Nigerian artist obsessed with singing – and Disney

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For Atayero, visuals in videos are an integral part of creating music. Adeoluwa Atayero

Adeoluwa Atayero grew up surrounded by music.

by Florence Hwang, Contributor

Adeoluwa Atayero recalls the Space Jam DVD his mom bought him when he was a boy.

“I would wake up in the middle of the night and I’d be singing at the top of my lungs,” he recalled. “Every single day. It used to really piss [my mom] off because I was just like this little kid, probably singing incorrectly, always yelling. I don’t remember what I was doing, but I do remember that song. Always, always played it.”

He grew up in Nigeria surrounded by music and singing gospels in church. His uncle often played music for him, but Atayero is the only musician in his immediate family. It wasn’t until he was in high school that he began to take singing more seriously.

“I did an independent study project, to make an album,” he said. “Making an album turned out to be harder than I thought it would be in my 15-year-old brain. So it was an EP of seven songs. That was my first real body of work released into the world.”

Atayero has been making music ever since.

It was also in high school where he discovered pop music, like Michael Johnson, Whitney Houston and Beyonce, music icons that he greatly admires. 

Another big influence on his work is Nigerian music. Currently, his favourite artist is Adekunle Gold. Atayero admires Gold’s evolution as an artist.

Gospel music has also continued to have an impact on him. 

“The storytelling aspect of gospel music is something I’ve carried with me consciously with me for the majority of my life,” said Atayero, who will receive his Masters in Journalism from the University of Regina this fall.

Along with these musical influences, he has a fascination with everything related to Disney.

“I have my obsession with Disney Channel music and Disney Channel pop, which for the life of me, I thought I would outgrow but I am still unable to outgrow … So even to today like there’s like the few songs I have the Frozen Twoalbums soundtrack on my phone,” he said. 

One of the reasons he’s a huge fan of Disney music is because of the way the songs are built. They create this escapism and fantasy that feels very real to him. 

“I think that those songs have some of the most memorable lyrics because even though like again, they’re Disney and it’s like manufactured pop, whatever. But, like, I still feel like there’s nostalgia,” he said. 

Another element of Disney that is appealing to Atayero is the escapism it provides – it reminds him of what he loves to get out of his own music. When he is on stage, he says he feels transported to another place. 

“When I sing, I want people to leave a bit of whatever it is their current reality is,” he said.

When he was younger, he felt it wasn’t “cool” to like Disney. Now, he owns it. 

He also loves Disney because of those memorable on-screen moments, like in Lion King, where Mufasa lets go of Simba, when Mufasa dies, or how Cinderella’s dress is transformed from rags to a beautiful blue ball-gown. 

For Atayero, visuals in videos are an integral part of creating music. One of his favourite Disney films is Aladdin, which inspired one of his music videos aptly called “Escape.” The video depicts a couple holding hands while running through a desert landscape with a starry blue night sky, superimposed with a woman singing and swaying to the beat of the music. It’s a catchy and lyrical pop song with a soul feel to it. 

He is very intentional of all visual elements in his music videos.

“When I create my own stuff, my album artwork that I’ve released so far, so far they are very specific, they are very direct. I really like the choice of colors [and] characters because, again, I’m a very visual person. So I tried as much as I could to translate that into what I create,” he explained.

The way Atayero perceives reality is like an ongoing music video in his mind. 

“So in my regular life, if I’m talking to someone, if I’m meeting someone for the first time or someone I’ve known or just like walking down the street there’s always playing something in my head and I’m always like I perceive it from like a camera angle. And so for me, visual components of music are as integral as the sound, which is why, again, Disney and the top people are integral to me because it’s like I’m a very visual person as much as I am a musical person. So the visuals that those acts were able to create I think that really stuck with me,” he said.

In mid-September, Atayero dropped an EP that features three remixes from his album and one new song. He performed at The Exchange this past summer with his band, People Under the Sun. The EP was supposed to be released during the quarantine period, but because his team were in Nigeria, Canada and the U.S., it took longer than planned. 

As for future projects, Atayero says he’s always creating something new. His band has a project coming out in October. He’s working on more new material that will be released later this year or early next year. 

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