Francis Atela: How Clarence Peters Made My Latest Single Spectacular



  • My Latest Single, Jankara, Is Product of My Childhood

Benue State isn’t short of music talents. Celebrated singers like Tuface Idibia have distinguished themselves. The new kid on the block, Francis Atela, also known as ‘Atela’ is a fresh talent from the state –who displayed his talents at the age of 14. Currently signed on Squeeze Records, he has released hit singles such as ‘Ojuju Calabar’ and ‘My Life’. He recently released a single titled, ‘Jankara’. In this interview with Azuka Ogujiuba, Atela talks about his latest single, life and his gaze at stardom

  • My Latest Single, Jankara, Is Product of My Childhood
  • I Took a Risk Starting New Genre of Music in Nigeria

Tell us a bit about yourself.                  My name is Francis Atela, I was born in Jos and I’m a native of Benue State. I grew up in the barracks as my dad was a police officer. Growing up was very adventurous. Growing up in the barracks meant I got to meet different children from all over Nigeria and this was really interesting because I learnt new things every day. I was a very curious boy and this got me into trouble with my mum a lot.

Could you tell us some interesting never before heard about you?

I like dogs because of their unflinching loyalty and how they remind me of happiness, playfulness and simplicity. I also have a thing for power bikes as I love the feel of the open roads, the adventure it brings and the feel of freedom thereafter.

How did you develop interest in music; was it a career path you had planned?

I joined the church choir at the age of 14 which is probably what made me realise I was interested in music. It helped me develop and train my voice. So I would say, yes! I did choose this career path, because I knew music was the direction I wanted to go in after joining the choir.

Did your experiences in life or background shape your music?

Yes. I believe my music tells a story of my culture and my childhood. I am all for happiness and I try to make people happy through my music. We all have our struggles and some sort of pain that we have been through or currently going through. I make music that can take people of this zone and from the daily struggles they face.

Which of your songs best describe you and why?

I think ‘My Life’ best describes me. Listening to the lyrics sometimes gives me hope when I’m feeling down and also keeps me positive: ‘It’s getting better, my world is changing. I am not alone, Oluwa bless me….’ Things have really changed in my life and I know the sky isn’t the limit for me. Clarence (Peters) also shot the video and the feedback from the song was out of this world. It is definitely a song you should listen to for encouragement.

What was the inspiration behind the single ‘Jankara’?

‘Jankara’ is a result of my childhood. There was this game we used to play called ‘Jankara market’. At the barracks at night, we would all gather and play games like ‘Ten-ten, tinko tinko and Jankara market’. Jankara market was my favourite game – once I started playing this game, I did not care about anything but my happiness. I relate this to life now that I have grown up. In this world there is so much to worry about: we tend to forget about all the good things life has to offer. Hence, the beginning of the song: ‘Life no be a serious something still no be a play something.’ This song is all about having fun and encouraging my fans to have fun even whilst carrying out their day-to-day activities. We have to stay happy. I get my inspiration from anything and anywhere. I just think about things that I love or things on my mind. Generally, I get inspiration from everyday life and this makes it easy for me to come up with music.

As an upcoming artiste, what challenges have you encountered?

Being an upcoming artiste is very tough. But I love the challenges that brings because its’ all part of the process. I know that nothing comes easy. The Nigerian industry doesn’t allow much variety in music. If we look at rap for instance, it has been a struggle for many rap artistes to stay relevant in the industry. So for me, delving into this completely different genre – Afro-pop with a country vibe which is not necessarily recognised all over Nigeria – was a risk. I wasn’t sure if people would like it. Nevertheless, I do not allow these challenges define or limit me. I remain focused on perfecting my craft and growing my brand. I also have an amazing team, Squeeze Records, which is a very structured record label. They have processes in place that make it easy for me to focus on being an artiste while they focus on everything else which is really helpful.

Tell us about your first stage performance.

My first performance on stage was scary. I didn’t know what people would think. There were so many thoughts going through my mind: would they like my music? Would they all be screaming ‘boo’? Even though I grew up singing in the church choir and performing in front of people, this was a completely different experience. It turned out all my fears were just in my head and the audience really loved my music.

What is your most unforgettable moment so far?

My most unforgettable moment in regards to my career is the day I got signed to my record label, Squeeze Records. I was very happy due to the circumstances under which I got signed. They discovered me at an event in IOS at Alliance France. I will never forget that day.

Tell us about people you have worked with, who’s been your favourite so far?

I have worked with a lot of producers and directors, from Dj Coblam, T-Spice, (Clarence) Peters who produced my latest single, Jankara, and Unlimited LA, who shot my first video and some others.

Who would you like to work with in the future and why?

I am definitely looking into a lot of collaborations this year. But the one person I would love to collaborate with is Chris Brown. It has always been my dream to collaborate with him. His talent is incredible.

What do you do when you’re not making music?

If I am not making music, I’m doing something related. I do a lot of training with my team – working on my sound and my voice. Everything I do really revolves around my music and growing my brand.

Is there anyone special in your life right now?

Yes, of course, my mother. She’s amazing and has always been a great supporter of my work. Her encouragement and prayers keep me going.

Lastly, what should your fans look forward to this year?

A lot of exciting stuff; I am working on many music projects – some of which include collaborations. I cannot wait to show the world what I have in store.

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