This week I had the pleasure of interviewing UK-based afrobeats artist Fuse ODG. Fuse is the biggest breakthrough afrobeats artist of the last two years; he earned huge attention with his 2012 hit single Azonto, which put the spotlight on the Ghanaian dance craze of the same name.
The London born, Ghana raised artist recently made history by becoming the first Ghanaian artist in the UK to reach the number one spot in the iTunes World chart and to win a Ghana Music Award.
Asking how he felt being a role model to a lot of people, he said:
My music is more than just a music it gives out a message for the African cultures and the outside of Africa.
I’m already working towards setting up a fair example for the youngsters over here, so it makes me know that I’m on a mission, so it really makes me feel good I appreciate that.
He then went on to discuss the birth of the Azonto single:
Azonto started when I decided to go back to Ghana to actually connect with the African music. I started working with one of the biggest producers over there called Kill Beatz.
It was through the sessions I was doing with him that I discovered Azonto; people in Ghana were doing it in the clubs that we went to after our sessions in the studio.
I was curious about it and wanted to find out more; the dance was so good that I even started to learn it myself, it was so addictive that I just wanted to bring it back here in the UK.
And as an artist the way I can deal with it is to make a song about it. And that’s literally how it all started, I filled Kill beatz in and done a viral video for it just to show people how the dance goes. My aim was really just to bring it here in the UK only but it crossed over to Australia, Paris, Amsterdam and even Hong Kong.
We then touched on the crazy moment that David Cameron was seen learning the Azonto dance, and of course Fuse had a little something to say about it:
I didn’t imagine the Prime Minister would be dancing the Azonto one day, definitely not. It’s crazy it just shows that you don’t know what the future holds really… People need to know that Africa is not just about the negative it has some positive stuff as well.
Fuse then discussed the feeling that came with being the first UK artist to win a Ghana Music Award, saying:
It makes me feel that the work I’ve been doing out here is just not for nothing, it’s also good being successful over here but it’s also in a better way that people as a whole are supporting.
He also explained the meaning behind Antenna, the current single that put him in the position he’s in now:
The concept of Antenna is a girl controlling a guy just like an Antenna will control the TV; so it’s got different elements to it – the dance side to it and the energetic vibes.
I really wanted to make another song that will bring so many different African cultures from around the world to Antenna, I really wanted to bridge that gap so that it can cross over and it actually worked.
Fuse ODG collaborated with Wyclef Jean, Wande Coal, Sarkodie and R2Bees on the remix of Antenna. I asked him how he got to collaborate with these artists:
The Wyclef collaboration happened in Ivory Coast when I went for my show and Wyclef was performing there too.
The DJ there put on Antenna and everyone went crazy, Wyclef was mad and he said, “I want to do the remix for this song! I want to do the official remix”.
So we just acted on it the next day.
We set up a studio in my hotel recorded it right there. The day after that we shot the music video for it so it really went fast for that one.
For the afrobeats remix I just hollered at Sarkodie, R2bees and Wande Coal because I will be releasing Antenna in the UK officially… I wanted us to do an afrobeats remix and they all were more than happy to jump on the track.
It was also an honour for me to have them on the song too and they responded perfectly so we just got it done.
Recently, Antenna was ranked number one on the iTunes world chart single which Fuse ODG announced himself on Twitter. He touched on the success of the single, commenting:
I knew that the song was crazy and a lot of people were crazy about it too.
Wait. Pause. Fuse have you not realised you’ve used the word “crazy”… quite a few times is that your favourite word?
Haha! Nah but yeah, as I was saying I knew that the song was crazy and a lot of people were loving it. It just lets me know that the song is really connecting with the world.
Fuse ODG released his official Antenna EP this month which includes all the remixes and other tunes, which managed to reach the iTunes top 40 before its release; he explained his decision to bring out an EP saying:
I decided to do different remixes and I worked with a company called Freebie and they helped me get it done.
We got the garage remix done, the dance remix and a of couple other original mixes and a club mix.
He then went on to speak about future collaborations that he was working on:
Still working on more stuff with Wyclef, I’m also working with a couple of other African artists… also got some new stuff with the Nigerian singer Wande Coal.
Fuse was recently added to the Wireless festival line-up alongside fellow afrobeats artist WizKid. I asked him how ready he was for the festival:
How ready? I’m more than ready for that, because again that’s even forcing the movements to be even more massive.
The more audience you get to showcase tunes to, the better. And again you’re making more movements for Afrobeats to get that kind of platform. So I’m more than ready.
He then shared his thoughts on the afrobeats scene in the UK, noting:
I think it’s getting love – there’s a lot of new people coming through I’m liking the sounds and everything, I feel like there’s still more music to come out. The sound that’s coming through the UK is because we grew up in the UK and we got the UK influence in us, which makes the music a bit better. It’s exciting for the UK acts and that what they are bringing.
Before we ended the interview I asked what advice would he offer to other artists out there trying to break into the same industry, and he left me with:
I say be consistent in your grind, just keep going.
There will be times where you just get frustrated but don’t let the frustrations hold you down just focus on your future because whatever your going through now will pass. Be consistent and focus on your future, you’ll get there.
Fuse ODG’s Antenna EP is currently available to download on iTunes.