‘’It was about who compliments the song best rather than what names can we have on’’ – LYZA
Describing BRYAN THE MENSAH as one of the most hardworking rappers on the Ghanaian music scene sounds more like a cliché. His work ethic has been heralded by many cultural observers. Since breaking out in 2017 with the release of the highly critical “Friends With The Sun” album, the young rapper has exhibited tenacity, foresight, passion and growth; one project after the other.
Coupled with his music career is his relentless zeal for entrepreneurship. Each album or EP released has come with a marketing plan that includes the selling of merchandise on his own website. With streaming becoming the new business frontier for music distribution, BRYAN THE MENSAH is constantly finding ways to maximize that opportunity, through collaborations with other artists outside of Ghana (think ‘’Grease’’ with Nigeria’s Blaqbonez), as well as developing relationships with some of the continent’s music executives.
Behind BRYAN THE MENSAH’s march towards success is one name: LYZA.
The manager cum A&R is helping actualize the dreams of her artist. For three years, the two have forged a formidable team that handles every aspect of this evolving career: from the music making to the promotion of the finished work.
His new EP, “Not Going Outside” released today, would be his second in four months, dropping after “I Don’t Feel Like Going Out” (February 21, 2020). The latter and its title predicted what was to befall the world a month ahead: Global lock down caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Days before the release of “Not Going Outside”, I reached out to LYZA to discuss the EP, her expectations, the impact of COVID-19 on the team’s creativity and more importantly, the artwork for “Not Going Outside”.
How has the team being coping under these abnormal circumstances? In what ways or forms have you been spending your time?
Well, it’s been music releases and promotion since the release of our first EP for this year, which came out just around the time we were going on lockdown. We had to tweak the promotion and make it relatable as people were going through a lot during the period while still preparing for the next EP.
What new thing have you learnt about yourself during the COVID-19 lockdown?
That I can actually do everything I put my mind to. Actually, I knew that before but it was only as a thought. The lockdown saw me materializing them. Also, that I’m actually very good at scrabble aside being an office champion in UNO. (LYZA works with a reputable music streaming company).
“I Don’t Feel Like Going Outside”; did the EP do exactly what you expected in terms of streaming numbers and public responses?
I would have loved millions and millions of streams but to be honest the tape did well. The streams were good and the public responses were amazing. We had a lot of placement, attention and most importantly, new fans.
And, you are releasing the second installment “Not Going Outside”. What can you say about it, per roll out, marketing and maximizing the outcome?
As you already know this tape is just a part of the first. I just decided to split it and drop this section later. BRYAN THE MENSAH and the team have been fortunate to get a new distribution deal for this new tape and we believe that will be great.
Our roll out and plan is pretty simple: repeat everything we’ve done before that brings results, adapt new strategies, be consistent and be relatable when making promo content.
One striking thing about “Not Going Outside” is the artwork of the project. What is the idea behind it?
So, the idea was pretty straight forward: let the design communicate directly the title of the EP and make it better than that of ‘’I Don’t Feel Like Going Outside’’’s (IDFLGO). We realized that the IDFLGO artwork was good and people did listen to the tape just based on it.
How long did it take to come up with the idea and have all parties agreeing to shoot it? Do you know the number of versions that was created before this final one?
The picture in there was shot last year whilst shooting the ‘’Medicine’’ freestyle video. It was just BRYAN holding a tea cup. Everything in there is photoshopped. I did receive the first artwork from PLEGHISES and although it did represent the title of the EP, it most definitely wasn’t a very good fit for the artist and the kind of music that was in there. My only contribution was the balloons. The second and final work came and it was perfect.
Who shot the cover?
Bryan was photographed by Willy T and artwork was by PLEGHISES. (PLEGHISES is a multi-media company that has BRYAN as a partner).
Two things stick out about the artwork. First, there is a balloon which reminds me of the cover of ‘Friends With The Sun’. Did anything from previous singles influence the artwork for “Not Going Outside?”
Yes, yes it did. We are bringing the balloons back. Most of the recent pictures we shot with @1_kle (Klenam Production) has balloons in it, so there will be more balloons in a lot of our visuals going forward.
On “I Don’t Feel Like Going Out”, much of the songs were about making money. What are the themes on ”Not Going Outside?”
(Laughs). It’s still about making money but more like grinding, staying in your lane, and working towards your goals. Some of the songs touch on love; but generally motivation.
As the A&R for this project, how tough or easy was it for you to decide on the guest features on this project?
It was easy. Bryan handled a part in who he wanted and I handled mine. It was about who compliments the song best rather than what names we can have on. The arrangement of the tracks however took time. I had to listen to it back to back for weeks to make sure it’s seamless to the ear of a listener. I’m sure Bryan wanted to change the position of one of the songs but he listened and we settled on what’s listed now.
Beside BRYAN, LYZA PR, your agency is expanding its reach by working with other artists. Who have you worked with so far?
That’s just one of the things I decided to revamp during the lockdown. I usually just like to work with and for BRYAN, but this year I have worked with WurlD’s team and in talks with Mike Akoxs’ team in Australia; all very talented African artists.
How do you find the music PR scene? What are some of the challenges and advantages?
Advantages, it’s really good to put yourself out there in all forms of media and adapt to it, too. Downside is that timelines don’t meet sometimes, causing delays. Plus, we need a lot more credible outlets that genuinely want to push content. I say it only gets better from here.
Considering the level of success of “I Don’t Feel Like Going Out”, can this sequel outperform it?
‘’NOT GOING OUTSIDE’’ will outperform it by a wide margin..