Agon John aka ‘Aj Natives’ is a song writer,music director, composer,performing artist and entertainer. He has worked with music greats such as Tuface Idibia. In this interview with TMG, he reveals that one of the qualities of a good entertainer is the ability to adapt and improvise. He encourages youths to believe in themselves to achieve their dreams.
TMG> When did you start playing music?
Ans 1: I can not specifically say when I started music because I have loved music for as long as I can remember. I remember when I was a little boy, I would perform at every opportunity for my friends and family. I was surrounded with a lot of people who loved music. I come from a home where music played a major part in our daily lives and I would listen to music whenever my parents or uncles put on the stereo,so I would say the reason why I do music is for the love of it. I have always loved music.
TMG> Which instruments did you start with?
Ans 2: I started with the drums, as a matter of fact,that is my favorite instrument. I love drum beats; it gets me going all the time.
TMG> What was the first tune you learned?
It is difficult to remember the first tune I learnt because I grew up with a lot of musical materials around me. There is actually long range of tunes,so I can’t remember which comes first.
TMG> Did you attend music school?
No, I didn’t have the privilege of attending a music school.
TMG> Do you have a music band or group that always plays with you? If yes, how do you manage?
I don’t have a musical band of my own. I rehearse with various bands for hire if I have to play live. I used to be in a group known as ‘Da Natives’ thus the name AJ Natives but I am solo now and working on my solo debut album.
TMG> Which famous musicians do you admire and Why?
I admire and respect a lot of music artistes both internationally and back home,for example, Tuface Idibia who is like a big brother to me. I love his musical philosophy and simplicity. I admire Chris Brown; I met him once and respect his work ethics as an entertainer and performing artist.
TMG> What are your fondest musical memories?
My fondest memories would be when I was a kid and I would sit by the speakers or in front of the television watching music videos and listening to songs and wishing that one day, I would be as big as those musical artistes I used to listen to. I would always marvel at their ability to entertain and it was such a big deal for me so I always dreamt that one day the world was going to hear my music.I believe those wtere my fondest memories.
TMG> Are you influenced by old records & tapes? Which ones?
I am influenced by old records and tapes because they are in one way or another the basic foundation of every aspiring musical artiste. They form a core of your first ever motivational background to building up an artiste’s musical career.I still listen to old Boys2 men albums, the great afro beat founder, Fela and many others. They remind me of what inspires me, where I am now and to an extent, it gives me a better perspective of where I am going musically.
TMG> Have you been in competitions? Any prizes Or Awards?
Yes, I have been in a lot of musical competitions especially while I was an upcoming act; they are a really good platform to build you up and sharpen your skills, so healthy competition is good if you ask me. I’ve won awards.
TMG> Do you perform in public? Describe those occasions.
11…Sure most concerts I have had the honor and privilege of performing are open concerts thus making them public inclined. I have performed at the ‘Thisday Independence Show’ here in Nigeria and London; ‘The Tuface and Friends MTN tour’; the Kennis Music Independence and Easter concerts just to mention a few.
TMG> Do you play for dances? Step-dancers?
Yes, I do play for dancers too..(laughs)
TMG> How do you handle mistakes during a performance?
Well, mistakes during performances just like any aspect of life are bound to happen so when they do, you adapt, just improvise and get on with it. I believe that one of the good qualities of a good entertainer is the ability to adapt and improvise on stage or during a performance. So mistakes or no mistakes, the show must go on.
TMG> Do you get nervous before a performance or a competition?
No, I don’t get nervous before performances,I mean it is totally normal to be nervous for some artistes but for me, performances come naturally, in fact, a good crowd is a catalyst for an amazing performance for me,I love a good crowd so I just get up there and just do it.
TMG> When do you practice?
I practice every chance I get, it’s really important for an artiste to work on improving his act, skill and talent, so it is a constant thing for me. It doesn’t have to be a new tune or hard tune because there is always room for improvement.
TMG> Do you attend sessions and what makes a good session?
Yes, I attend sessions; that’s where and when the music is created. Sessions are a very vital part of my life.
What makes a good session is good and proper preparation. You have to know what it is you want to do and achieve before you even get into a session. It is good to keep an open mind because things may change when you get started but it is paramount that you have everything laid out before you get in there.
TMG> Tell us about your experience with other musicians and does it have impact on you?
I have an amazing experience with other musicians, I am a musical artiste, so I get to be around a lot of my contemporaries and colleagues. Acts from different social and ethnic backgrounds and musical orientation, so it is always a thrilling experience to meet and share experiences and ideas. I love to learn because learning gives you a chance to improve and be better so the experience is always good and impacting.
TMG> How do you balance your music with other obligations?
I try to draw a line and lay out priorities and by the grace of GOD I try to always put into perspective what is more important so as not to get mixed up with trivial things. So striking a balance is always important. For instance, family is really important, I love music but I make sure there is always time for my people and loved ones which is a big obligation.
TMG> What are your challenges and how do you intend to handle them?
Challenges are a constant thing in life. As we progress from one stage to another, they change so it’s really important to have a philosophy towards overcoming them as they come, your will to overcome has to be stronger than whatever challenge there is because each challenge might not be solved with the same solution but the will to over come each challenge might very much remain the same.
TMG> What advice would you give to beginners in the industry?
My advice to beginners would be to believe in themselves; self- confidence is key. If others can do it, so can you. You just need to look deep inside yourself, step up and own it.
TMG> Tell us something you would like to learn or improve upon?
I would really like to learn how to play other instruments such as the violin, Guitar and the piano.
TMG> Is there anything of interest you do apart from music?
I have a lot of self interests apart from music but I am not sure I want to discuss that right now- they are things I see as personal but with time, I will reveal them to the world.
TMG> What way can you encourage other youths to be self-dependent?
My words of encouragement to youths is to dare to dream. They need to know that they can be anything they set their minds to be if they can just believe in themselves. A lot of people will tell you that you can’t but the truth is there is nothing that is impossible- if you can conceive it, you can achieve it. Trust GOD, hard work pays.
TMG> Do you socialise and when?
I’m a music artist and entertainer so socialising is key. I socialise everytime I get the time off tours,studio sessions or work generally.