Growing up, songstress Lami Phillips was surrounded by family members who are music enthusiasts. Now pursuing her dream as a musician, the lead female artiste on Alter Plate Record Label, run by Harrysong, spoke to DUPE AYINLA-OLASUNKANMI on her personal life and career.
Soul music is what you do; how acceptable do you find the genre here?
Soul music is like fine wine. Regardless of the country or environment you’re in, you have to understand that it’s not for everyone. Nigerians have been kind to me; those who love what I do, love what I do.
Why did you feature Tiwa Savage in your single, ‘So Amazing’?
She’s an awesome sister to me and I just realized we hadn’t worked together. This song was a great fit for her vocal texture and her truth.
How would you describe a single as supposed to an album?
An album isn’t superior to a single. It’s usually wise to let certain songs breathe on their own before releasing an album. It helps your fans know what the album (body of works) is about.
What makes you different from others?
Well, I can’t really say. I don’t really know “others” 100% …but I know me. I’m real. I’m not under pressure to be anyone or anything else. I’m not doing this for attention or popularity (although that can be flattering), I love music and the art of it because it comes from my soul, helps me communicate my feelings and takes me to a different space all the time. In a world where “likes” matter, I just care about relevance and truth.
Having discovered music early in life, how easy was it, combining music with school?
Whatever you consider a passion, you must get good, even great at. While earning my degree, I also saved money for music and theatre school. Yes, it’s difficult but nothing great ever came easy. From Roedean School, my theatre instructor told me “you’re different; don’t stop chasing your light”. So I just kept pushing and discovering more of myself. Nothing great ever comes from a comfort zone, so once I’m too comfortable I know I need to expand my horizon.
You sang your first song at the age of eight, and hoped that it would be used as one of Disney’s theme songs; are you still pursuing that dream?
To be honest, not anymore. I’m just focused on making good music and letting the universe decide. It’s tough doing what we do in Nigeria and sometimes the odds go in a different direction, but you stay hopeful and keep creating magic!
Having spent most of your growing years abroad, how has it been, moving back to Nigeria?
Well, I won’t lie, Nigeria isn’t the easiest place to function, the industry here is tough, but this is where I have family and that outweighs everything else. I still sometimes feel like I don’t fit in, or that my way of thinking is different, but it’s okay. We all can’t be the same. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have travelled and lived in different continents because it gave me an open mind to understand people and myself. It also taught me to be kind and accepting of individualism.
Tell us more about ‘So Amazing’?
So Amazing is a song about empowerment, self-affirmation and determination of preservation of self, contentment and peace. The initiative seeks to work with like-minded individuals and organizations to empower the children in our environment. I run leadership training for pre-teens and teens and love volunteering as a counselor in that capacity also. The younger generation is facing a completely different reality and we need to do all we can to equip them mentally to be great!
How has funding been for your career?
Promoting music in Nigeria is very expensive. It takes about six million to promote one song. Investors make a big difference. I endeavour to collaborate with organizations to relieve myself of the heavy expenses but it’s still tough. My goal isn’t for cars or flashy jewelry (not because they are bad but because it’s not really who I am). My goal is to be financially free and wealthy and I’m learning how to use my gifts and skills to get there.
The ultimate goal is peace of mind so I don’t do more than I should…
How do you feel, being the first lady of Alter Plate Music?
Harry is like my father! Protective and invested in helping me articulate my vision. We are learning more about each other and fine tuning our working relationship. The great thing is, as an artiste who has had to work hard to come up, he gets me and is mindful of whom I am. He isn’t trying to make me compromise my values, my sound or myself.
Do you see another female on the label stealing the show?
I am my only threat. I never see another woman or person as a threat. I’m too secure in my identity and purpose for that! I hate that they keep making women think they are threats to each other. I love it when I see another woman succeed; it tells me there is hope and reminds me that women are powerful beyond comprehension.
You have been married for over 10 years, how do you manage your career with your home?
There’s nothing to manage. My career is my job, my home is my life. I simply prioritize. Nothing and nobody can compare or compete with my husband or kids. They are my life.
Tell us about your parents’ support regarding your career?
My parents created a very nurturing environment for me to fall in love with music. I was exposed to all genres of music and forms of art at a young age.