Not alot of people can be way deep into entertainment and still keep their faith and its precepts intact. One of Nigeria’s leading cinematographers and Gospel artiste – the 2nd half of the duo that makes up T.I.V – Akin Alabi knows a thing or two about keeping separate parts of his life intact. Not only is the video director keeping his faith and social life coordinated, he has also cultivated and preserved an array of talents such that each one can stand independently of the other and still stand Akin Alabi out as a force.
Akin said he started off as an artiste but the constraint in resources for the production of music made him acquire the skills of sound production and cinematography while he was in the higher institution. Well the skills acquisition has paid off as Akin Alabi ranked amongst Nigeria’s foremost music video directors working with artistes such as 9ice, GT Da Guitarman, Psalm Ebube and more.
SelahAfrik sat with this multi-faceted talent to begin its 2014 interview series. learn about what makes AkinAlabi so thick, his latest addition to his cinematography equipments, his family and how he keeps everything together.
SelahAfrik: Can you tell us about your background, education and childhood?
Akin: I’m the only son amongst 4children. I’m an indigene of Ekiti state. I had my primary school in Lara Day Pry school, ikeja. Attended FGC, Ido-ani Ondo state and went to the University of Ilorin afterwards where I got a Bsc in Business Administration.
SelahAfrik: A lot of people were surprised when they learnt you are also an artiste, I for one was… Can you tell us about your multi-faceted talents?
Akin: I have always been multi-talended from when I was young. My parents discovered the artistic part of me at an early age and they encouraged me to study fine art in my secondary school which I did. So while I was in the university, I was doing graphics art, fine art. In my final year in the university, 1999 to be precise, I published a book called The Pursuit of Destiny and also released my first album titled IBA. So right from when I was young I had always been multi-faceted and my colleagues knew me for that. There is so much I can do that I have not manifested yet.
SelahAfrik: Between music and cinematography, which are you most passionate about?
Akin: I think they are both related. For cinematography to be complete it need sound. For sound to be more effective it needs visuals. I chose music video directing because I could enjoy both music and cinematography together. I am very passionate about both of them but I have devoted more time to the cinematography part of me. I just got to reviving the music part of me like 3years ago.
SelahAfrik: Tell us about how you began your journey in the entertainment/showbiz industry?
Akin: Well I started my journey by being an artiste. I released some songs btw 1999 and 2003. In 2003, I decided to leave music and graphics art and decided to begin video editing and animation. The first video I edited was the one that was shot for my song. So I used my video as my first project. Afterwards people started meeting me to edit for them. That was how my journey into the world of video production started. I eventually evolved into a video director.
SelahAfrik: How did you and your wife come about becoming partners, not just in life but in music as well?
Akin: I met my wife when I was an undergraduate in the University while she was in secondary school. I was her Sunday school teacher/Youth leader then in church. I never even knew she will be my wife until 8years after I had left school. We started T.I.V 4years after we got married. Initially I didn’t want to go back to music but she had a revelation when we got married that she saw both of us performing on a stage. That revelation was what gave me the courage to step back into music and God showed himself faithfully with the first song we released Komole.
SelahAfrik: A Gospel DJ mix flooded your timeline on twitter at the beginning of the year, you shared it and added words to support it, did you make the DJ mix, are you also a DJ?
Akin: I am not a DJ. But I did the dj mix just for personal use because I really love the idea of mixing different sounds and music together to form something new. I decided to share it because some people have been asking me for gospel hiphop selections. I also wanted to give people clean music they could dance to in the festive season. I don’t intend to be a DJ. Its just my own way of relaxation and experimentation.
SelahAfrik: What’s your take on Nigerian Gospel music video? Do you think we are doing enough compare to the secular counterpart?
Akin: My take on gospel videos is that it still has a long way to go. I think gospel artiste should start writing songs that’s out of the box. Let them create songs around themes that can be visually interpreted. The book of revelation is a visual book. The book of Psalms is very visual. Lets check Psalm23: “ The lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He leads me besides the still waters. Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death..” This are words that can be interpreted visually and creatively. Another thing is that of finance. Gospel artistes should forget about doing low budget videos if they really want to make maximum impact. Its either you do a very good video or don’t do one at all. This year I have determined to work with only those who are ready to take that step of excellence in projecting the delicate and precious message they have been entrusted to them.
SelahAfrik: How do you handle obscene scenes as a director during video shoot knowing fully well there are millions who the graphic representation will pass messages to?
Akin: That’s a very tough question. One, a musical video is ultimately the property of the artiste who wrote and owns the song. A director is bound the message of whatever song he has been given to work with. Personally, I am not a fan of obscene videos because I don’t think it has any positive contribution to the society. So you don’t see me doing those kind of videos except on few occasion and even then I do it discreetly because I am sensitive of the viewers. If people don’t want to see such things THEY should learn to speak out and not keep quiet about it.
SelahAfrik: I do not know much about cinematography but it seems the “Red Camera” is the real deal at the moment, seeing that you just acquired the new tool, can you tell us how this will enhance your production and Nigerian videos generally? You just shot a video for GT Da Guitarman, did the camera come in handy?
Akin: I actually used a more recent camera called the Blackmagic cinema camera to shoot the video. The camera is actually the rave of the moment worldwide and I am priviledged to own one of the few available in the country. The camera has a very wide dynamic range and is very cinematic. I believe my works this year will take on a new look and direction with the new cinema camera.
SelahAfrik: As a cinematographer, what will you say are the reasons why Nigerian music videos seems to be ahead in terms of quality compare to Nigerian movies?
Akin: Nigerian music videos have very high taste and they also know they are competing with foreign videos so they make sure they are making use of the latest equipment and facility. Nollywood on the other hand is slow on catching up with the latest technology in video production. Capital is also a huge factor that contributes to the difference. The cost of producing a 4min music video sometimes is what Nollywood uses to produces a 1hr movie. You cant expect the quality to be the same.
SelahAfrik: With your busy schedule, do you get time to relax?
Akin: I am a homely person. I don’t like going out much so I spend time with my family when I am not out of town. I relax by watching movies. I actually love watching Korean drama series at the moment.
SelahAfrik: Where would you say is your favourite vacation spot?
Akin: I love Lacampaigne Tropicana in Lagos. I also love to chill in South Africa..
SelahAfrik: What’s a regular Sunday in your life like?
Akin: I wake up and prepare to go to church. I am not an early riser – I listen to Praiseworld radio or One gospel for some minutes. On my way to the church, I tune in to Sabina’s show on NaijaFM. I usually get back from church by 1pm most times. After which relax at home.
SelahAfrik: What are you most comfortable wearing when going out for a shoot and when going out for a red carpet event?
Akin: I prefer wearing jeans and T-shirt when going for a video shoot. For red carpets I prefer wearing suits or jackets.
SelahAfrik: If you were to rate your top 3 Gospel artistes, who amongst the majority will make your list?
Akin: My top 3Gospel Artiste are; Kirk Franklin, Kenny Kore, Frank Edwards
SelahAfrik: So what should we be expecting from T.I.V next, any upcoming show, concert, album etc?
Akin: T.I.V is releasing a Love song this February. Its very different from what people have heard from us before and it is going to challenge and influence the perception of the society and even the church about what LOVE really is. Definitely we will also be having a concert by middle of the year.
SelahAfrik: Any last remark?
Akin: Be all you want to be. Live your life to the maximum unapologetically.
Follow @AkinAlabifilms on Twitter
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