about the self must be considered when making music or any kind of art, and “Drama Soul” just sums me up. I like to play with contrasts and enjoy creating something new and unexpected by fusing together seemingly diparate genres, eras and cultures. I have always loved Soul, Pop, Afro-beat, R’n’B, Jazz and Hip Hop but wanted my own songs to take a more progressive angle, with theatrical influences and smart lyrics. The drama aspect comes through in the way I use my different vocal characteristics to colour a song, how I dig deep into the character I’m portraying, and in my style of performance. So in a nutshell, I arrived at “Drama Soul” by just fusing together all the things I am, I love and am influenced by.

OKA: What are you listening to right now?

Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange, N.E.R.D’s Seeing Sounds and Amy Winehouse’s Frank Album

Temi Dollface in The White Room from ThisIsAfrica on Vimeo.

OKA: What should we expect from your EP SecondFirst?

Something fearless, honest and unexpected, that bridges continents, cultures and centuries; Something forward thinking but with a nod to the past; An album that proves Pop can still be alternative, experimental and exciting. I hope people find plenty that will inspire and surprise them, but also take them somewhere else form the moment they press play.

OKA: Who are the musicians and producers you worked with on the new album?

At the moment I am working with Nigerian producers Ikon, Chify and London-based production duo, Hator Bros on my current project. I’ve also had the priviledge of working with producer Alan Nglish, Femi Temowo, Keziah Jones, Re Olunuga, SDC and BlackMagic. I have a 10-piece band with some incredible musicians that I am blessed to have the opportunity to perform with.

OKA: The most stressful part about breaking into the Nigerian music industry is....

The fact that nobody likes change, to start with, and I stand for something different, outside of the box. I’ve encountered a few cynics along the way, so one has got be that much more proactive and inventive. It’s about persevering and in time people’s ears adjust to the new.

[audio:http://www.okayafrica.com/wp-content/uploads/Temi-DollFace-Pata-Pata.mp3|titles=Temi DollFace "Pata Pata"]

>>>Download: Temi DollFace "Pata Pata"

OKA: Your first single "Pata Pata", what is the song about?

I use the term “Pata Pata” in the Yoruba context, which means "completely".

The song is about prolonging the inevitable - the end of a relationship. One party has emotionally checked out but puts on a façade to spare the feelings of the other. But it doesn’t last. Her true feelings inevitably come to the surface and she spits it out – “It’s Over Pata Pata"

OKA: What is you musical background and what has your journey been like so far?

My first foray into music began at the age of 7, when I wrote my first song. Singing at church and a self-education in playing keys followed. I never had piano lessons as a child but somehow was able to find my way around the keys and consruct songs complete with verse, chorus and bridge. Fast-forward a few years, a Food Science and Nutrition degree, time at Performance School, a major record deal that didn’t quite work out, the decision to go it alone for the sake of creative freedom, and –voila!- TemiDollFace was born.

The journey has been a bit like an obstacle course and there’ve been times when throwing in the towel seemed the most attractive option but I needed all the character-building that came with that and relish the creative freedom of where I am now.

OKA: You are working on setting up your own label in Nigeria, what does that involve and what kind of artists are you looking to sign

I realized there was space for a record label that represents a different sound and aesthetic, and in that spirit, set up a boutique record label called Awe-Dacious Records. At the moment, it’s on a really small scale with me as the only artist on it’s roster but the plan is to give artists that I do eventually sign scope for experimentation and artistic freedom. The kind of artists I will sign are original creative risk-takers that I’m excited about and feel need to be heard

OKA: Whats next for TemiDollface?

Well TemiDollFace makes quite a few different kinds of art so some other aspects of who she is will be coming to the fore in the very near future. The “Pata Pata” video will be out soon so watch this space @Temidollface.

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Still from "Kasala!"

Meet The Nigerian New Wave Director Behind the Film 'Kasala!'

One of Naija cinema's new wave, Ema Edosio talks about what it took to film her exciting new film in the streets of Lagos.

Ema Edosio is the director of "Kasala", a comedy set in present day Lagos and centers on the lives of four young men who go on a joyride to a party in a Honda Accord one of them has taken from his boss Taju without permission. Their evening is ruined when one of them crashes Taju's Honda breaking the windscreen and denting the car's body. With just four hours before Taju returns home, all four boys hustle around Lagos to raise money for the car repair.

Taju, who is a struggling butcher, is faced with a big problem of his own: his debtor has just given him an ultimatum to pay back money he's long owed. Bitter and frustrated, Taju's retribution will be double-fold, if he returns home to find his Honda is damaged. The four friends do not need more another reason to expect the worse from Taju if they're not able to fix his Honda before gets home in the next four hours.

"Kasala" is a vivid portrayal of contemporary Lagos and a riotous combination of physical comedy, inventive turns of phrases combined with fluid camera work and committed performances from some of the young and bright African acting talents.

Written by Temi Sodipo and directed by Ema Edosio—who is also the cinematographer and editor—"Kasala" was chosen for the closing gala of the 2018 edition of Film Africa in London this November, out of a total of 39 films from 15 countries.

Edosio flew into London for the film's UK premier at the Rich Mix cinema to a largely pan-African crowd who lapped up the rollicking comedy. Ahead of her trip to the UK, Okay Africa spoke to Edosio about her debut feature, the joys and challenges of shooting on location in Lagos and the rise of Nigeria's so called "Naija New Wave" cinema.

Photo courtesy of Ema Edosio


The fast pace and energy in Kasala is constant all through the film. Was this a deliberate injection or did it come as a result of the writing?

I worked as a video journalist for the BBC and I would go into the streets of Lagos to film, and I would see everything that made Lagos what it is: the traffic, the smell, the dirt, the vibe, the energy, the people. And I wanted to make a story that is authentic and that is the reason why I decided to make Kasala this way.

All the four friends and main characters jell naturally it would seem. How did you get them to work well together?

When I conceived of the film, I knew that I didn't want to work with any "known" faces. I knew that I wanted unknown actors. So I put out an audition call and these boys worked into the room and I told them to read together. And immediately it was like magic.

Why do you think they're largely unknown to the majority of Nigerian movie watching audience?

I think one of the reasons is there's not a lot of movies written about young people. Most of the scripts are for a certain kind of male character: the superhero who goes to save the damsel in distress, and the hunk and a lot of roles are not written for these amazing actors and that's why they're largely unknown.

Tomiwa Tegbe who plays "Effiong" is a good comic actor and has been in "On The Real (Ebony Life TV)" and "Shuga (MTV)". What does Kasala bring out in Tomiwa Tegbe that these other directors and film material that do not?

The thing that made Tomiwa Tegbe and the rest stand out in Kasala is that I gave them freedom to act and I wasn't micromanaging them. They became very comfortable in order to do their best to the film.

The cast as a whole is largely new and young with Jide Kosoko easily the most experienced. Why did you cast him for the role and not yet another "unknown" face?

The reason is I couldn't afford to hire known faces to work in the film and I honestly didn't have the budget. I [also] wanted to bring in a sense of familiarity and that is why I got Jide Kosoko. Even though they're guys are unknown, and they're are fantastic "here is someone you know who is in this movie playing with these amazing actors" which is why I worked with Jide Kosoko.

The different locations in the film are those of back corners, mechanic garages, meat market, communal flats most of which have the red and brown of rust and decay gives the cinematography a visual harmony. How much attention did you give to finding the right locations?

I think I made Kasala with a vengeance. I've had the privilege to work with Ebonylife tv which was beautiful but Kasala kept pulling me in: the people I met in the streets, the things I'd done on the streets of Lagos, the visual aesthetic kept pulling and I decided to make that. I wanted to see Lagos, I wanted to see barbwires. I wanted to see gutters, I wanted to see the people. I knew that the location was a character on its own. And I wanted to be able to find the right location that would be able to represent that boys and the lives they live in Lagos. I'm forever grateful for the people there who let us film there.

Your camera adopts the often frenetic pace of the film and is rarely still for long. Why this visual approach?

I'm very influenced by Guy Ritchie, Edgar Wright, Spike Lee and Martin Scorsese. And I would always say to myself that "these characters in their films can be Nigerians". I think that the camera should be fluid, breathe, move with the audience showing us "oh yeah this is a wide, oh yeah this is a close up". My influence by these directors was what I put into Kasala. And this is what made the film dynamic.

Are there any interesting, unplanned events during shooting which you could share with our readers?

Shooting in Lagos is one of the hardest thing to do. You have these agberos [louts] who come to you and literally want to take your equipment. I went with a very small crew and I'm very petite and they would see me and say "who is this small girl? She doesn't have money. Leave her alone, let her shoot". I started bringing them into the film to act and it was very beautiful seeing them react to it. One of the most interesting things is the children in the estates [on location] who act in the film, the joy and the playfulness. In some ways we brought back some joy and some fun into the neighbourhood.


Still from "Kasala!"

Did you worry much about what may be lost to foreign audiences who may not be clued up the pidgin English and "Nigerianisms" used in the film?

You can't come to Lagos and make a film about the slum in English. I felt like the pidgin English was as important as the location. My mind was not about where the foreign audience would accept it or whatever. My mind was "how do I make a film that is authentic to Nigeria? How do I make a film that would show of Lagos?" It would do no justice to use English.

Who are the other key players in Nigeria's "nu wave" film and tv you would like to highlight?

When you talk about new wave key players you're talking about Abba Makama whose film "Green White Green" inspired me to make "Kasala". CJ SeriObasi, ImoEmoren, Jade Sholat Siberi, Kemi Adetiba. So many new directors are springing out nollywood. And they're new directors making amazing stuff. I'm really really excited about the future.

How did you raise the funding needed to make "Kasala"?

When I wanted to make Kasala, it was not the kind of story people would fund. I decided in order to bring this story to live, to use the skills I'd gained over the years—to produce, direct, shoot and edit. Not because I wanted to be in control, because I didn't have the budget. That is the sport of new director coming in now. We're fighting against all odds and it is now beginning to be clear that it's way beyond nollywood. Kasala has been to over 20 international festivals and counting. And there an audience for our films, there's an audience for our voices.

What are you expectations for it at the festival?

I really don't know what to expect. I just hope that they love the film. For the Nigerians in the diaspora,I hope that it brings back memories of Lagos. For black people I hope it gives them a sense of how we are back home to help them connect with us as Africans. For the foreign audience I hope that they see a Nigeria of passion, of community, of tenacity, of brotherhood of love.

"Kasala" will be released worldwide on December 7th

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Indomie: Unpacking a Nigerian Tradition

What does Nigeria's way of preparing this beloved brand of instant noodles say about the country as a whole?

Before I came to Lagos in September to begin a collaborative performance project, I imagined all the ways the place would challenge all I had read and heard about it, and all the ways it might remind me of my home, Trinidad and Tobago. Of all the kernels of similarities I've encountered so far, Indomie is perhaps the most intriguing.

Indomie, a brand of instant noodles originating in Indonesia, has become the household name for all instant ramen noodles in Nigeria.

As a child, I would make Top Ramen, but ours was far less intentionally adorned. I had never seen anyone add anything but Golden Ray. I would try to be fancy with my own and add eggs, but they never quite attained Naruto ramen standards.

Indomie was my first meal in Nigeria. I had arrived in Lagos about two hours earlier. In those two hours I had seen something of the character of the city. In the midst of the clouds of dust and engine exhaust fumes I saw a woman almost fall out the car she was getting into, I saw men sitting atop a truck, like wrinkles in the night sky fabric, I saw selling, so much selling and buying and haggling. It seemed to me that everything was happening here.

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Fela Kuti's 'Zombie' Is Coming Out On Limited Edition 8-Track

"Zombie" and "Mr. Follow Follow" are available in the nostalgic 8-track cartridge.

"Zombie," Fela Kuti's 1976 protest anthem and scathing attack on the Nigerian military, is getting an 8-track re-release.

Knitting Factory Records, Kalakuta Sunrise and Partisan Records have made 300 limited editions copies of Zombie/Mr. Follow Follow which you can pre-order now ahead of its December 7 release.

Fela Kuti's classic song uses zombies as a metaphor for soldiers mindlessly following orders. The song is thought to have triggered the Nigerian government's horrific assault on the Kalakuta Republic, in which the compound burned to the ground, Fela was brutally beaten and his mother, Nigerian feminist icon Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, was murdered.

You can pre-order Zombie/Mister Follow Follow on 8-track now and read more about each song from Mabinuori Kayode Idowu's text accompanying the release below.

Purchase Fela Kuti's Zombie/Mr Follow Follow on 8-Track

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