Steve Benjamin, better known by his stage name King Steve Benjamin (KSB), is a Russian-based Nigerian Afrobeat singer. As a recipient of the Nigerian Entertainment Award and the Nigerian Book of Records, among several awards in Russia, the afrobeat star flying the Nigerian flag high in Russia has performed on some of the biggest stages in the world, having performed on the 100th anniversary of CSKA football club. With his newly created sound called Afroruski, KSB sat down with some Nigerian press organisations to talk about his music and experiences in Russia, especially as he prepares for a homecoming tour in Nigeria. Excerpts
What is the experience coming back to Nigeria?
For now, first of all, the heat in Nigeria is hmmmm. You know I just left minus 22, and of course the contrast is very wide. But of course, it is hometown, this is where I was born and breed, this is my root. So, I am back home and I am excited because it has been a while. So, lets do it.
How long have you been away from Nigeria?
So, I came back to Nigeria in 2015 during the election, that is the last time I came here.
Now that you are back home what are we expecting from this visit?
Yeah, I am having my home coming concert because I am from Ekiti State. So, on the 19th is my home coming concert at Ado Ekiti. So, we are going there to shut it down and there after come over to Lagos to do some stuffs; meet some people, do some interviews, some press stuff then go back.
Are you going to collaborate with any of the known Naija music stars?
That is a secret, but something is coming.
How do you intend to push your music career in Nigeria now that you are around, compared to what is known of you in Russia?
One thing you should understand is that my music career is already doing well over there. So, I am not coming to drag any position with any Nigerian artists; let them do their thing here. You see that post they gave me there—the King of Afrobeat Russia—I like that my position. I am not here to drag anything with anybody, let me be cashing out there.
How far has your music gone in Scandinavia and mostly in Russian speaking countries?
It has gone so so far, that is why they call me the King of Afrobeat there because I started Afrobeat there, I founded Afrobeat there. And even during the World Cup when BBC came, they had to find me, looked for me and asked me, “How did you do it? How did you put Africa together?”. It wasn’t an easy task but we did it. But of course, I am from Ekiti and we can do anything.
What are doing to bring in upcoming artist to come over to Russia to show their talents?
There are a lot of Nigerian artists who are doing their thing in Russia, but the Nigerians who are doing there thing are not doing for the Russian audience but for the Nigerian audience. However, my advice to them is to try and broaden their horizon; let’s not be stuck, lets try to diversify ourselves. Let them push and give white people audience, and not just for Naija.
How many Russian artists have you worked with so far?
Polina Gagarina if you know her, she is like the Tiwa Savage of Russia but she is the Wizkid of Russia. She is the biggest. Philipp Kikorov, of course another big guy, then I have worked with Black Star. Black Star is another record label that have been trying to fuse Russian music with African and other international themes. So, I have worked with them; a lot of huge artists. I have performed in many places. Even your Nigerian government have invited me, OPEC have invited me to events.
Do you have songs in Russian language?
Yes, I have songs in Russian language. (He burst into speaking Russian).
What should your fans be expecting from this homecoming concert?
I want to give my fans Russian vibes fused with Afrobeat. So, you see it is something they have never seen before.
Is your music well accepted here (Nigeria)?
Every thing we touch turns into gold.
How well has the US market accepted Russian Afrobeat music?
When we talk about that, then we are going to talk about politics and I don’t want to talk about that because the US and Russia are not friends. So as long as I am with Russia, we are not friends.
How would you describe your sound?
My sound doesn’t bind to a certain style. I do creative art, so I am not bent to a certain genre or a certain style. I just do what inspiration brings and for the only way that I can explain my song or art is for you to feel it. I can’t explain it verbally you have to listen to it. My sound is called Afroruski. That is my style.
Can you give us two of your biggest hits?
Konto, was the one that brought me out, and the second one was ifeoma. Ifeoma was my first Afrobeat song over there.