Exclusive interview with music star, founder of Nyra Nation record label, fashion and beauty influencer; Emma Nyra. She sits down with Rachel Ogbu in Wembley London to chat about being a music entrepreneur and making women matter in Nigerian music. “Davido till now has no idea! If he reads this… he doesn’t even know all this went down,” she recalls. Read more…
Question: You are like a Phoenix rising- now you are building your record label and signing new artists. How important- in this social media crazy world, is privacy to you?
Emma: I had to learn the hard way. I learned that even your personal opinion can’t be shared all the time because; number one, you have people who look up to you, two, you have people that look out for you. People who look out for you wanna change an opinion- they want to change the public perception about you so I kind of removed myself from over sharing things if it’s not about my career. I don’t mind people judging my career, my career is an open platform but my personal life- my private life, that is mine. I’m not someone who feels from the future onwards I will share anything about my private life. Even if you don’t say you’re in a relationship, they assume you are so imagine when you are actually in a relationship, they would just take it and spin it all the way round.
Questions: Why is it ill adviced in your opinion to share ones personal life on social media?
Emma: If you decide to put your personal life in the public eye, you have to be ready for that backlash because there is the good and bad aspect to it. I just try to keep most of my private stuff to myself. My career is free and feel free to say what you want to say, I’m still going to try and make my money as long as you’re not trying to slander my character.
Question: For someone who has had a lot of people misunderstand them, you remain graceful. You’ve been able to shut down entities that felt they gave you life by standing your ground and even going on to help other female artists build their careers via your “Nyra Nation” record label.
Emma: Yes I want a good number of female voices signed to my label because it’s hard, you don’t see many female artists working in Nigeria.
Question: Do you think it’s time to shut down the concept of “first Lady” of a record label, like it’s not a good thing to have only one woman signed on to any record company, is it?
Emma: Yes! They give us the stigma and often say things like; “oh, we are difficult to work with” meanwhile the guys have 20 people on their entourage, 29 tickets, 29 people band but women we literally just have hair and makeup and our dancers and we are done. There isn’t really a good representation of the female artist per se.
Question: How is it like being the boss of your own record label?
Emma: It is good because I get to see 100% of my profit and what ever I want to do, it’s mine to do. But it is a lot of work, I am my own everything -I have to do everything even if I am hiring someone to do something, I still have to be the one to say yes, no, okay. It is not easy but it is my passion. Everyday I wake up, I’m getting to do something that I love to do. So it is not just work, it is also fun. It is also prosperous in my mind that I can build something from nothing.
Question: What are the tools you use to run your business that makes it easier?
Emma: Social media is engaging -it lets you be self-sufficient. You can work from the comfort of your computer, your phone, so that helps you to run a business.
Questions: You’ve been stacking up quite a good number of ambassadorial positions for top brands, is there any new gig that particularly excites you?
Emma: (Laughs) Social media has really help people to reach out. In the past you could miss out if you missed an email but now, money is like a DM away. Social media is huge whether you’re a make-up artist, a music artist or a model, you can now turn your hubby into your cashpoint.
Question: How do you keep it 100% that is, staying true to making good music. Especially when it gets really busy running your record label, signing your deals with top brands, running social media, signing new artists, merchandising and more?
Emma: I wouldn’t necessarily say that I have to remind myself because music is what makes people know who I am. So I always have to keep my music on point so more business can come my way-my major audience is my music audience and only through them can I build my brand and bring in more brands under me.
Question: Your sound is very refined and cuts across internationally- it’s one of those sounds you can put on almost any playlist because of how universal it transmits on air. Would you say that comes to you naturally or do you have to work on having a sound that transcends boundaries?
Emma: The way I am, I’m already a blend. I grew up in America with strictly Nigerian parents, I also grew up listening to Nigerian music, so my music is a blend of Western music and Nigerian music and then there is this new Afro beats sound as well. I’m into high-life as well and my R&B is good. My pop is good, my reggae is good, so I represent a lot of styles of music.
Question: You enjoy a good collabo, can you name some of the top artists on your album?
Emma: Yes! I’ve been working with Victoria Kimani, Banky W, Cynthia Morgan, Patoranking and they are all on iTunes.
Question: You’ve worked with a lot of male artists- which one was the best to work with, good chemistry and professionalism in recent times?
Emma: So I’m spoiled, when I first started- all off my songs was done with Selebobo and Tekno behind the scenes so since then, any song I’m doing, I’m also working with them. My favourite collab was with Davido. People do not know this about Davido, he is someone who humbles himself as an artist. He will work with you if he likes your music, he isn’t about; “oh give me this money and I would do it, no, he is someone who actually goes out of his way to work with an artist and when I asked him to be on my song; “Elele”, he was like cool, he came to the studio, he recorded the song. The first recording got deleted (he doesn’t even know about this), Selebobo was a genius and saved it somehow then when I tried to do the video, the first video I shot it in London and the video got erased somehow.
Question: Oh my goodness, the enemies were at work…
Emma: (Laughs) I called Davido in Nigeria and said please can you come and shoot again and he said no problem he came and shot the video-again! He was there all day, he didn’t complain, he didn’t say anything negative-he’s actually someone who has helped construct a lot of people’s careers. So I enjoy working with Davido.
Question: That is another level of business risk in this profession many people do not know about or get to see.
Emma: it was a nightmare because to catch him off tour or catch him in Nigeria was hard enough, Sele had to go back into the system and record over the original recording and double record it. Davido till now has no idea! If he reads this, he doesn’t even know that all this went down.
Question: And this is, to be one of your biggest hits, that’s a good story.
Emma: Yes this is one of my biggest to date. Especially in East Africa, that song sailed over there.
Question: That is another thing, how do you manage how your music is accepted in the rest of Africa?
Emma: Thanks to Instagram, you can see all your demographic and I see that I have a big following in West African and East Africa. I think it’s because of the kind of music I make- for instance, Elele was kind of a Francophone song, I believe it went along well there with their style so big ups to people who have promoted my song over there.
Question: What is your relationship with your ex label, Triple MG family?
Emma: I’m still friends with my Triple MG family so it is not like we don’t talk.