‘Everybody else is thinking outside the box. Sometimes being the ugly duckling is the way to go. It’s not easy at the initial stages but eventually when we all fly onto the plaques of The Greatest Musicians from Ghana, we will all look beautiful’
WHENEVER YOU HEAR A BEAT WITH intercom voice – ‘ROGER THAT’- either at the beginning or end of a song, then you know NEL MAGNUM (Roger Ebo Quansah) produced it. The young, talented music producer, who has handled productions for artistes such as E.L, C-Real and J.Town among many others is set to release his 2nd album.
Nel Magnum was kind enough to grant my request for an interview. The interview spanned such topics as his life, his work and most importantly his sophomore album scheduled for release on September, 25th.
TELL ME A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF ESPECIALLY WHAT MANY DON’T ALREADY KNOW?
Wow, this is like delving into uncharted territories. I am an introvert sometimes and an extrovert at other times. Honestly I don’t understand this part about me. I like to write poems, mostly sexual ones and I like to dream a lot. I regard myself as an optimistic realist, and conformity has never been a thing for me. I love the beach and the open seas, I love space and space adventures, but I have never seen any of Star Wars or Star Trek movies. I love architecture, I love the colour red but I hate it when I see a lady clad in a red dress. It turns me into some sort of a voyeur. And least I forget, I love to travel and I wish that one day I will spend some time in a Samurai village in Japan and also in the picturesque mountains of Canada.
WHAT/WHO INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A MUSIC PRODUCER AND WHEN WAS THAT?
What inspired me firstly was curiosity, and who inspired me was a friend called Dela DeYoungster who introduced me to FL Studio. That was back in 2004 at St. Thomas Aquinas. I took it more serious when I couldn’t find a job. Then later, the power to be able to steal a person’s attention and bless their imaginations with sounds.
HOW DID THE AFFILIATION WITH MIXDOWN STUDIO HAPPEN? HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WITH THEM?
It was through a good friend called Jaliil. He told me C-Real wanted someone to work with, and I took the offer. I’ve been with MixDown for close to four years now.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU TO MAKE A BEATS? DO YOU PERFORM ANY ‘RITUALS’ BEFORE SITTING BEHIND YOUR PC TO MAKE MUSIC?
Well it’s mostly the thought that I can make a beat and another person would wish they can steal it or wish it was their work. I feel like that sometimes when I hear someone’s work and I think to myself this is quite crazy, ugly and nasty. Most often, these are my honest words for describing a very good work done. This inspires me a lot.
The only ‘ritual’ I perform is to tell myself to enjoy this journey of creation and also to tell my mind to let go off me and let me do this on my own. Another thing, my mind is there to create a world safe for me. But creativity is abundant on the other side of the fence where it’s not safe.
Creativity sometimes spans across a wide spectrum of taboos and unconventionalities, which isn’t always open to the weak of heart. I strive to be different, just as everybody else is. But I sometimes don’t bother thinking outside the box because there’s enough room in the box for me to spread my wings. Why? Because everybody else is thinking outside the box. Sometimes being the ugly duckling is the way to go. It’s not easy at the initial stages but eventually when we all fly onto the plaques of The Greatest Musicians from Ghana, we will all look beautiful.
THE MOST DIFFICULT OR CHALLENGING BEAT(S) YOU’VE MADE AND FOR WHOM?
This might sound a bit condescending of me, but I got to say that the most difficult beat I made wasn’t for anybody. I had nobody in mind when I was creating it. And I wouldn’t even say it was that difficult. It just was something different and I gave it to E.L. That was my first production for the musician. Originally, I called it ‘Rock Ambition’. It had a place on my first tape. But when I gave it to EL, the song that came out was called ‘Temptations’. And it was the original soundtrack to Sparrow Productions’ first installment of the Adams Apples movie series. It is a good song. I do believe that in art it’s not about how difficult it is, or how long it takes, or how the composition came about, but it’s mostly about how you honestly feel about the artwork and if you put in enough work to make it feel the way it does.
WHICH ONE ARTISTE (DEAD OR ALIVE) WILL YOU WISH TO PRODUCE FOR AND WHY?
Michael Buble. Why because, that will be more like opening another facet of my personality to the world. His kind of music is something I’ve enjoyed over the past years. It’s beautiful, amazing and full of emotion, and to produce for him will mean I will need to learn to play instruments, like guitars and pianos. That will also mean i will learn to compose without the aid of a DAW (digital audio workstation). It’s simply an opportunity to opt and tune me into a better person, musically.
WHICH PRODUCER(S) WILL YOU LOVE TO WORK WITH OR SPEND A DAY WITH?
Pharrell Williams, Timbaland and Hans Zimmer (who is more of a composer than a producer). I wouldn’t want to work with them just yet. I’m yet to reach their status. But I would want to sit in on a creative session with the three musicians together and learn how they go about doing what they do best. That will be so much of an honour to be in the presence of these audio gods.
TELL ME ABOUT YOUR UP-COMING TAPE (ALBUM NAME, NUMBER OF TRACKS, INSPIRATION BEHIND IT) AND WHAT MAKES IT DIFFERENT FROM #12 BEAT TAPE?
It’s an introduction to the other one of my two faces and the second phase of my ascension to greater heights. I added sounds in this one (I didn’t do in my first tape). I love movies and video games, and I personally believe these two are the windows to see into the future of our physical world. And I want to be part of these two industries with music that will bring out the true emotions of an audience who will marvel at such creativity. I chose to call it (the album) Heat Waves and will be released on Sept, 25th for free download. But there isn’t any significant and mystical meaning behind the name.
The inspiration behind it I will leave it to my listener’s imagination. Whatever it inspires in you is what inspired me. I want to know what people feel about it. I would also want to hear what my fellow musicians do with it. There are 12 songs on this tape and once again there is a special place for Mr. Barley.
WHO DO YOU ADMIRE THE MOST IN THIS WORLD?
I admire two people most in this world. First is that pretty teacher who kissed me and told me that was my birthday present. I admire her so much because of the belief she had in me back in junior high school and her honesty whenever she speaks to me. I’m not gonna drop her name, but I’m sure she will someday read this and smile to herself. The other person I admire most in this world is Hans Florian Zimmer. I admire him simply because of the fact he is the best in the whole world at what he does without any formal training in music composition. If you’ve watched The Lion King, Gladiator, The Dark Knight Rises, The Man of Steel and The Last Samurai and you fell in love with the music of these movies, you will understand why this man is the G.O.A.T (greatest of all time).
IF GIVEN THE CHANCE TO GO BACK INTO ANY MUSIC ERA WHICH WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
Wow! Hahahahaha! Well, I’d always wanted to visit the era and the very day and moment the first drum was struck, giving birth to music. I want to know what’s inspired music. What inspired man to be a creator of worlds. Worlds filled with love and emotions, adventure and poetry. What inspired man to become gods like Osibisa, Beethoven, Mozart, Fela Kuti, FOKN Bois, Hans Zimmer, Pharrell Williams, Timbaland, Kanye West and Missy Elliott, to name a few. And also to find out what’s inspiring would-be gods like myself, RedMic, C-Real, Amaa Rae, Lyanna Lantette, Alexia and my first child.
YOUR HONEST OPINION ON THE CURRENT STATE OF MUSIC IN GHANA AND WHETHER MUSIC PRODUCERS ARE EARNING THE RESPECT THEY DESERVE?
Firstly, there music and there’s noise. Most Ghanaian ‘music’ is pure noise. It’s only a handful of musicians in Ghana who can honestly remind a rational human being that music is supposed to sound good. I like to think that some of these noise makers know deep down in their selves that their music is as shallow as the cup of their palms. Honest opinion. I know I have pissed of a few but the truth is, their objections are Graphic and Times (maize and groundnut. Its noise only in your mouth). Truth hurts.
Ghanaian music producers aren’t earning the respect they deserve because of some factors with which I shall state just two. One is, the President of MUSIGAH has amassed enough wealth and fat, through greed and lack of respect to the Ghanaian musician, and now feels too big (literally) to care about the music industry. Honest opinion. It’s rather frustrating and exasperating to see all these talents go to waste.
Two is, many Ghanaian musicians are lazy and ungrateful. After the work and dedication a producer puts into your work, they spit in your face and pay you like they did you a favour. And even when you do them the favour and produce for free, they act like they appreciate but truly their respect for you has waned depreciated. Honest opinion. But all of these will change. Thanks to respectable producers like Waxi and Panji, who aren’t busy stealing other people’s music, but are busy, fighting for a change. The Ghana music industry will stand. AMEN!
Thanks for your time and I wish you all the best.
Sway thanks for this opportunity.
.Download Heat Wave here http://bit.ly/1vkH8d1
follow him on twitter @Nel_Magnum