Interview
Photo courtesy of Telz.

Interview: Meet Telz, the Breakout Producer From Burna Boy's 'Twice As Tall'

Telz speaks on how his life has changed this year after signing to Spaceship Records and producing five songs on Twice As Tall.

"I have never worked that hard in my life." Five days after the release of Burna Boy's fifth studio album Twice as Tall, and a little over a year after the Grammy-nominated African Giant, I speak with the breakout producer Telz.

After several back and forths via Twitter DMs, we finally settle on a Sunday evening for our call. As he hops on the Facetime audio call. I am met with a serene yet confident voice. The ambitious Telz produced five out of the 13 tracks on Twice As Tall, ("Wonderful," "Onyeka," "Naughty by Nature," "Wetin Dey Sup," and "Real Life"). Those tracks feature executive production from Diddy, and include vocals from the likes od Stormzy and Naughty By Nature.

On the night of the release of Twice as Tall, I'd logged on to Twitter to meet a series of tweets from people asking the same question I was geared up to throw at them. Who is Funkula?


Photo courtesy of Telz.

Ali Odunayo, popularly known as Telz or his tuneful and catchy music tag 'Funkula' tells me about his life-changing year that started from an unforeseen introduction by his friend and fellow record label-signee Buju. It happened in February after a good session at a production camp hosted by a distribution and marketing company called Ejoya.

"That was the first time I understood the meaning of jaw dropping" was the only way the talented producer could describe his first official meeting with Burna Boy. Telz immediately plugged himself by playing unreleased songs from his hard drive for the self-proclaimed African giant which led to what we know today as track 7 on the album, "Naughty By Nature." What was most fascinating about this story, as a thrilled Telz tells me, is that before this moment Burna Boy knew nothing of him nor his music but was already agreeing and showing interest to working with him.

Burna Boy - Wetin Dey Sup [Official Audio] www.youtube.com

As the producer takes me down memory lane, he begins by narrating his life after that encounter. While he was pessimistic that Burna wanted anything to do with him and his art, he jumped on the next opportunity and went on to work with reggae-dancehall singer Patoranking on his hit single "Abule," which is a perfect fusion of drums and several distinct instruments to amount to a solid afrobeats/reggae number. Well received by the streets, the producer began to garner compliments that fueled his passion even more. Just two weeks later, as he thought life could not get any better, he was offered an unexpected contract with Spaceship Records, the Burna Boy-owned music record label.

'Unexpected' and 'unpredictable' are the most accurate ways to describe the incredible turn the young producer's life took. Like any of us would do, he spent every second after signing the contract refreshing his email and checking for missed calls even though he never left his phone unattended. Finally, after a month of anticipation and at the brink of a global pandemic in May, Odunayo got the call from the woman herself Bose Ogulu, which led to yet again another hit making story for the books.

Photo courtesy of Telz.

During what was only their second time meeting and working together, Burna and Telz created the rhythmically balanced tune of the summer, "Wonderful." As Telz tells me, he hadn't intended for Burna to hear the beat but to his surprise, he loved it and they decided to work with it. "I was supposed to play a beat I had named 'Comb' but I played another one called 'Casillo' which was eventually 'Wonderful.' It's crazy."

He goes on to describe the magical process that made the complete song; a 9-hour period of recording and playing around with sounds and instruments crowned with one more hour of listening over and again until it was perfect. Telz describes the 10-hour session as the hardest he's ever worked in his life.

While we speak more on the producer's fast growing discography, he halts to give credit to the track that he believes has plenty to do with the inquisition and curiosity from his audience, "Wetin you smoke," the PrettyboyDO record that features Olamide off the album Wildfire. That was the first time a lot of people to hear the unmeaning yet simply rhythmic term Funkula at the beginning of a hit. Telz trusts that the song and tag have plenty to do with how quickly and widespread his name went.

Burna Boy - Wonderful [Official Music Video] www.youtube.com

A passion that started at four-years-old in the walls of church like many other music enthusiasts, Telz believes that drumming certainly influenced and played a huge role in his chosen career today. "Music comes easy to me" stands out in Telz's interpretation of his creative process. When asked about his connection to afrobeats, he explains that the reason he is associated with the genre is simply because it is more marketable and regardless, he has the range for various and diverse sounds preferably within alternative rap, perfect sounds for the likes of J Hus and Kendrick Lamar.

The one characteristic that stands out with the Burna Boy brand is the unshakable confidence and passion for African development within music and otherwise. The artist often seems to have lots to say and teach his audience whenever given the chance and this attribute is one that Telz was sure to pick up too. "He has taught me how to stand on my own and be confident in my craft."

Telz speaks highly of Burna Boy on a normal day but is particular about the opportunity for character development and the life lessons he has encountered during his short yet progressive relationship with the artist. Following the Twice as Tall album announcement, Telz discloses that he immediately felt an insanely overwhelming rush—with the love and appreciation coming from new and growing supporters, he believes that this was a win for a whole community of believers in the art.

Only a few days later, the young producer has admitted that he is focused now on changing his sound and branching out within his craft. He also mentions that we should expect new music from him and his friend and Nigerian-based trapper and songwriter; Laime.

Overall, Telz is grateful for a year that, month after month, blessed him with opportunities for the books.

Photo by Meztli Yoalli Rodríguez

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