Amina Isa, also known as Missaei, is just 25 years old and yet has started making her marks both home and abroad with her unique talents. She is a singer, song writer and also a fashion designer and would probably go into filmmaking in the nearest future as she had also recently delved into film production.
She is a graduate of Public Relations from Syracuse University, New York, and now holds a Masters in Fine Arts from the University of Southern California’s renowned Film School. She recently visited Nigeria to mark her 25th birthday, celebrate her graduation from school as well as launch her music and fashion brand. In this interview with IFEOMA OKEKE, she speaks about her talents and career. Excerpts:
How did your journey into music start?
I have been singing for as long as I can remember but actually getting the courage to get into the studio and recording a song started five years ago and ever since, it’s been just going to the studio, recording music and becoming more comfortable with that whole experience.
Now, are you doing this for the passion or for the money?
Definitely not for the money, if it’s for anything, it’s for the love. Just getting into it professionally was just a natural progression because I have been doing it in private for so long. And it is also something that I can utilise to get my name out there, meet people and network. It’s not for the cash.
Music is very competitive here in Nigeria. How do you intend to grow your brand, stand out and then remain on top of the game?
I honestly believe that if you do what you love, you are honest about it and you are genuine, things will fall in line to work for you. That’s how it has been with my life.
Anything that I put my heart into, 100 percent; I always find a way to make it happen for me. It might not be the way others would want for themselves, but it always works out for me. So, I believe that though it is competitive, and a lot of people have a lot of disappointments, I know that I will find a path that works right for me in this industry and I believe that there is room for my kind of sound. I haven’t really heard any other artiste or a team of artistes that have done the kind of music that I’m trying to do, so I’m confident that there is a place for me in the music industry, competitive or not, I think people need the kind of music that I have to offer.
What inspires your kind of music?
I listen to different kinds of music. I get influenced by different kinds of music but I am more of the kind of person that likes listening to easy music – kind of music that you can just put on when you are getting ready, when you are driving. The kind you listen when you just want to relax. So, I’m inspired by things that I see, what I feel when I go to certain places like when I am onvacation, how I am feeling when I am with my friends – those are the kind of vibes that I try to recreate in my music. I really get that sort of feelings when I listen to some Sade songs as well as Mr. Eazi.
How has the journey been so far? Any challenge trying to reach your aim as a musician?
I think it’s a little premature to really see how it is in the industry for me because I just graduated from my Masters at USC in California, and prior to that, I wasn’t really 100 percent into music, I was focused on school and I was putting music on the side but now it is turning into something that is more on the fore front of my energy. So, we would see how it goes and God willing, everything goes according to plan but you know people plan and God laughs. Who knows what will happen but so far so good, it has been great.
How many songs are you launching now? Is it like an album?
No, I haven’t gotten to an album stage. I am still trying to let people know who I am, so they become aware of the brand, become aware of the kind of music, just basically who I am and then an album will follow shortly after. I am working on some new stuff. I have a song that came out last year, which is doing pretty well now and I am going to be singing that. The song called Flex, I dropped one December 1st, it is called ‘Tell Me’. And the music video for that is coming out soon so keep logged on to my Instagram to see it. My Instagram is @missaei
You are also a fashion designer. Can we talk about your fashion brand?
‘Koy and Victoria’ is my baby. I come up with the concept three to four years ago, but prior to that I have always been in tune with fashion – taking fashion classes while I was in the university and even in secondary school, I will draw sketches, I customised my school uniform. I would get into trouble but I was still doing it. And it was just something that was always a part of me. People always told me that I had great fashion sense and that I should start a fashion line. So, it was like a natural progression for me as well until I came up with my fashion line, ‘Koy and Victoria’. It is a women’s wear brand targeted towards women aged 18 and above.
‘Koy and Victoria’ is a lifestyle brand that is for the women that love to feel good, feel free and sexy as well as being able to explore travel. A lot of the pieces are transitional, and you can wear them when you are going partying or just casual. So, you can dress it up or dress down
Where are you based, currently?
Right now, I am based in Los Angeles, USA, and some pieces are being produced here in Nigeria too. We have the adire pieces, the silk adire collection which is made here in Nigeria. We got the fabric here in Nigeria and made it here in Nigeria but it is marketed globally.
Is your fashion line high-end?
It’s made market. So, the most expensive thing is probably going to be about 250 dollars and the most affordable thing will probably be around 65 dollars. Why? You may ask. That is because it is made out of silk.
What’s your niche in fashion?
I call ‘Koy and Victoria’ laid back luxury brand, so you can dress it up and dress it down by either adding or removing jewellery. It is the kind of clothing that anybody can wear. It is the kind of clothing that any woman can wear and look beautiful.
How have you been able to combine both, trying to excel in the fashion line as well as in music?
I think they go hand in hand. I think that I can use the music persona to help elevate the fashion. But I think that this is something that a number of successful artistes have done. This is something that I am passionate about. It is a natural thing and I enjoy doing it. I have been singing all my life but I just started recording in a recording studio. So, that is how I have been able to deal with that and I have enjoyed every minute or should I say opportunity that came my way.
What should people expect from Koy and Victoria in 2019?
This year, we would officially be launching. So, that means you can go on our site and actually buy the physical pieces. This is just a pre-launch. In 2019, you would be able to shop the brand and see it on your favourite blogs and be able to buy these pieces as well.
Where do you hope to be in the next ten years?
In the next ten years, I would be an established brand globally but known as being a Nigerian brand catering to women of all sizes, all shapes and making them look beautiful as well as working on my music consistently.
Who or what do you consider as your greatest influence?
My parents have been very supportive and I am very blessed in that regard. My father Abdulrazaqlsa, the Chairman/CEO, WaltersmithPetroman Oil Limited has been extremely supportive, while my mother, Kate lsa is the CEO, Katchey Company Limited, is a champion, helping me to stay motivated and stick to my passion.
If you had to advise young people today, what would you tell them?
Don’t listen to that voice beside you that says that you are not good enough; that you don’t have what it takes and so on. Just do what you love, do what you want and stay true to yourself. You know what, if you don’t; you are going to see other people doing the things that you know you could have done.