Rising Afro-pop singer and Music Producer, Alvin Spiff chats with iAsk (Ukay Udoh) on showbiz in Port Harcourt and the ‘Chicken foot challenge’
“we barely get that here… Port Harcourt tends to be a political State not really into entertainment biz… politics wants to kill us with oil….The new school artistes are doing so well, shows pop up most times. We can say after Lagos it should be Port Harcourt.”
…was surfing through bits of this black led political and governance dramas on social media, few of which I anonymously report when my publicist friend chatted-in a niche to create stories from conversations with song writers and lyricist, record producers and other creatives in the entertainment space. I responded with an affirmative try and my task pane in the chat was …typing when the next message from the publicist was Alvin Spiff’s contact.
One of the most interesting things about the music industry is the way names, genres, lyrics and beats evolves, creating airplay for all ranks in the industry; the gatekeepers, the A’ list, the looming giants, and the new kids in the bloc.
Alvin Spiff is one of such talents getting airplay in Port Harcourt and beyond, and looking forward to hitting up with the A’ list in Lagos, the country’s entertainment hub. Alvin Spiff speaks with iASK of the thrives and push of the music Industry in Port Harcourt.
The oil rich city of Port Harcourt is not in the back seat of entertainment, as the city enjoys the glamour of Music/Comedy/Award shows. Festivals like the CarniRiv, with a good number of radio/tv stations and cinemas providing a space for creatives and it’s audience, but Alvin Spiff speaks of the industry still pushing. The city has birthed outstanding and looming giants in the music industry and entertainment in general; the likes of Burna boy, Duncan Mighty, Waconzy, Mr. 2kay, Muna, Idahams, Omah Lay, Lyrikal, 1daBanton, Dandizy and others with more to come.
Just like many other names in professional music, Port Harcourt based afro-pop singer, songwriter and music producer biologically known as “Magnus Osaronwafor Alvin” better known as Alvin Spiff and musically credited as ASDT( Alvin Spiff did this) started from the church choir as the male lead singer to mastering the art of instrumentation; drums and keyboard, and later bursting out for the world to feel his vibe.
At 8:47pm sunday evening after two days hook up for a chat, Alvin speaks with iASK on his career and the music industry in Port Harcourt.
There’s something in a name. Alvin Spiff sounds non-Nigerian especially for the music industry, infact at first I felt it’s a foreign art. What inspired the name ?
Ok, you already know my biological name, the name “Alvin” came from there. Spiff is from a group i started with “D’ Spiffyx.” We were three in number and we had Spiff at the end of our names.
So, how about the group ?
It’s the group i started professional singing with. The group doesn’t exist anymore, We’ve all gone solo.
You released your first EP in March, with six songs, how long have you been doing professional music and which of your songs in the EP bangs for you?
Professionally it’s ten years now,
I listen to ‘Ronke’, ‘Ja rule’ and ‘Who U Help’ more often on my EP, they are often on my mixtape and airplay.
You titled your first EP “Chicken Foot”. What inspired the title and the six songs on the EP ?
The whole inspiration about ‘Chicken Foot’ came from the movie Prison break (Season 2) i guess when Michael Scofield was in Sona. There was this challenge where a chicken foot was tied with a thread together with the strings. They used it to challenge and settle scores in the prison between inmates. Chicken Foot as mine is a challenge between myself and myself; my new self and my old self. Trying to come out better in the entertainment industry, stepping up and trying new things. That’s how the title of the EP came about.
See Also>> Alvin spiff – Chicken Foot Ep
The six songs on the EP has an inspiration behind them. The first track ‘Who U Help: comes from something I see everyday in my environment, My LGA “Eleme”. People seem to love what you are doing but they don’t support, they don’t try to better you. They just see you and hail you from a distance, they don’t support, they don’t invite you to activities where you show yourself, they feel you’re a local content. So with money and everything Who U Help ? My people are wealthy but they rarely help. Had to compose it as a reggae track to keep it evergreen.
Ja rule is a little story behind my life. You know I’m a very shy guy when talking to girls most times. The song is one part of me in a conversation with one girl, so that’s a love song
The other one has the name of my village on it “Okoju” (…laughs) a little bit crazy. It is really appreciated in my area here. Okoju means “Yansh”, just like when Skales said “how do you call booty in your language ? (…laughs) mine is called Okoju. So, it’s about appreciating the back side of a woman and you know Port Harcourt girls got crazy back sides (…laughs)
They other ones were more of the party content, the life and the afro music in Nigeria, more of love, Ronke kind of party.
You have a National Diploma in Engineering, one of the most desired courses and profession in Nigeria. What inspired you into professional music ?
Music has always been part of me from childhood to the church then on the streets for the world to feel my vibes. So, the engineering part of me is the second side of me.
Your genre is afropop, which names in the industry inspires you and gives you something to count on ?
2face, Maleek Berry, Burna boy. I love good music, so I listen to most of the Nigerian artists and producers making hits in the game.
You are also a music producer. Does singing and producing go well for you or you do one more than the other ? Also, how long have you been producing ? Mention a number of songs you have produced.
Both of them works well for me I have been into music production for about eight years now I produced all 6 tracks on my EP and other big names in Port Harcourt.
As a producer what’s your view of afropop and other genres in Nigeria
There’s one thing about Nigerian music industry right now, it is afro with all the slides and spices it is making waves everywhere, its a bomb. Just like Burna boy said in one of his interviews. He said “afro music is a base just like a pizza with a whole lot of different species on it”, so the afrobeat is a base and if you listen carefully, every music in Nigeria right now, you’ll see a flair of afro music on it. If they hitting a trap, either an urban part of the trap, you’ll hear a little bit of afro vibe on it. If it’s any genre you’ll definitely get a vibe of afro on it and it makes it come out better. Afro anything is wonderful in Nigerian music. The international and Western part of the industry is actually diving in, trying to make their music instrumentals look like the Nigerian afro kind of thing and is already worldwide. It is something that has come to stay. As a producer l’ll say whatever you do, let it have an afro base.
Let’s talk about the music industry in Port Harcourt, one of Nigeria’s top commercial cities where there’s space for every talent and the city has produced a good number of the country’s big artiste including Burna Boy, Duncan Mighty, 1da banton and of recent, Omah Lay, among others. What can you say about music and entertainment in Port Harcourt ?
Awesome, pushing towards making it as big as Lagos. Our entertainment industry is a little bit not like Lagos because Port Harcourt tends to be a political State, not really deep into entertainment biz. But the new generation artiste are really trying, shows comes up, talents have been up, new school arts doing so well, the new age is Killing it so well. Shows buzz up most times. We can say, after Lagos it should be Port Harourt. Last year was a bomb, the bole festival, Akpajoisfun, Ogoni Day and other shows, which actually promotes talented people in the area. A-list artiste perform in Port Hacourt and do their events. The likes of AY has had a couple of events in Port Hacourt.
But do you think top arts from Port Hacourt that reside their music trade and talent in Lagos have affected the growth of the industry in anyway?
Yes! Top artiste like Burna boy, 1da banton, Idahams are doing well and it’s affecting the growth of the industry in Port Harcourt and the industry is growing big too as we have some hardworking new school artiste raising the standard of the city.
One of the things that grows the industry in Lagos is sponsorship and support from multi-nationals. Has Port Harcourt city enjoyed such ? Are there companies that support and sponsor the music trade and organize music shows ?
Nope, we barely get that here, a lot of artiste hustle their way up. That’s one of the major problem defying the growth of the industry here..
What do you suggest can be done for the industry to boom and get to it’s peak ?
What we can do is what we are doing right now to hit it up and start booming, making sure companies around engage in leisure activities most times and create time for fun thereby organising shows and music events. If the companies come together most times every quarter of the year and throw a gig to encourage the artiste in the State, I think that’s one of the things Lagos is doing; everybody tends to move towards the entertainment part but here in Port Harcourt (…sighs) politics & Oil wants to kill us. Not that there is no money, there is so much money in Port Harcourt but they are not supporting the entertainment industry and it’s Killing the artist and their talent. So, I believe if they can be doing like that it will help, it will grow talents. They should check up artiste on social media, check the audience of artiste making waves and help them because they barely have funds to push their content. It will really help to boom and grow the entertainment level.
How has the covid-19 pandemic affected the industry ? Maybe positively or negatively
Oh! The positive part is that right now everybody is on social media, every artiste should be releasing new content because people are looking for what to see on social media, people are looking for update. So if you have good content, you’ll be figured out.
Negatively this pandemic is affecting the industry, no event. The social distancing is not working out well with us, money no enter person hand as e suppose enter. One thing about the entertainment industry, you’ll have to move from place to place but with this pandemic, we can’t move.
Oh (exhales) Spiff, it’s really been amazing speaking with you. Finally which artistes do you look forward to working with and what more are we expecting from you in the coming years ?
I would love to work with the likes of, Maleek Berry, Burna Boy, Mayorkun, 1daBanton, Wizkid, Davido and Biwom. Everybody is so on fire working hard. I’ll like to work with them. I can fit in anywhere in any genre. I will be dropping beats for them too. I will like to see them jump on my instrumentals. It’s gonna to be big.
More expectations from me, so many hits, so many fire, so many international collabos lined up right now; one in Jamaica, one in Ghana, USA. I tell my fans to be ready for international collabos, my plan is to hit the world, the world needs to hear my sound.
We look forward to great hits from you Alvin Spiff.