By Eric Elezuo, Jane Efagwu and Tope Ogunleye
Life has its way of taking one from one dream edge to another. While doing what one thinks he loves, nature can decide to render something much better thereby thrusting the individual favourably into greater achievements. Such is the story of new rave of the moment artiste, Dante. With hits like Dance to the bass (Belinda), the 23 year old recording artiste is set to take over the scene. In this interview with this promising young man, he revealed his inner self, career choice and qualities that stand him out as the next juiciest piece. Below are the interesting excerpts:
Can we meet you?
My name is Daniel Onoja. I am a 23-year-old Kogi born artist. I was born to a family of two. I am a graduate of Public Administration from Kogi State University. My stage name is Dante.
How did you come about your stage name, Dante?
I got it when I was younger from a movie titled “The Last Dawn” and also a video game character from “Devil May Cry” because I did a lot of gaming when I was growing. Since my name is Daniel, my cousin started calling me Dante after the villain in the movie, “The Last Dawn”. The name stuck and I adopted it as my stage/brand name.
How did you get into music?
I started off my music by dancing during my days in the university. I used to be a dancer for ATC club. ATC stood for All Talented Christians. It was actually a gospel dancing group. The group used to do dance, comedy and music. While dancing to different songs, I realized I could create my own songs so that was how I started off. I first started with rapping then slowly I started to develop my craft.
So, are you still a dancer?
No I am not a dancer anymore. I stopped dancing because I started doing music.
Do you write your songs?
Yes I do. I am a songwriter. I write all of my songs.
How long does it take you to write songs?
It actually depends on the song. Sometimes it takes me a week, a month and so on. It has taken me three years to write a song before.
Ok, where do you draw inspiration from as an artist?
I draw inspiration from people like Wizkid, Tuface, Tori Lanez, Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar. I majorly draw inspiration from Wizkid here in Nigeria while Tori Lanez is the one person I look up to, internationally.
Why do you pick these two?
I admire Wizkid because of his versatility. He is an artist who is able to jump on any beat be it Afrobeats, RnB, Hip-Hop and still do it well. On the other hand, I love Tori Lanez because of his brand as Hip-Hop artist and his commercial sound. He has the voice that can sell so many records like he did with his hit song, “Luv”.
What are the challenges you’ve faced so far as an artist?
Firstly, funding have been a major challenge in my career. Also, the level of acceptability of the genre of music I’m into because the Nigerian market doesn’t really accept trap music so I have tried to diversify my sound by doing sounds that have reggae, highlife, afrobeats, dancehall and alkayida beats. But funding has been the biggest challenge so far.
Have you changed totally or are you coming back to more hip-hop and trap music later on?
I will do hip-hop and trap music later on after I have been able to gain strong followership and audience but not for now.
You mentioned funding as a big challenge earlier, how do you combine searching for funds and making good music?
For now, I am no longer searching for funds because I am being sponsored by the Kogi State Government. Although I don’t think funding is a problem anymore, I still have to work on penetrating the market and making good music for my fans.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
In five years, I see myself churning out more hit songs and unforgettable performances. I see myself being more acceptable to the listening public. By that time, I must have done something to captivate my audience and win their loyalty. I also hope to have created more awareness for the brand, Dante. Generally I see myself achieving a lot in terms of music in the next five years.
A career in entertainment can be draining so how do you relax?
I really love music a lot. I also love fashion. I love to create beautiful apparels. I am currently working on a line of vintage shirts along with accessories, jewelries called Vinx clothing. With time, I hope the clothing brand grows and I can include other things. But I’m still a worker. I work with the Internal Revenue Service of Kogi state.
Are you based in Lagos or Kogi?
I am actually based in Abuja but I shuffle between Abuja and Kogi because my sponsors are based in Kogi but I am trying to move to Lagos because it is the hub of entertainment.
Your song, Dance to the bass, has just bagged a top spot on the trending charts, how do you feel?
I feel really good. I never really expected it to be such a hit. I haven’t really received negative remarks about the song but I’m open to all opinions. The song is already available for download on most online and I’m hoping to hear people’s views on the song.
Professionally, how long have you been doing music?
I have been doing music for about four to five years now but this is my official debut into the Nigerian industry because this is the first time I’m doing this kind of promotion for a song. I’m also currently shooting the video for Dance for the bass-Belinda.
What do you think attracted people to the song?
I think it’s the type of beat used- the Ghanaian alkayida beat is trending right now and the wave isn’t ending soon because a lot of artists like Wizkid, Ycee and Mr. Eazi has used the beat on their various songs. I got a beat from the producer and I was able to show my creativity on it.
Do you have a girlfriend?
No I don’t have one right now. I broke up with my former girlfriend because she was putting so much pressure on me to give her time and attention and I couldn’t do that because I was really busy with music and I wasn’t able to meet up. I’m actually looking forward to meeting someone who’ll have tolerate me.
What should we be looking forward to from Dante?
The video of my song, Dance to the bass is being shot currently at Abuja and it will be released next month to all entertainment stations like Trace, MTVBase, Soundcity etc. Also my YouTube VEVO channel should come up soon. It’s going to be called, OnlyDanteVEVO.
Let’s do a quick five question and answer session
Eba or fufu– Fufu
Tiwa Savage or Yemi Alade– Yemi Alade
Light skinned or dark skinned girls– Light skinned girls
Beans and bread or beans and garri– Beans and Garri
Snapchat or Instagram– Instagram