Victor Ademofe is probably the best example of how to play jazz music. Over a thousand recordings, he has been heard around the world. He recently had a recording collaboration with the velvet-toned Yoruba gospel singer, Tope Alabi. Ademofe believes there is more to music, when he said, “music is the fuel that will eventually take the vehicle of my life to its final destination,” in this interview with Adedayo Adejobi
Tell us about yourself.
My name is Victor Ademofe and I am the second child in the family of three. I am from Ifon in Ondo State.
What inspires you into music?
My inspiration is first and foremost from God. As a musicologist, I am equipped and trained to pick out sounds around me. By this, anything I hear can inspire me. And I would say that music found me when I was about four years old. I had started to play, and sought after by many music promoters back in the days. It is obvious to me that it is the gift of God deposited in me.
Why the trumpet?
The trumpet is just one of the instruments I play. It expresses my thoughts better than I would have spoken them.
What was the first song you ever played?
I actually can’t remember the first song I ever played but I remember the first song I ever recorded for a man named (Mr. Sogunro) over 18 years ago.
Share the experience of being a musician
My experience as a musician has been awesome being that I have had opportunity of meeting great people who have impacted me in diverse ways, It has given me a platform to inspire the generation next through my music, lifestyle and my teachings..
What are your high and low points?
Honestly speaking, there hasn’t been a low point. There are times things don’t work the way I had anticipated but I don’t allow what is not working dictate my mood and happiness.
Do you feel fulfilled as a musician?
Yes, I do to a larger extent. Reason is, there is more to me than just music. Music is the fuel that will eventually take the vehicle of my life to its final destination. There is more to music than just performance.
Why are you branching to mainstream singing and performance, especially being a man who has always been behind the scene as a recording musician and performer?
I believe so strongly that every diligent disciple will someday become an apostle. I have worked with so many people over the years, from Lagbaja, Asa, Cobhams, Sunny Neji, Tee-mac, Mike Aremu, Wole Oni, Bez, Iyanya, Omawunmi,Timi Dakolo, Waje and many others. I have come to realise that who sent you is more important. The timing for my message is now.
Who is your mentor?
I have many mentors in different areas; spiritual, economic, family, musical and academic mentors. But I can say categorically that Nathaniel Bassey has been a great influence on me since year 2000. I have been with him since then and the impact over me has been amazing.
What are your guiding principles and philosophies to life?
My principle is to love God and fellow man, hard work and devotion to my purpose.
Talk about your new single ‘Jehovah’. What influenced it?
My new single is actually a remix of the original which was released on May 20, 2012. It is one song in the album that I get a lot of comment, remark and appreciation for.
Why the collaboration with Tope Alabi? What spurred that?
Why the collaboration? A good question. I never met Tope Alabi before the idea of collaborating with her. I was inspired by the Spirit of God to feature her on this single and I went all out with a friend (Abiodun Akilo) who works with her on legal matters. That was how it all started.
How has the reception been?
To be very candid, the reception for this song has been mind blowing.
Any project/collaboration in the pipeline?
I am at the moment working on my second album project which is likely to feature some living legends of our time.
What is your assessment of the Nigerian music industry?
The music industry is a fast growing industry with its peculiarity, though too crowded because many people who don’t have business being there are now patrons. Regardless of the number, God is still spotting out His own and giving them a message and a voice.
How do you cope with the ladies as a young, skillful musician?
Coping with the opposite sex hasn’t been an issue all the way. People are as close to you as you want them to be.
Who are your trumpet models and why?
I have Clifford Brown as an international model, and Nathaniel Bassey as a Nigerian model. Also, I listen to other great players numerous to mention
Give us a take on how these guys affected your playing
I have studied Clifford Brown and Nathaniel over 10 years and I picked up techniques, improvisational approaches and melodic/harmonic sense.
How do their works inspire you or push you in new direction?
Their works are like foundations on which I built and then diversify into the inspirations I have.
You seem like thoroughly modern jazz musician- coming at music from so many different angles. Besides, your writing scores for movies and the jazz performance, what are the other parts to making ends meet as an uncompromising modern jazz player?
I must first say that being a musician is a great experience. I make ends meet from directing music and teaching choirs of churches, studio recordings and from teaching music.
What does it feel like living with the trumpet?
With the trumpet, I have met some many people and I have also been to places. All thanks to the Almighty.
Engineers that don’t work with horn players much often don’t understand the difficulties or the techniques for getting a great sound. I understand that you have strong feelings about how people mic your horn. How do you balance your sound?
This is a very technical question. Well, sound as a medium of music is what determines how appealing an instrument is. Every instrument has its own sound and with this knowledge I make sure every amplification doesn’t take away the natural sound, which is what is tweaked a little here and there.
You have toured with many artistes, what was it like touring with these groups and what challenges did you have staying in shape as a Christian?
Touring is fun and every great musician look forward to it. I toured with Lagbaja, Asa, Sunny Neji, Mike Aremu and Sotiris Papadopoulous.