Larry Gaga Ndianefo does not like granting interviews and this, he said, is because he’s the shy type. Unknown to many of his fans, Larry holds two different degrees and three chieftaincy titles. With a name that evokes admiration and respect in the music industry, this hitmaking singer-songwriter takes ASSISTANT ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR, GBENGA BADA on his journey into creating music and how it takes him half a year or more to perfect a hit song.
So, where in Nigeria is Larry Gaga from?
I am from Anambra state.
Many people feel you just came into the music industry from nowhere, tell us the story?
Well, you need to correct yourself, I have been there for a long time. I have been in the music industry but maybe behind the scenes.
So, what have you been doing behind the scenes?
Well, there’s a record label, I don’t know if you guys remember, YSG, and had an artist then called Vector. So, I have been there for some time.
Being behind the scene, was that deliberate?
No, it wasn’t but you know this music thing started for me officially because a whole lot of artists used to meet me and request I listen to their album to choose the right songs and it was those qualities that made 2face give me the idea to do my own thing since I know how to think of exact beats that will fit a song as well as the right music act on the song and with that, I tried Gaga Shuffle with 2face and that was it. We released the song after seven months.
Why did it take that long to release a song?
That was because it wasn’t something I do. I am into oil and gas and I play big but I just like music.
So, when did you discover your love for music?
I would say from my childhood days. I have always loved music but I would say officially when I started rolling with 2face, like early 2000s.
So, how actually did you meet 2face because you speak so fondly of him?
Okay, so, I used to live like a few houses away from the Plantashun boiz in those days. I met Blackface first and we all became friends but it happened that I got closer to 2face and we have since remained that close.
So, you mentioned being a player in the oil and gas sector, has that part of you now taken the back seat?
No, it’s still there. I still do my business in the oil and gas sector.
But the music seems to be taking the centre stage?
Well, I would say it’s the passion that I have for music that makes it look like it’s taking the front seat but now, I think I am getting deep in the music.
So, for you, does music pay as much as oil and gas?
No, definitely not.
But the general belief is that entertainment – music and films – pays as we have seen with top music acts?
Well, yes but I don’t climb the stage to perform and collect the kind of money they collect. I only make and create good songs.
So, would you like to climb the stage to get such pay?
No, I am not into that but I might be giving it a shot soon because of several requests.
Egedege is a big song currently…
I have always had big songs (laughs)
Well but this is catching like wildfire, how do you feel about it?
Thank you and I appreciate the compliment but you know this song is just catching on like a wildfire truly I might have to be performing the song on stage because I have been receiving a lot of calls from the East and South South because they just want me to be on the stage and perform the song.
What inspired the song Egedege? tell us the back story
Okay, I actually went for a burial and I was sitting with my friends with kids around and they were shouting Larry Gaga then this lady walks in and I remember this same lady, Theresa Onuorah, very well growing up. My dad used to have this turntable and we listen to her songs so I saw kids shouting her name and I was surprised she was still alive and I just said it randomly to my friends that I would do something with this woman, the next thing, she called me and said she heard I wanted to do something with her and I said it’s true. So, I told her I would go back to one of her favourite songs that I used to listen to while growing up – which by the way, I was always scared of because of her voice and that was it.
Why the choice of Flavour and Phyno on the song?
I guess that’s just the Larry Gaga in me. When I listen to a beat or song, I know exactly who to put on the song and for Egedege, it was just Phyno and Flavour that could do it for me, nobody else.
Can you expatiate on that a little further?
When I listen to a song or a beat, I can tell exactly, who would do justice to the beat or the song, I just know. I think it’s innate, it comes naturally to me.
Are there other living legends that bring such memory to you?
They are all gone. People like Osita Osadebe, Oliver De Coque, so, they are all dead.
From your point of view, how big is Egedege?
I know it’s big, you know, I am used to hits. I have not felt it deep down in me as to how I should but in the East, I think it is very big due to the messages I get from there.
Are there other training you got to make you create music?
It just came to me. I listened to a lot of songs growing up, I like music, I listen to all genre of music, old music, international sounds, Nigerian music, highlife, a whole lot.
So, tell me, how did you come about the personae you have created for yourself in the music industry?
I have been like this from time immemorial. Everything I do or I set myself to do, I do it well. From my secondary schooling to university, I have always excelled at whatever I do, so I have always had that in me.
What happened with what you did with Vector and YSG?
Well, he didn’t do well. I know you guys want to ask me raw questions and I know where you are going to but basically, nobody is above mistake. I had a partner and they didn’t get along but I am neutral and cool with Vector, so we are very good friends till now.
You have these significant silver teeth, is this part of the art?
I have had this since 2005/2006. I used to do boxing and karate and one small boy finished my denture but that was by the way. I used to do boxing but my mum never liked it, she always complained so after the incident, I just quit then I traveled to Dubai to fix my teeth and that’s why I have two silver teeth.
You are have deliberately stayed on a low profile and in the background despite your huge achievements in the music industry, what’s the reason for that?
I am shy. I am a shy person. This interview is just because I felt like, let me just do it.
You said something about taking your time to get the music right like a perfectionist…
Yeah, for all my songs, I take my time to create a song. If you notice, before Egedege, I haven’t released a song for like one year. If you follow me very well, you would notice this and this new song is something I have been working on for over seven months, traveling back and forth because madam Theresa Onuorah isn’t based in Lagos, although she has been coming in and out of Lagos to perform the song with me at occasions.
Would it be right to say you take such a long time to create songs that eventually become hits because you have other sources of income?
Definitely, because I have other businesses that I do. I am also a hustler, if you bring other businesses for me you know I am an Igbo man, so basically, that’s it.
There’s an increase in the popularity of musicians from southeast Nigeria doing highlife, can you speak on that?
I think it’s just the time and we just follow the trend now that people like Flavour, and Phyno paved the way. We are just following the trend and people are enjoying the trend.
What’s the next musical conquest for you?
Just keep your fingers crossed.