Nissi Ogulu, Nigerian singer, songwriter and artist, recently sat with Chude Jideonwo, host of #WithChude, to discuss her relationship with her parents, her career as a designer and her music.
“I have lived in London for 12 years. Immediately after university, I did a project, and my supervisor was gassed about the project. He reached out to a colleague at Jaguar Land Rover for me, because of how well I had done on the project. He wanted them to give me an internship which they did. After that they wanted me to work on projects for them. That was how the Jaguar thing started”.
“During the internship, I worked on a new design for the centre console. Apparently, they reached back out and gave me an offer letter and wanted me to come back in. They put me on another project where I was working with a team called Customer Focus Innovation – the team comes up with different designs that may or may not make it to a model. I did that for a year, and someone on the team saw the way I work (my leadership qualities). He was supposed to travel to Austria to work on an electric car. But then he just had a baby, so he was looking for a colleague to take his place. We started building a working relationship and so from seeing how I work he probably thought why not me? I was there for 8 months, working on the components. Because I am working with management as well, they started to pay attention that ‘this young girl is here’.” She further shared that her manager gave her further projects to work on, and she had thought she was going to get into a managerial role. However, she was assigned a project, which she later found out to be the Range Rover Design.
On the decision to be a part of Spaceship Records, her brother’s label was a good one, she said, “I think for me at (that) time, yes. You must weigh the pros and cons, there’s no label that is perfect, but having people who believe in and are ready to support you, understand your vision, and draw a plan that you can align with is priceless. And at the same time, you are building a legacy.”
She shared how at some point, she didn’t want to be a part of the label, but after carefully thinking about it she decided to try something different. ‘It’s never been a competition and it never will be”, she added.
Nissi also shared about the kind of music she created. She said, ‘Because you are African doesn’t mean the only type of music you can create is Afrobeat. “You are creative just like anybody else in any part of the world. You can do R’n’B, pop or whatever it is, your creativity wants to tap into. I think that is what living outside the country has shown me. It opened my mind to many types of music, and that’s how I choose to create. And I have created my sort of sound which I like. We always have a debate about what the sound is called in our team meeting because I never want it to be called anything, I will only give it a description, it is Afro-rooted, contemporarily driven, and globally positioned.”