Radr talks to Afro-heaven pioneer Teaura. We discuss dream collaborations, Ogunlade college being the recipe to success, her eventful life experiences from three of her songs making it to Charly Boy’s album at the age of 15, Wizkid going to Ogunlade college and also being in the choir of her church, meeting Antonia at the shrine, self-care, defeating the fear factor, targeting an intimate audience and artist- listeners relationship to finally being ready.
If not music , What would you have been doing?
This is my honest truth. I recently dabbled into Pr and started my own Pr company, so I feel like it would still have been something around music. If I wasn’t the lead artiste or trying to put my music and promoting my craft. I would definitely be working with other artists to promote their craft. So it’s more of the love I have for music plus I like being around the music and its environs. Talking to other artists, looking for solutions and direction. A lot of upcoming artists including myself need direction. So if I wasn’t actively chasing music personally, I for sure would be around it whether in a managerial or executive position. I would have my Pr company for artists in general.
How did the stage name Teaura come about?
I like that you pronounced it correctly, I have had people bash and butcher the name in every wrong way possible.
I would recommend that you could get as many people say your name differently and make it as an intro clip to any of your promotional videos.
Did you know my Editor had the same idea? We are already working on it, we got a couple people to say it, followed by a breakdown on the right pronunciation then shot the video. This is to address the malapropism and if anyone asks for the right pronunciation, not to be rude but I could share the video in that regard.
My name is Tobi, and my friends call me Tea. Originally my stage name was to be Tea, however during an outdoor event I received constructive criticism on that, I spoke with a group of people who told me Tea sounds quite unfinished, and I needed a stage name that would strike a chord and Tea wasn’t doing justice to that. Then the combination of Tea and Aura came, so Teaura. I like the vibe and energy it brings; I think it complements me.
Your Music has a common theme of Love, how has life as a romantic been in these shady streets?
I was always forming hard girl but when I started to love myself and give myself a lot of self care and love. I realized that I began to attract a lot of people that understood the love I was giving myself and it just made romantic love easy. I can’t over emphasize the importance of loving yourself before getting a partner or being involved in a romantic situation. This is one of the first times I have ever been free, when you are having life experiences you attract one of the worst experiences. For instance, if you are looking for unconditional love, you literally attract the people who are not aware of the dynamics of love to teach you a lesson. Therefore in your pursuit of love you are going to learn the hard way but with a lot of understanding , self care and self love. You can navigate your way to finding actual love. I am definitely a romantic lover girl and I take pride in spreading love and teaching people about finding love themselves.
Flowing from the previous question ,what does self care mean to you?
Self care is when you are putting yourself first and it is not even in a selfish way. It is just when you are considerate and kind to yourself. It could also include physical things like taking yourself out. I go out alone a lot of time and people think that I am crazy. I take myself to dinner because if I don’t do it who will ,if I don’t go and spend this money on myself who will. I take myself out on spa dates, dinner dates , I go hiking whenever I travel , I meditate and journal. I do things that makes me happy and anything that resonates with me and gives my mind a bit of peace is self care to me.
Journaling is honestly the best thing that happened to me this year.
Yes, it puts your thought process in one place as a writer. Even I on the other hand as an artiste , it brings a lot of lyrics I would never have known I had. All of this happens simply because I take 20 minutes or less of my day to write my thoughts down. It improves the quality of your life daily and it also serves as a medium to manifest things. Whenever you are stressed and you write it down, if you come back to open the book in six months, chances are you have passed the hurdle of the stress so upon opening it , you are reminded how that period felt almost undefeatable and currently after overcoming it. You would be more grateful and also it encourages me. Journaling helps everybody, I feel like everyone should take time out of their day to journal.
Can you share any heartbreak experience?
I will actually share. My ex recently followed me on Instagram, after blocking me everywhere. It was a crazy heartbreak experience and one lesson learnt which I am happy to tell on to people for free is “A guy introducing you to his mother or family doesn’t guarantee anything,” He swept me of my feet, granted me access to his house by giving me a key, gave me a walking closet. It was the perfect romantic love and finance fairytale. I was thinking I was the only one and all of a sudden, he abruptly stopped in his tracks and said he was no longer interested.
It was weird, he had no explanation or reasons whatsoever. He recently followed me back so shout out to him, definitely I must be doing something right.
What range are we to expect from your music?
As I stated earlier, I believe in building my craft, I am not taking music as a joke or towing the common line of “I just want to blow”. Truthfully blowing is a reward at the same time, I am trying to navigate and understand my feelings and emotions. Music is more than how it sounds. It encompasses much more to make it fulfilling such as the feeling, creative direction, it is like savoring creative juice. I am trying to do so much right now but I am taking baby steps because I know that everything gets better with time. I am also trying to get a band together, my personal all female brand. I support women and I feel there should be more female participation in music. I believe Tems has paved a way for females , denouncing the notion of required assistance from godfathers, in releasing music. Also ,I coined my genre Afro-heaven , it is to serve as a fusion between everything but with a lot of melodies and a distinct vibe to it. I try not to keep myself in the box and Afro-heaven presents the perfect avenue to do just that . It is limitless and free, as it is a hybrid combination of a lot of things and I am free to create out of my mind and not have to worry about how to make sure it fits into a class or genre classification. Beyonce is one of my music mentors and I see the way she works. She has clean work ethics and infuses a lot of her energy , thought and creating process into her work , this way it feels more intimate even for listeners.
How did you get into singing?
The part I excluded is my mom is a Pastor and just like many other pastor’s children we tend to be stubborn ,just a bit. She always wanted me to join a department in church, something along the lines of being “a vessel for the lord.” I joined the choir at home before joining the choir in University for a short period of time because my lifestyle wasn’t fully complying with the operations of the church system. My super talented sister used to be a singer, her voice is so beautiful ,there are days I listen to voice notes of her singing and I feel blessed. I remember hearing her sing and wishing I could sing. Instead of just wishing I am currently working towards it. If only she didn’t settle down and choose family, she might have been the singing star of the family.
What was Growing up and your Educational background like?
I am a last child of 9 children. Contrarily I didn’t enjoy the luxuries many would have thought being a last child would earn me. During the period I was growing up, my father ran into some financial woes that would cost a lot. I saw myself living a life in my wildest thought I would never have thought to encounter. I had to change schools and proudly would say those early days shaped my life and street intelligence. I had to adapt ,find myself and navigate life independently.
I started attending the well known Ogunlade college at Ojuelegba before moving on to studying Electrical Engineering at Bells University of Technology, Ota. Initially my mom would send the driver to drop us off at school and pick up, I was getting bullied for that, so I told her not to bother. My environment wasn’t complementing the things I was used to, like having a private driver. I had to drop that and start walking to school, so I would be blend in and not be spoken to the next day. University was also challenging. I remember as a Teenager at 15, I was in the church choir, I used to be a choir mistress. I met the keyboardist would have a studio in Orile, Iganmu and I would trek to the studio, so I could meet up. I was really young, but I had dreams, at that time till now, I wasn’t fixated on becoming a super star, it was more about thoroughly enjoying myself in the studio. By the time I got into university to study Electrical Engineering, balancing ,music and school posed quite a difficulty , my parents got worried ,it was their dream to see me as an engineer. They were not buying the idea of me spending a lot of time in the studio, soon they started comparing me to different people and they began speaking more about the notion they had of musicians .The lifestyle ,smoking ,drinking , bad gang affiliations. In my first year I failed mathematics and my mum was like this is a done deal, “ I do not want to hear about music ,go to school and finish.” I did just that I went to school bagged the degree and finished with a Second Class Upper in Electrical Engineering. Quite unbelievable, I dropped my certificate with my mom when I was done and that was when I felt free. Quite frankly , I would say I never loved or committed to Electrical Engineering , I just studied it to make my family happy and prove to them that I could read something that hard and pass it.
Your Stay at Ogunlade College must have been a Wholesome Experience.
Ogunlade College, I need to do an excursion to that place. I am proud to say that’s where I got my intellectual life coping skills commonly referred to as Street sense. There was a time a video came up of flooding, it was that area Akobi Crescent at Ojuelegba. It is currently the rainy season so I’m sure we are trending, so you don’t have to do much asking about the area. Also ,Wizkid went to Ogunlade College after coming from his previous school.
Now that I am thinking about it, I am grateful ,it taught me to be a logical thinker. I believe this life coping and analytical skill is also reflected in my decision making.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
It’s so crazy, I never really sat down to have dreams of my own . I feel after the first time I sat down to dream and it was shut down, I really stopped dreaming. Now It seems like I have a clear picture of what I want to do , the things I want to achieve and become and the kind of audience I would prefer to have. I am just dreaming as much as I can right now, dreaming is free and no one can take away your dreams. In the future I see myself doing what I love, doing live performances , releasing good music, and bonding with my audience. Building myself and craft daily. I don’t think I put a lot of pressure on myself however I do vocal training, and dance classes. I put myself in positions that I will keep developing my art to the point I feel confident and
comfortable enough to do more. I see myself very ready in the future, ready might come with challenges or blessings that I am prepared for.
What are Your Plans for the Summer?
I have a few asides from travelling to relax and enjoy myself, I like travelling a lot and it’s the first on my summer plans. I plan to release more music. It has being a while since “You” and now “Groove.” I want to fill in the gap and be productive as well as feed people __ my family as I would like to refer to the people who listen to my music with whatever content or music I have. It doesn’t have to be perfect or a complete budget as long as I am putting work out there, I would keep on releasing music until I have a handful . I would also be performing at live shows, I have like 3-7 life performances slated and sealed for the summer period. I am excited about it and looking forward to seeing how it goes. Fingers crossed.
Which Festivals, shows or Concerts would you wish to headline?
I would say Coachella, I don’t think it’s far from the belief that everyone has the ability to dream and manifest their dreams. I have always wanted to do Coachella; this was also inspired by Beyonce.
Locally in Nigeria, I would like to perform at Palm Wine Fest, I go there every year and I enjoy the vibe plus I love what Show Dem camp is doing. I love the idea and the journey of how they started out locally from Bogobiri to what it is now (a global success). I like intentional concerts I don’t want to be where everyone is at or doing what everyone is doing. I want to create a niche for myself, the number isn’t the driving force, it’s more about living intentionally and purposefully, it’s making sure I stand the test of time and last as long as I can. Johnny Drille is also another intentional artiste in Nigeria, the best part is, many people didn’t see him coming and it is clear that it’s not about the music execs, it’s about the fans. Just like this highlighted individual, the goal is achieving a targeted fan-base, the art and the people who wants to listen to your art.
I have been snooping through your Instagram and I have a question to ask. You posted that you always dreamt of being a Femi Kuti dancer and you were sure you were Fela’s dancer in your past life. Can you kindly expound on that?
I feel this strongly, especially their way of life. I had the opportunity to go behind stage to see up-close the lifestyle, culture and the dancers. I know at least two Femi Kuti dancers. I blend in well with them and met some of them and the conversation just flows. I have had dreams of being a Fela dancer like 5 times, 5 vivid dreams of the same story. I got to meet Antonia one of the dancers at the shrine. It felt very natural more like a spiritual experience she walked up to me and touched my face and said you are so pretty. I was astonished and was like “real recognizes real.” It can’t be just coincidental, I might just be destined for this.
I had Goosebumps when you said she walked up to you after having a dream about it.
You see, it’s not a story, it’s real life. She was so polite and then while she was dancing on the stage, she was blowing me kisses and I was a bit unsure and looking around and she was like it’s you. The thing is we had never met before, so it felt like a divine moment.
This could be a sign to include the shrine to your dream performance locations.
I will actually. I would love dancing with the dancers, in my costume. The freedom of expression over there is unmatched. People go there stand in front and dance their hearts away it’s almost like another worldly experience. I had an opportunity to go backstage I was mesmerized. It really felt like someone else is living my life. Like am I not supposed to be here. The dressing room is pure art.
Will you say Afro-Heaven has a religious inspiration?
Well that’s one way to look at it. I feel heaven is a state of mind and that has always been my pursuit for happiness . Knowing I can get my mind to do whatever and my mind would adjust and I can be anyone I want to be personality wise and my personality would adjust. I was thinking of a name and it was quite easy to come up with Afro-heaven. The state of mind you are, it could be anger ,sadness love ,sex and it just flows into the creation.
Are you an Independent artiste, Do you have a management or record label structure?
I am a one woman army, I do everything I handle management, and the creative process for now. However I am open to and getting a lot of meetings tailored to getting private investors. I wouldn’t say I believe in the idea of labels, they give you an advance and you will still have to do the work anyways. I am open to anything that comes in the future . For now I do everything myself.
I have had a manger previously. I fired him he wasn’t invested in it. I believe in a job well done just 70 percent is okay. If you are not ,I am not going to be desperate plus it’s a long term thing and I don’t want to be burnt out or have team members that would stress you out.
Even if you can’t see the vision they should be at least working towards understanding it. It’s teamwork.
I’ll say Groove gives the notion of a perfect summer jam. Was getting a summer bop the plan?
I don’t have plans for my music or the things I do , I just go with the feeling. I heard the beat shout to Jazz not juju. He played the beat and I had been procrastinating writing or doing anything on it. One day at his house he called me out on it and right there I found motivation I started by asking myself truthfully how I had been feeling and I realized my reason for not being productive is because I had been over-thinking it. I didn’t have anybody in the industry. I was coming from a naïve point of view. That’s why it has like a sad tune to it was, it was basically me telling myself to get up and groove. It was me enjoying myself.
The deeper voice isn’t an alter ego but a reflection ,if you could peep into my mind, you would understand where the voice is coming from. I channeled that angle and the final result was groove. It was a great feeling, I didn’t plan it and it’s the first dance song I have done . I had traditionally leaned to a slower vibe of music but groove is full dance vibes . It was easy to call up my dance coach and tell her I have a viby bop.
Finally Teaura is there any Tea on an EP, Project Collaborations you are willing to share?
Yes I got that. I am currently working , not sure of an Ep yet because that is a lot of planning and work . I feel like I would release singles first and put out a body of work when the time is right. It won’t be too long, hopefully sometime next year in April.
Any Last Words?
I am READY gbam !!!