The winner of the recently concluded eighth season of the Nigerian Idol music competition, Victory Gbakara, speaks to TOFARATI IGE about his time in the competition, plans for his music career and other issues
What was the first thought that ran through your mind when you were declared the winner of the show?
It felt unreal. I woke up this morning (Monday), and I still did not understand what was happening. It is like the experience hits one in stages. This morning, I still exclaimed to myself that so, I won the show. I am so excited, and I thank Nigerians for voting for me.
You have spoken about your intention to stay original. However, the music industry is show business and is largely perception-based. How do you intend to balance both factors?
My originality is anchored on my views and faith. I am committed towards spreading the name of Jesus Christ. Meanwhile, this is also about spreading love, because that is what Jesus stands for. And, I believe everybody can relate to love. If I can spread as much happiness as I can, it would become mainstream. The reason amapiano is currently one of the biggest genres of music out of Africa is because whenever one hears it, it induces happy feelings in one. As far as I’m concerned, one cannot be sad and listen to amapiano. I believe that my sound evokes that kind of feeling too.
I would basically be creating music that everybody would be able to relate with.
In what ways did your time on the show impact on your career, especially your stagecraft?
During the theatre week of the show, I was still trying to find what the audience liked about me, and I realised that they liked my smile. People told me that I was always smiling when on stage. So, I decided to explore that and other factors.
I also learnt that one can do anything to project one’s craft, as long as is not immoral, illegal or against one’s faith, you can do anything. During the show, I performed genres such as reggae and rap.
I was also determined that if it would take me as many as five hours to rehearse every day, I would do that. That mindset contributed to my growth.
Another important lesson I learnt was that the biggest resource on earth is not money, it is people. One always needs good people around one. Those are the people would elevate one and replenish one’s strength. They would also help to keep one’s mindset in check. I could not have got to this point without good people. No matter how talented, hardworking or disciplined one is, one needs people. One should also have a good character.
Will you be releasing any songs soon?
I have written a couple of songs that I will like to ‘rush’ into the studio and release. But, there is a lot of work to be done, so my fans should be expectant.
How would you sum up your experience during the show?
The journey was taxing— mentally and physically. As much as we were comfortable, they (organisers) also did not want us to be too comfortable and forget the reason we there. A lot was done to prepare us mentally and physically. One had to have strong motivation, discipline and the right mindset to go through something that rigorous.
What was the most challenging part of the show for you?
That had to be standing on the stage every week to know who would be evicted. On a particular week, I had mentally booked a ride that would take me home, because I thought I would be evicted.
What did being on the show teach you about collaboration?
I learnt that we are actually complementing one another, not competing. The Sunday before the final, I and Precious collaborated on the song, ‘Stay’ by Rihanna, and one of the things we talked about was that, we were complementing one another. It was not about who sang better, even though I think she does. Rather, we focused on how we could work together to produce something, that would make us both shine.
Now that we have that mindset, I am sure we know that whenever we have to collaborate with other people, it is not about trying to outshine anybody. We would rather be working together to come up with something good.
You mentioned that the show was mentally taxing, but now that you’re popular, you would be even under more scrutiny. Are you prepared for that?
Yes, I am prepared for the scrutiny. The more challenges that are thrown at one, the stronger one becomes. As much as there is scrutiny, there is also love. I would make sure I listen to both the good (praise) and the bad (criticism); and filter the both.
It does not mean that when someone criticises one, one should stop listening to that person, or regard it as nonsense. One ought to learn consistently, even from people that don’t like one, and grow.
What is your unique selling point?
My selling point is my originality. I don’t have to move with the trends, although one has to evolve along with the industry. But, one does not have to sacrifice originality for that. If one is honest with one’s craft and devote oneself to it, people will feel just that.
There have been quite a number of artistes that won competitions like this but did not have successful careers. What do you intend to do differently?
I intend to do that by giving priority to originality, consistency, hard work, and most importantly, my faith. I am going to be as honest as I can be with my music, and I know that is more than enough to touch the hearts of people, and progress.
I cannot speak for other people that had participated in competitions like this. Different things could have happened, but I am praying, planning and working towards giving my best.
When did you discover your singing talent and how did develop it prior to appearing on Nigerian Idol?
That honour goes to my mother, Bishop (Dr) Juliet Gbakara. She put me in the choir while I was nine. Back then, I could not sing to save my life. She put me in the choir, she did not want me to be running around in the church, while the sermon and other important activities were going on. My mother takes the credit for discovering my talent.
How much did you social media followership grow from when you went on the show till now that you are out?
Of all the contestants, I think I had the least amount of social media followers. When someone like Precious Mac had about 13,000 followers, I had just four thousand. As of last week, I had about 5,000 followers, but when I made it to the top three, it increased to 5,500. Right now, I have over 16,000. It is really amazing.
On entering the show, I was actually worried about my social media presence, because other contestants had vibrant followership.
Which artistes would you like to collaborate with?
The include Wizkid, Burna Boy and Rema. I love their professionalism.