Q & A ALERT: 13-year-old Soaleze is a Music Prodigy – Fischer

Believing in Young African Talent: Stephen Michael Fisher

Believing in Young African Talent: Stephen Michael Fisher

Atlanta, Georgia-based Stephen Michael Fisher,  owner of 11th Street Studios, has amassed over 100 gold, platinum certifications, including over 100 Billboard Top 10 projects and been a part of over 20 Grammy nominated projects, including 5 Grammy winners. Fischer, who has worked with Nas, India Arie, Scarface, T.I., Future, Rocko, Keri Hilson, Flo Rida, Ashanti, Keyshia Cole, Rodney Jerkins, Drumma Boy, Jazze Pha, and many more, speaks with TADE MAKINDE on his business relationship with 13-year-old Soaleze, a Nigerian, who is set to release her debut album next week. Excerpts

What do you see in Soaleze that made you agree to produce her maiden album?
She sings in three different languages English, French, and Igbo, on this project. Although the current trend in Nigerian music is a very American-influenced hip hop, r&b and pop sound, I like that Soaleze’s project is more influenced by the rich musical tradition of African music. I believe she can fill the gap that’s missing in the current musical world if she follows in the steps of artistes like Angelique Kidjo and Miriam Makeba by playing African world beat. This places her in a better position to achieve high recognition like the Grammy. It’s a different path than most take, but a brave one, hoping that will be appreciated and rewarded. Most people produce sounds that are only temporarily exciting to their immediate environment, but doesn’t get anywhere eventually. Soaleze’s act is clearly being moulded for international exploits. And remember she is only 13 years old, a prodigy.

Apart from Akon, Soaleze is probably the only African act you are working with. Are you confident in her ability to be like the other artistes you worked with, e.g TuPac, Bruno Mars, Ludacris, TLC, Usher, Lil Wayne, Nicky Minaj?
Yes, I have worked quite a bit with Akon. I also recorded a feature from Atlanta artist, Verse Simmonds, but, as I understand, an artiste called Banky W is the first African artiste I’ve worked directly with. Though it’s much more responsibility than I usually take, I am up for the challenge. As for Soaleze, I remember always that she is just 13. It’s just an early international start for her. But if she chooses this as her path in life, I’m sure, as long as she continues to work hard and study her craft, the sky is the limit. She’s got quite a head start.

Soaleze is the daughter of Sir Dili Biosah, who has done some high-profile performances in Nigeria. Has the quality of her father’s management helped in this international collaboration?
Most certainly. His management experience and connections have allowed him to position her for success. His part in her career cannot be overlooked. He had a vision, a clear direction for the project when he approached me, and in which everything needed to go, so, my job is to help bring this vision into reality. Of course, I had to blend that with my own vision too for the project as well, which, I believe, is also why I was selected for this job.

You are working on about 10 tracks of her very first album. Does her talent make it easy for her to cope with this pressure?
Dili could answer that better than myself, but I guess that it’s her experience of growing up around music, and her exposure from an early age to her career that has prepared her most for this. She seems to be taking it all in good stride. Amazingly, she deploys like a professional. Really old and articulate for her age.

You’ve done so many Grammy award-winning albums. What do you think is the potential for Soaleze’s music globally since you are putting so much time into it?
Truly, I am putting a lot of time into this, but still, it’s all relative. I mean, I am taking this project from demos to done (completed) in short of one month; working practically every day. That may seem like a lot of time, but when you really break it down, it’s a pretty hectic pace. The two major obstacles to getting superb results, aside from the talent, skills, and knowledge, usually becomes time and money. I am happy with the results we have got considering the situation. Working long days and nights is cool, but next time I want more time because in United States, artistes spend over a year doing their songs to perfection. That is my hope for this project-that it will gain enough attention and success so that we have even more freedom on the second album to take our time to plan and get the best out of both myself and Soaleze, and others that we bring in on the project as well.

Are you working presently with any other artistes as young as Soaleze?
Not at all. In fact, she is one of the youngest artistes I’ve ever worked with. Most artistes I work with are in their 20s and 30s. I’ve worked with a number of artistes back when they were teenagers such as Bow Wow, Cherish, Lloyd, Mario, Ciara, Lil’ Wayne, Sammie, but most of them were 17 or 18 at the time. She should be hitting her stride by that age. It’s good for her to get this experience this early in her career, it will  help her later as she continues to develop.

The title of this album is “The 5th Horseman” arising from the title of her first singles which you are remaking, is this correct?
Yes. Soaleze first released two singles back in 2010 when she was about 10 years old. I am re-producing both “The 5th Horseman” and “Ballerina” for inclusion on the album. Her voice has changed so much in three years that she had to re-sing the songs, and also, the original instrumentals were no longer available. Anyway, music also changes over time, so I am making a few decisions to give the songs a more up-to-date feel, instead of trying to re-create them exactly, and to be more consistent with the newer productions on the album. I’m even considering doing a couple of deep house/afro-house remixes for club DJ’s!

I understand that international record distribution outfits, with whom you had sold platinum albums consistently, have shown interest in this project. Is that a happy thing for you?
I would love to see this project do well, and hopefully lead to more work of this nature in the future. My main experience is in pop, R&B, and Hip-hop music, and I do enjoy those styles. However, I would love to see more opportunity to work with a variety of musical styles, including more African music. I’m beginning to love it as well as jazz, classical, etc.  There is no end to what you can learn about music, and I find it all a source of inspiration, which is absolutely necessary when you work in music. I enjoy working on new things, different things. It’s challenging, interesting, and refreshing.

Are you telling the world to watch out for Soaleze?
Of course. She was on several locations shooting videos of this music with Carl Millinder of StarrMaxx who has experience working with Quincy Jones and the Jacksons. So there is some quality craft going into what she is doing. That’s how stars are made in America, in Europe and elsewhere. We don’t spend our time except there is true potential. Every once in a while, a young talent bursts unto the scene from anywhere in the world. Let us watch and hope Nigeria and Africa see what we see.



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