Wanlov the Kubolor needs no introduction, unless you are a foreigner. He is a man of many parts-musician, video director, songwriter, actor and a social commentator. Earlier this month, the Department of Sound, a podcast show hosted by Mutombo DaPoet caught up with Wanlov and had an extensive conversation on a variety of issues; from politics, music, colonialism, economic development to religion.
In this article, I highlight 7 important issues that caught my attention during the interview. Here it is:
ON HELPING OTHER ARTISTES: Wanlov has worked with many up and coming artistes, mostly those whose talents has caught his attention. ‘I show artistes how I record myself, how I do my clips. The only level I get them to though is to give them a finished product; be it finished videos or finished song, putting it on YouTube, tweet about it’.
With regards to shooting videos for artistes, Wanlov revealed he charges only production cost because ‘it’s hard to put a price’ on the work he does for artistes he likes. For instance, Wanlov said he incurred a loss of GHc 30 (USD 8) after shooting Azizaa’s “Black Magic Woman” video which received international attention.
ON RELIGION: Wanlov’s views on organized religion especially Christianity remains very controversial. He explained his reasons: ‘When I speak about pastors, I’m usually addressing those who are fleecing the sheep…those turning human beings into factory workers, just making money for them (mega church pastors), a contradiction to what pastors of old who were selfless and honest in their dealings, though acknowledges there are some genuine and helpful pastors around.
ON RECORDING HIS ALBUMS: It might have sounded surprising and incredulous if someone had said it. Coming from the man himself, it was very revealing. On the difference between recording in US and Ghana, Wanlov provided this interesting answer ‘I’ve never been to a studio before to record any personal projects’.
His major debut album ‘Green Card’ was recorded in SeVen’s (a producer) bedroom studio in New Jersey and his bedroom studio in Los Angeles. He has however, visited studios to lay a verse for other artistes’ projects.
ON THE LIVE PERFORMANCE SCENE IN GHANA AND ABROAD: According to Wanlov, he and other artistes get invited or tour Europe and other continents often because of the kind of music they do, which the foreign audience love to see or hear. His music has identity (organic and Ghanaian/African) and messages that resonate with European audience, since ‘the West fantasizes rebels and encourage that’.
On the question of Ghanaians appreciating live shows, Wanlov observed that there is a healthy underground live music scene in the city where artistes could play each week. These artistes-mostly underground, end up playing more gigs in a year than some of their established counterparts who wait on the big shows.
ON PAYOLA: Wanlov has been an advocate against payola. In his estimation, ‘payola is evil’ and ‘denies good creations from coming out. He pinned this to the fact that Ghanaians love popular hits and payment of payola ensures that radio and TV stations continuously play these songs to ‘hypnotize the public to accept certain songs’.
Art, to him ‘is a very fragile thing and takes many forms. It is the reason why people are tuning in to radio and TV’. He adds that if everything is seen as advertisement, then arts is compromised. He urged radio stations to rather encourage and showcase talents with good messages to their listeners and help these struggling artistes to earn something (money). He called on radio and TV stations to pay royalties to artistes rather than taking money from artistes.
ON CORRUPTION AND DEVELOPMENT: The traditional African System of living (human African factor) which is ‘communal’ in nature promotes and encourages corruption because of the many human interactions compared to the ‘nucleic’ system (less people contact) existing in the Western countries according to Wanlov. The absence of many direct human contacts and the almost perfect system means taxes paid are used for development. Unlike in Ghana or Africa where taxes paid end up in the pockets of individuals, denying us (people) of the development we expect from government.
ON FUTURE PROJECTS: Wanlov outlined some of the projects he is working on and intentions for the near future. These include working on more videos, a FOKN Bois album as well as the writing the 3rd installment of Coz Ov Moni (the first pidgin musical). He plans on working on a movie ‘Adventures of Pias Killer Mensah’ and a fictional music documentary on rapper Yaa Pono. He has plans to adapt and direct Ayikwei Armah’s novels 2000 Seasons and Healers into big budget feature films.
Listen to the full interview below