WHERE did your passion for performing come from?
Singing and dancing was always in the family home growing up. I'm from Nigeria, so my parents brought us up in an environment where we had a lot of music and it inspired dance. It was just fun at the beginning. It wasn't until I saw the magic of Michael Jackson that I realised this is something I want to do and I love doing it.
How important is the Nigerian culture to you?
It is the foundation, it really shapes a lot of what I do. Being a part of this culture gives me my own unique perspective of music, performance and life in general.
What is the best part of waking up every day and knowing you get to perform for a living?
Sometimes I need to remind myself about that when things get a little dicey. It is such a blessing. It is like what people say, if you do what you love for your work, you never really work a day in your life. That's how I feel, I love what I do, I love the challenges it brings, I love to be able to create from scratch and to really connect with people through the medium of music and dance. Honestly, I think the best thing is all of it.
Was it a struggle to break into the music industry?
I had to work incredibly hard to get to where I am now. People see the glamorous side, but it is a lot of just gruelling work. A lot more 'nos', a lot more doubts and setbacks than breakthroughs, but it makes all the wins that much sweeter. I remember when I was a dancer, I would dance through the night, just practising and perfecting my craft from 17-18 and really going hard to do that. Dancing came very natural to me, the music didn't, the singing didn't, so I had to double down and work twice as hard to get that to a point where I was happy with it. I'm still growing, I'm still vocally getting better. It's just constant growth, you have got to work hard.
How did you get into singing? You said dancing came naturally, why become a singer?
I loved the way great singers made me feel. It was a similar thing to how great dancers made me feel. I wanted to put those two things together and become an all-round entertainer. I wanted to give that feeling to others, but it didn't come naturally. I had to decide whether I wanted to do it, but I just put my head down and worked at it.
Did you ever have a point where you doubted yourself and wondered whether this path is for me?
Not necessarily in terms of the industry, I've worked too hard and I'm too focused to think this path isn't for me. I guess there's levels to everything, I've had doubts like how far can I take this, am I good enough to be worldwide or am I good enough to be global. In terms of me doing it, I feel like it's in my DNA. I feel like if I was doing something else, and I am open to it when the time is right to transition, but I wouldn't feel right, I would feel like something would be missing.
Has all that you have achieved been a giant dream come true?
Yes, to an extent, but I feel like I am living it. I feel like the dream is not so much a destination, but it is everyday life. Dreams are tough, but they are great when you push for them. You need them to keep you going and I have still got things I really want to achieve. I am happy and excited about what I have done so far. People come up to me and say, 'I love your songs', 'my kids love your music', 'keep going, keep doing your thing' and 'you're a shining light for our community for kids growing up, seeing someone like you do well'. It's a beautiful thing and I don't take it as just a cool thing I get to do that gives me attention. I take it as a responsibility to do it right and to keep pushing.
You are a huge role model for our younger generation, they really do look up to you.
Exactly, a lot of people want to do this, a lot of people want to sing and dance for a living and not everybody gets to. I think the difference is that dedication, that tunnel vision and that focus that doesn't let up, and the right guidance as well.
Are you surprised with how much you have achieved throughout your life?
I'm not surprised. From the age of 10 I knew what I wanted to do and when I saw it happening I was like, this is what was in my heart from the beginning. If anything, it encouraged me. I became more excited when I saw things come into fruition, that I thought of and dreamt of early on. What surprises me is hearing from people I have influenced. I think that's special because I am a very forward focused, tunnel vision individual. I set my sights on something and I go. Sometimes you don't notice the effects of what you are doing, but hearing the effects are a great surprise to me.
I hear that you have worked alongside global acts such as Nicki Minaj, Pitbull, Jason Derulo and David Guetta, what was that like?
These guys are living the fullness of as far as you can take it. It was great to chill with these guys and to see how they did what they did and understand why they are who they are. I just took it all in, it was a big inspiration for me to work with these guys.
What was your reaction to finding out your hit single Set It Off peaked at number 2 on the ARIA charts and your self-titled album peaked at number 3?
That was crazy, because it was my first officially released work. I knew we had something special with the guys I created it with, but you never really know how it is going to perform commercially; you've just got to work hard. It was great to find out. I also got to perform at Miss Universe, and I travelled to Mexico, Germany, UK and Asia to perform. Those kinds of things you just cherish and make the most of them.
What was your experience on reality television shows So You Think You Can Dance and Australia's Got Talent like, and would you encourage young performers wanting to break into the business to go on reality television?
I think if you have a strong talent, but don't know where to harness it or how to get seen, reality television is just a different platform to getting noticed. I do stress to people who want to go on these shows, they need to think smart about where they want to end up after it, because we are talking about shows that last three months maximum and then there is the rest of your life. Go for it, be smart, be yourself as much as you can and don't let anyone change you. If you become someone else, and dare I say successful, you could be stuck. You could be stuck as someone you don't really want to be. On the flip-side, if you become successful as the person you truly are then that's magic, that's freedom.
What's your personal progression been like throughout the year's?
I've chilled out over the year's. My early 20's, late teenage self, was very high strung, high stressed and so forward focussed that I didn't really live much in the present. I was always thinking about what's next, and although that helps career wise, you don't live in the moment or take in what's happening. If anything, I've learned to take a second, not get overwhelmed and realise, whether good or bad, a career is the sum of everything and it is important to have both good and bad times.
What does 2018 hold for Timomatic?
My Do What You Want regional tour, In the Heights musical, I will have a lot of new music coming out, I plan to travel overseas to the US, to the UK and hopefully to Nigeria as well to do music in my home country. I have collaborations planned, I'm working on other people's projects as well, as a producer and as a songwriter. Last year was the bounce back year, 2016 was really rough for me, it was a hard year, this year is the level up.
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