The Nigerian rock music sphere is becoming an attraction for artistes with superior skills in the genre and one of them is The White Noise Supremacists (TWNS), a one-woman band that was groomed in New York, United States.
One thing that is hard to miss about TWNS controlled by its only member Ifeoluwa Babalola, is the exquisite form of expression it selected as a channel for its sounds. It abandoned a well structured habitat for music in the U.S just to explore a Naija rock scene that is still in the morning of its growth.
TWNS, having only spent only a month since returning to Nigeria (September 2017) has secured a performance at the annual rock music festival, Rocktoberfest, a platform in its third year known for supporting the growth of rock music in Nigeria. The band’s journey has been nothing but a favourable one.
Though only little can be said about the band’s experiences when it concerns its level of acceptance in the country, but whatever diction used in describing its chances, the word ‘promising’ should be one in a list of choices.
“Mmmm, I don’t know yet. I’ve only been living here for 1 month and have not met many people yet so I will have to see as time unfolds,” Babalola told Pulse News when discussing the reception of her band.
“But within 1 month I’ve already got a gig at Rocktoberfest so that seems very promising. I think there is a Nigerian way of thinking that has more to do with our indigenous cultures and beliefs and there is a Nigerian way of thinking that has everything to do with post-colonial brainwashing.
“I am hoping to find people who are more like the former and not the latter. I think Nigerians, by nature, are very curious, analytical and open minded (look how many of us go into the fields of computers, technology and medicine and travel abroad to learn other people’s languages and cultures in order to live and work in their countries.) Because of this nature, I think it will be easier to find an audience here.
“Though I am unlike most Nigerians in that I am an atheist, vegan and a feminist, I think that beyond the closed minded ones that will have knee jerk reactions about me, there will be some that are curious and are interested in hearing a different perspective about life and may end up questioning the world and their society in ways they never thought to do before.
“Or maybe they thought about it, but never felt they could speak up or find other Nigerians who feel the same. I hope The White Noise Supremacists will be a hub for those types of people to connect.”
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Babalola, the soul of the band would enjoy her sojourn a bit more if the genre can be rid of the sentiments concerning religion in Nigeria and allow it to maintain its identity which she submitted relies on the premise of being able to explore without restriction.
Unfortunately, there is no actual freedom in art in Nigeria or Africa in general as the society seem to place more priority on traditional values over an artistic inkling. This tends to limit the true potential of an entity as it strives to fulfill the conditions of acceptance.
“I think it’s (Naija rock) cool but I wish there was less of an obsession with pushing religion. At the foundation of rock music is free thinking and rebellion. I think it’s kind of contradictory, in a way. I mean, you can have Christian rock. But there has to be room to not be religious as well. There has to be room for free thinking and choice.
“So many Nigerians try to impose their beliefs on others. If you are happy with what you believe, shouldn’t it bring you peace?
“If your beliefs make you want to attack, exclude and punish others, I think you should be honest with yourself and examine whether your beliefs are about love, peace and goodness or if it’s really just about fear, power and controlling other people.”
The hindrance associated with a freedom of expression in music is alien to Babalola whose experience at an art house opened her up to idea of starting a rock band. Early grooming came for her thanks to Viacom’s music channel MTV, a global entertainment brand that furnished her with songs released by rock bands in the 90s’.
TWNS is coming from an informed atmosphere that supports the idea of getting any available Naira for efforts put into releasing a musical project. The band already has three EPs and seem to have a well structured way of making money from the list of works.
“I have 3 EPs (1 is available for purchase only at live shows) and 2 singles available digitally on iTunes, Spotify and other retailers that can be found through my website.”
Until recently, it has been a gradual push for exposure for Ifeoluwa Babalola who has had to switch between getting a job, pursuing an academic programme or simply just doing nothing about the music based on exhaustion. An epiphany about relocating to Nigeria from the United States of America came to her years and now she seems to be finally making the needed move.
Once she is settled in the country, she plans to embark on her debut album which she hopes to release before the end of the year 2017. The idea that a former US-based Nigerian artiste considers pursuing her craft in her native country is perhaps proof that Naija rock music has grown in substance.
The current year has so far been the most active one for the genre which has seen an influx of new acts. Maybe this development might soon give critics a reason to raise their thumbs high to a point of visibility as they finally start to notice the vibrance in the sparsely patronized type of music called rock.