Seyi Daniel, most people know me as IYES DAN is a man of many parts, he is a musician, an award winning broadcaster, multimedia producer and advertising strategist, Convener of Christmas Praise Jam, one of the biggest Concerts in North Central Nigeria amongst others.
The graduate of English from the University of Ilorin has been doing music professionally since he was in Junior Secondary School 2. Apart from a few songs which he released before 2013 when he decided to fully concentrate on gospel music, he have released his first gospel single title ‘I Love You’ in 2018 and it is available on all digital music platforms.
Our crew, Adegbenro John and Olutayo Irantiola caught up with him and herein below is an excerpt of their discussion with him-
PDC: what was it like for you growing up?
IYES DAN: Growing up was fun and I am very grateful for my parents. I am the only one into music within my immediate family (apart from my cousin who studied music), I am also the only one with an unrepentant urge for the arts and entertainment. In short, I was different and quite supernormal. The good thing is they let me be myself and follow my passion. So, I am the last of four children, born in Lagos and raised in Ilorin, Kwara State.
I attended FGC Ilorin where I was known for my drumming skills and I was also a key member of the school choir led by Mr Amao, who was our music teacher. I learnt and played the recorder (popularly known as flute) and I remember being one of the very few that played the Alto recorder.
PDC: What is it like, juggling between music, presenting and also being a producer?
IYES DAN: I guess when God blesses one with multiple talents like mine, he also gives you the ability to multi task. So for me, it is almost a walk in the park, except for a few day that I wish there were more hours so I could’ve done more.
I recall a very recent event, it was on a Saturday, and I had a music ministration the next day, so I had to rehearse and sound check. I also had a business meeting with a client and a public speaking training to facilitate. It was such a tight and tiring day, but I made it to all of them and gave it my all. You just need to be a good planner and be hardworking.
PDC: Every family wants children that are professionals and many times, Music is not on the list, was there any opposition from family when you decided to go into music?
I am very blessed with an understanding and educated family. My mother bought me my first guitar, and till date, she still beat herself for not buying me one earlier. My brothers always tell everyone that I am a musician, even when there wasn’t much to show. My sisters and all my nieces are my number 1 fans, while my wife plays my song so much I feel like a superstar. All I am saying is there is no opposition.
PDC: we know your brother, Dr Shogo Oyeniyi, he is a motivational speaker, and also does master of ceremony alongside being a doctor. So, does multi-tasking run in the family
IYES DAN: I think it is more appropriate to call it ‘workaholism’. It is the way we were wired, I think. We grew up seeing our dad juggle between his very demanding civil service work with multiple church, community, private business and other responsibilities. So you are not far from the truth with your observation.
PDC: What first got you into music?
IYES DAN: Getting into music was pretty much natural for me. I grew up in church so I was mostly surrounded by music. I started playing clef to provide metronome for the choir. Then drum in school and all.
My biggest expressions began while in secondary school at FGCI. Interestingly, Dunsin Oyekan, who was my schoolmate was one of the people that made me fall in love with the Lead Guitar quite early. So my music became fully established in Senior Secondary 2 when I led our church youth choir in my very first concert and we performed the first song I ever wrote.
PDC: Who inspired you to make music?
IYES DAN: I experienced the likes of Fela Kuti, King Sunny Ade, Shina Peters, Micheal Jackson, Lagbaja, among others. Each of these names had a very high impact on my musical development from my performance to everything.
I also remember travelling all the way to Ibadan just to watch Gbenga Adenuga live in concert back in 2003-2004. However, I consume almost all genre of music as a form of inspiration to fuel creativity. So many other people had their parts to play in my musical development. There are so many that I cannot mention.
PDC: How would you describe your kind of music?
IYES DAN: Afro-Pop is my mainstay. However, I am not boxed in my ideas. I love soft rock and reggae a lot and you will find some elements of that in my sound. I also have hybrid highlife tracks. So I pretty much do whatever gives the best expression to the ideas in my head. Music is art, and art thrives on creativity. Once boxed, the creative elements could be limited.
PDC: What has been your most memorable experience as an artist?
Every good performance is a memorable experience and I have had quite of those. I love large crowds, and great harmonies, so we have enjoyed such at many concerts especially Cool FM Praise Jam alongside Tim Godfrey, Preye Odede, Panam Percy Paul, Eben and others. Also at my annual concert Christmas Praise Jam in Kogi State, it was such a great experience having the Deputy Governor at the concert in the last edition.
PDC: How do you feel the internet has influenced the entertainment industry?
IYES DAN: The internet has done a great deal in this industry. It has broken the monopoly, and given everyone a higher chance at reaching their audience and also profiting from their craft. However, the internet has also made it more competitive and mediocrity won’t pass.
PDC: Which famous gospel musicians do you admire?
IYES DAN: Tim Godfrey is number 1 on my list. Ada has also had quite a good run and I love her sound. There are quite a number of others. Tim is doing it just as I have always dreamt.
PDC: Who would you most like to have a collaboration with?
IYES DAN: Collaborations are huge for me because it is a chance to blend someone’s strength with yours. Dunsin Oyekan is on my list, Nathaniel Bassey also and my friend, Mercy Chinwo. These people are not directly in my core genre, but that is why I look forward to how our fusion will sound.
PDC: What is the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome so far as an individual?
IYES DAN: Being a musician with a day job alongside. I often had to do music after a tired day. But the passion brings a kind of energy that gets me through. But now, we are over that stage and God is helping me.
PDC: What are the difficulties you’ve experienced, especially in the music industry?
IYES DAN: The greatest challenge is finding the required skilled people for some functions from management to production. Where you find, they may be above your budget. Of course, I can imagine how much more we can do with a more constant power supply in Nigeria. But all these aren’t the main issue when compared to the pure culture of praying for music. That is the beginning to change.
PDC: As a young father, how has fatherhood influenced your music, and lifestyle in general?
IYES DAN: Fatherhood has made me realize how much of a role model I am when it comes to music. Because my son always love to watch me perform. He sings my songs, re-enact my performances at all that. However, in terms of lifestyle, I’m mostly a night person, meaning I am more active at night and may take my rest early in the morning. But with him, I have had to re-adjust my schedules so I can spend time with him. It also brings a sense of responsibility which makes you work harder and begin to think of a legacy.
PDC: What do you enjoy most about being a musician?
IYES DAN: What I enjoy most is making music. I am a live performer and also a songwriter. The process of making music leaves me totally excited. The fact that we share these harmonies, blend instruments and the effect on the emotions of people is what motivates me.
PDC: There are certain words that are uttered to one and it get tucked into one’s brasin, what is the best advice you’ve been given?
They were the words of a senior colleague, he said and I quote “If you want to succeed in this ministry, you have to take away emotions”.
This is because as a gospel musician, there are a lot of sentiments and emotions around the religious circle that you must be willing to overcome and focus on what it is that God has called you to do.
PDC: What do you like doing in your spare time?
IYES DAN: I hardly ever do, but when I feel like I am losing creative steam, I watch movies in the cinema. And I like doing it on Monday morning. If not I spend all my time rehearsing. It is my best moment.
PDC: We know you have a new single coming very soon, what should we be expecting from it?
IYES DAN: Yes. My new single ‘SWEET LOVE’ is a song that I received in 2015. I was in the middle of an emotion cloud that wasn’t so good, coupled with me being bored at my job at the time. So that night, I just started hearing the words, and if you know me well, you will know I don not joke with inspirations or ideas.
I picked a pen and started writing, and was done under 20 minutes. I then recorded the song because I had a mini home studio. I just saved the idea. I have performed it multiple times before recording it. That’s how I do with all my songs, to know what to take away and what to retain.
Well, expect a highlife groove. It is not your typical gospel song, and I can bet many people will play it in weddings, though it is a love song to Jesus. The lyrics totally tell a story of how love can make you sing and shout. I really can’t wait for you to hear it.
PDC: what are your plans for your listeners and fans for this year 2020?
IYES DAN: We have 3 songs almost ready for release, and possible EP later in the year. We also would have a concert and also more contents on our social media platforms. We are planning a YouTube music log among other things. It is going to be a busy and productive year.
PDC: What advice would you give to new and upcoming gospel artists?
IYES DAN: Two words. Learning and hard work. These two captures everything for me. Learn and improve yourself, know what works and what doesn’t, study trends, know how to write, sing better, record better quality. Know what the industry requires, how to plan and manage things. And then work hard with that knowledge. Nobody owes you any favour, so don’t feel entitled. Work as if there is no grace, let grace be the added advantage.