Known for his capacity to blend contemporary music with the African sound, gospel artiste Timi Godfrey has officially launched ROX Nation, targeted at providing a platform for young talents in the industry. In this exclusive interview with Sunday Ehigiator, he spoke on the initiative among other issues
How long has this project been on?
It has been on for about 15 years. Basically, I don’t want to jump or rush into doing stuffs because I realised it is better to gather enough experience as much as possible, to know what’s up with every part of the whole music industry. From recording as a producer to being an artiste, having been able to understand branding and the rest things that we have put together; so getting to this part has been a journey of all the experience that we have had. Also, working with international artistes and everything that we have done in the last 15 years, that is basically what has brought us to this point where we thought not just to become what others have done; when you become big, you don’t help anybody out, we thought of having a platform where we can help younger artistes. I never had that opportunity and that’s what has given birth to what is happening here today.
What does the acronym ROX Nation stand for?
ROX is actually Republic of Xtreem. The name of my group then which I started with initially was XTREEM. So, the way we think, we think like a nation. It’s not just a company, it a community, it’s a nation, it’s a people. So, we decided to put it as ROX Nation. The thought pattern is that we are building a nation; from the entertainment part to lifestyle, movies and everything. And it is an international brand. Already, we are registering it in America, South Africa and in the UK.
You are also doing some sort of Talent Show at the moment; can you tell us more about it?
It’s called Sound Check Africa. I gave them Sound Check because, before we do a major show, at the point where the show starts properly, there is what we call sound check musically; where people come and check everything and get ready. So, we decided to put together a platform. We believe that the world is a stage, but what we are setting up is a piece of sound check. To prepare them to just nurture them and put together a couple of things here and there before they get there. I am a bit tired of us always going to America to go and get brands, franchise them, here such as The Voice, America Got Talents and the rest of that; and change it to Nigeria because it’s airing in Nigeria, so why can’t we have our own product, our own brand? And put it together in such a way that we can actually franchise it in other countries. I am looking forward to when Sound Check would become, Sound Check America, Sound Check Columbia, Sound Check different places because, it is a totally different concept and, I am not apologetic about it that it is from Nigeria and proudly of Nigerian brand, that people would come from all over the world to come and pick because nobody has done what we are trying to do; as you have seen we just pick a bit of it, because this is our first time, from close to 500 people, we have dropped them to about to about a hundred and something, and now we just have 30 people. Those 30 people will stay in a camp for a sort of massive and intensive training for two weeks before we go to the next level of what we are doing. So, it is totally fresh and different concept. And we are able to use that to give younger people opportunity to find expression with their gift. Whether you are doing gospel music or circular music, we are open for all kinds of music. We want to train them properly to know what they are doing, and we hope to do this every year and not just one, two, three, four or five years; it is going to last forever if there is anything like that, and as frequent as every year. This year’s own would end latest by first week of May. That is when we would announce the winner. The winner is going to get a record deal worth N10 million, a cash reward, and a couple of other things that come with it. We have a lot of company we want to collaborate with which we are about finalising, second and third place would as well get something; between fourth to tenth would all get a single recorded and released. We just want to give people opportunity.
During this launching, you also signed along some new artistes. Can you give us their bio?
We are bringing on four artistes. One of them is SMJ; he is a producer and likewise an artiste. His name is Samuel Gibson. We have Okey Sokay, we have IBK and then we have Blessing. They are four amazingly tremendously talented guys. Three of them have been working with me within eight to 15 years, and just being under my platform, they have been able to gather so much over 10 years. And these guys have not released anything by themselves, but because they have been under my platform and I give them opportunity, every time they get out to do stuffs; I mean I go for shows, and they come out, and after the show and I am going, people walk up to me for pictures and a lot of people likewise go to them for pictures and autographs like they are all superstars. So they are all superstars by themselves. Like I said, it’s a process; it was very intentional when we were building this whole structure that, they have an opportunity to become something, and the last person is one tremendous guy also; that’s Okey Sokay. I have watched him grow, and I thought giving him the opportunity to shine more.
What music philosophy is to be expected from ROX Nation; strictly gospel?
As I have always posted on all our pages, the world is waiting and we are trying to reach out to the world. ROX Nation is not a Nigerian brand, it is an international brand. We have been able to put together not just the label, we have live recording studio, we have a digital recording studio, we have an administrative office where people would work whether as project managers, or brand managers. And different structures that we have set up which we have people already working right now, close to 12 to 15 staff already as the company is just about to start. So we do other things. I am a gospel artiste, if you ask me; I am just a proud artiste that does good music whether it’s praise and worship, love song, I do all sorts. But for ROX Nation as a label, we are going to be signing on different artistes. It doesn’t have to be gospel alone, we are not doing gospel alone, we are doing guys that does love songs, party songs, traditional songs, hip-hop and whatever style you do. The thing that we don’t do is; if you go vulgar, or if you talk dirty. We don’t allow that. So we are training our guys to be able to do songs and talk clean genuine things from their souls, or heart and not say a thing that would mess up the younger generations. What we have out there now are people shooting naked videos and all of those things and we are not helping the next generation. So, we are going to take care of all of that.
Deviating a bit From ROX Nation launching; is there any other projects we are expecting from you?
We started this year with Sound Check Africa, which is the reality show that we are doing right now, the next major project that we are doing is going to be FEARLESS! It would be the third edition. The international artiste we are bringing for this third edition; we are not going to expose that yet. After that, we are doing a music movie, that is very huge, it has never been done the way we are going to don it. We are already working on the synopsis and all of that. We talking with a lot of companies to collaborate with us for something that would express African sound with music and a very emotional story; you know how people move from grass to grace, and 40 per cent of the story would be my story, the rest would be fictional so to encourage a lot of young Nigerians and Africans. We are going to be having some international actors that would be part of it. So, it is something that has never happened before. So these are some major projects we have and the tour that we are going to be doing towards the end of the year. We are starting from universities, then African countries, then all over the world.