In this interview, up coming music sensation Roccaman, takes Travellers Magazine down memory lane of his musical career and the journey so far.
Can we meet you?
My name is Tonye Tony Onugbo, known as Roccaman, I am from Bayelsa State, I grew up in the barracks; Navy Town to be precise. My dad was a naval officer; he retired in early 2000, he left Lagos and I was left here by myself. Before my folks left Lagos, I was a business administration student at the Lagos State University. I dropped out because of financial challenges and I was doing a part-time job and I was using it for my up keep and I was into music at that time, but it got to a point where it was difficult because my income was not enough for my musical career and upkeep, so I had to quit music but not immediately. I said to myself that the job was not enough for me, I needed something better, so I left Lagos and went to my state to stay with my brother in Yenagoa, because I learnt there opportunities to get sponsor for my music. I went to some clubs and other places to perform but money was not coming, I had to settle for a barbing job with a friend who has a small saloon and
I later came back to Lagos to my friend who also has a saloon and we worked together but a business that is not yours can never be yours, so, it was still challenging for me and I thought about starting up other business. I had it in mind to go into food business because I love food; a friend who makes shawarma in FESTAC, we had it in mind to set up a shawarma spot in barracks where I grew up but the space was not given to me then, when the barbing job was not bringing money, I went back to the barracks to seek for the space again and I was given. Then we started the shawarma business in Navy Town, that was how I started making my money with my friend as partners, after some years I paid him off. I later left Navy Town for Egbeda; I opened another spot at Egbeda. I stayed there because there is freedom but in Navy Town, we had to live by the rules and regulations of the military. After some years I got married and have two kids but when my first child was about the age of three and the music started coming back, it hit me that I have to do it, that was how I came back to music over two years ago but my wife never approved of my music she said people into music live a wayward life. I shot a video sometime ago for one of my songs; I am going to shoot another one, the song titled: Buju; it is a dance hall and I encourage everyone to check my name; Roccaman, you can check my songs on Audio Mark, ITunes or search for it on Google.
What is your challenge in music?
My challenge so far in music is the financial part of it. I run my own business but sincerely, I have a lot of responsibilities and money is not enough for me to cope with my music because the kind of promotion I want to give my music, I have not been able to do it because of the funds. I hope it to get a better financial backup soon that is why I am putting the effort.
Have you done any collaboration?
I have not done any collaboration so far but there are plans and I hope to work with Timaya. Timaya is from my place; though we have not met but I follow him on social media; I love his kind of music, tone, the way he started and what he has been able to achieve. I hope to become better sometime in future too.
What is music to you?
Music is life; there is no life without music. We have all kinds of music; we have reggae, dance hall, R&B, high life, afro juju, hip hop and all music comes with a message. Most times, you do not need to learn anything from the song you are listening to, but most times you need the vibes, there are songs that make you happy, some songs would make you feel better when you are moody. So, music is life for me, it helps to wipe away challenges you are facing and lift your spirit.
Which area do you think government could support upcoming artistes?
I do not think government has a lot of role to play for up coming artistes but producers have a lot to do. These days that the cost of living is high, up coming artistes that are not working do not have financial means to promote their music. I will encourage a lot of studios and producers to support up coming artistes by recording for them with a token, not making them pay through their nose to record songs, that is only way they can support and encourage young talent and others that can be able to support like the philanthropists.
What is the relevance of your music to the society?
Like I told you, music is a message and at times it does not come with a message and at times it does come with a message, it comes with the vibe that makes you happy.
What kind of music do you do?
I do all kinds of music. You can be able to predict my kind of music, my kind of music also depends on my mood. My music comes to me and whatever comes to me, I write it down, I have done afro beat, highlife, hip hop. I am gifted to do all, but my songs are unique.
How do you get inspiration?
I was born to do music, although I ran away from it for a while. My dad was in music department in the Navy but I never learnt from him. My dad loves music and he played different types of music at home; UB40, Jamaican reggae. It helped me because I started music immediately after secondary school; that was about 19 years ago and when I started music, I wanted to set up a group with two of my friends, but their interest in music was not as much as mine, I was trying to write the song, make them sing it; it was difficult. Along the line, my friends left Lagos for Port Harcourt, I was the only one, it was easy for me to write and perform it.
Who is your mentor in the industry?
I will not say I have a mentor, but I have people I respect who have been able to make waves in the industry, for example Wizkid; he started as a young chap but now, he is big. I respect Burna boy; he knows what he is doing and gifted. I respect Davido; he is gifted. People think Davido is a spoilt child, he has so much money but no if he has so many money he won’t be stressing himself doing music, music is hard work, it takes a lot of hard work to put music together. I also mentioned Timaya, Psquare; Peter Rude boy, 2baba is the boss; he is part of those I respect.
Looking at the industry, can you say it is growing?
The industry is growing compared to the past, and it is interesting the method of promotion now is a bit higher; music pays a lot than before. Before,r you see a lot artist you hear their songs everywhere but they have not been able to make a dime for themselves, but now if you are good and people like your music, you will make your money. It is a business and you need to make money so we can keep doing good music.
Is there any show you were part of or had been invited to?
Just in my neighbourhood; after this time out I am going to have a bigger event.
Do you have any international experience?
I am working towards it.
What is your advice to up coming artistes?
My word for them is that they should not relent in creating good music even when finance is a challenge, keep doing what you know how to do and keep having those data down and when the time comes, make sure you are prepared. There is a saying that success happens when preparation meets opportunity but when the opportunity comes and you are not prepared, you have nothing to give, but when you are prepared and opportunity comes, you would succeed.
What should your fans be expecting from you?
I can not say much about my new video right now, but the video is going to rock the airwaves soon and it is going be one of the best videos. I hope my director would put his best shots into the video.