Editorial Intern/Contributing Editor Nureni Ibrahim
Arts and Letters of Africa (Nigeria focus)
Featured Artist Interview:
Kwiksie Ifediora is a young multi-talent from Eastern Nigeria. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and finds literary art an apt medium for her fascination with the science of human behavior and logophilia to converge. Kwiksie has a wide range of interests that span mimicry, modeling, acting, cloud watching, amongst others. Her personal interests and passions find expression in songwriting, singing, nature photography, and counseling. Displaying an emerging interest in spoken word as art, Kwiksie has performed on various art platforms nationwide and enraptured entire audiences with her songs. She resides in Lagos with her pet hedgehog and is fond of spicy food and hearty laughter.
Ibrahim for O:JA&L: Hey, Kwiksie! May we kick off this interview with an introduction? What would you like to let us know about your background, your artistic productions as well?
Kwiksie: Background….hmmm. Well for starters, I’m Nigerian. My father is Ibo and my mother, Yoruba; so in good humor, I’ve often been referred to as “Yoribo.”
Without doubt, my parents played a tremendous role in my discovery of the beauty of satisfaction derived from the art of expression. Being rather atypical versions of the “Nigerian parent,” I was afforded liberty from my early years to identify the subjects and activities that interested and excited me most. With time, I observed two came up most frequently from the array of options – literature and music. I began singing from the age of three and officially wrote my first poem at age eleven.
Ibrahim for O:JA&L: I know you said your parents have tremendously helped in discovering your art of expression, do you have any mentor(s)? If yes, we would like to know them and, most significantly, how they have impacted greatly on you.
Kwiksie: Mentors huh? Well unfortunately, I can’t truthfully say I’ve gotten to enjoy the experience of being directly mentored by anyone. But I believe I have received mentoring vicariously at different points in my journey. There are several humans – artistes and otherwise – whom I admire, respect and whose work I find deeply edifying so sometimes I may be led to sign up for a newsletter or binge watch a couple interviews on Youtube or something; and by so doing things, I realize it makes me feel a slight sense of deeper connection to the person in question, which gives me some helpful insights into what informs their approach to art, the honing of their style and what not. I also learn a whole bunch of unplanned random stuff in those times, like DIY tricks on how to bathe your pet hedgehog.
I would say one of the most helpful tips I’ve picked up that many greats tend to agree on, is to avoid being a copycat. It’s great to have that person you look up to and nearly adore, but don’t get so wrapped up in another person or group of persons that you lose sight of yourself entirely. Synergize, experiment, mix and match, stumble, make tons of bloopers and somewhere in the mix, find your style and niche.
Ibrahim for O:JA&L: We’d appreciate if you could talk about what can influence your performance
Kwiksie: Tons of things can influence my performance – or anyone’s – so I’m not 100% sure what you mean. My attitude to all my art primarily revolves a desire to use it as a tool that not only reveals the frailty of our intrinsic ‘humanness’ and the varying pot holes and pinnacles we all encounter on our life’s race, but equally highlights the deep-seated, pretty much desperate need we collectively have for the Savior – Jesus. With that focus, my expressions can range from giddy joy to somber (near depressing) reflection and naturally, my performance would align with the core theme of whatever I’m presenting. I don’t always focus so much on the responsiveness of the audience; for one, it can be distracting if you have silly friends in the front row clowning, but also because that’s hardly a yardstick to measure if they’re getting the message. I personally am more content when there’s quiet and less raving– because that means they can actually hear what I’m saying.
Ibrahim for O:JA&L: How best would you describe your mode of presenting music?
Kwiksie: Uh, dynamic? Whimsical? I have tracks that could raise suspicion I have an affinity with the Caribbean, I have others that show off (slightly) the Ibo girl in me and there are yet some that could be something out of High School Musical. In fact, because I truthfully have zero formal training in music, it’s possible I’ve written songs that fall into genres I don’t even know exist yet. I basically just start off with a melody in my head and then words follow. Other times, a thought comes first, like I’m having a conversation with an imaginary character and then as the story emerges, I throw in a tune. I think I’m very flexible right now and yet to discover my ‘niche’ (if there is even one waiting for me). Whether that’s good or bad, we’ll have to see…
Ibrahim for O:JA&L: You said you write poetry aside from musical performances, may you talk about the interface between poetry and music?
Kwiksie: With all pleasure! (laughs) Many hold the belief that music is poetry without a tune behind, or that poetry requires more seriousness and literary prowess – something a lot consider song creation/lyrics lack. I think the biases contained in such widespread notions are more detrimental than useful because it inadvertently undermines the worth of one in comparison with the other. Truth be told, though song lyrics may not necessarily be taught in classrooms as poetry and a poetry reading may not make the cut for your iTunes playlist, I believe there is a strong common thread that runs across both forms of artistic expression and see no particular need to create these distinctions, as we know them, between the two. Personally, I had to find a way to converge my poems and music because there are some of my works on either spectrum that I am convinced would be best completed by the other. When I get to release some projects in the works, you would better understand how I have attempted to achieve this collaboration.
Ibrahim for O:JA&L: Aside from music and poetry, do you venture into other genres of literature? If yes, could you please shed light on what instructs your style of writing/work of art?
Kwiksie: I write stories, flash fiction, novelettes, plays, scripts – name it. I share some of my stories on my personal blog, “Spot The Difference” at www.kwiksie.com but am still networking and hoping to meet like minds in the industry to work with towards giving life to some of the concepts and plots I’ve been working on for a while now. I also write articles on a variety of subjects and this year, I’ve picked an interest in grant proposal writing, as it’s a skill that would be good for everyone to have in today’s world.
I consider myself an endless learner because I don’t think I’ve attained a quarter of the expertise there is to attain in the field of writing. So I consume a lot of literature to identify personal areas for growth and understand evolving trends so I can effectively meet the needs of my clients and readers – online, offline, billboards, transcribed podcasts – anything. I’ll read it if it’s in English and I’ll find a translation if it isn’t. A great irony would be a writer who does not read.
Ibrahim for O:JA&L: Could you please tell us what you consider as the most interesting in the process of composing music
Kwiksie: The inspiration behind it. I tend to be a very sentimental and emotional creature and once there is an important anchor attached to something I produce, it is most fulfilling and significant for me. Some of (what I would consider) my best works were inspired by very strong emotions attached to either the person I consider most vital to my existence and sustenance, others who bring special meaning to my life, or the struggles of my human family that I totally vibe with.
Ibrahim for O:JA&L: How many albums have you released so far? And where can one download your music?
Kwiksie: None oh. None yet. But soon. I’m working on releasing a collection before November so you need to be looking out for that. I have one or two songs and several recordings of spoken word poems on my Soundcloud account however, so you could check them out. When I release the collection, it would be available there, as well as lyric videos on my Youtube channel. Watch those spaces please – they’re quiet now but the volume is coming people! (laughs)
Ibrahim for O:JA&L: Is there among your songs a favorite, the one you like listening almost all the time?
Kwiksie: Yes. “Leaving Soon”. Funny enough, all I have of it is a phone recording but it will be part of the collection. It’s a really simple song with a lot of repetition, but that’s partly what I love about it. I was half-asleep when I heard the beat I wrote it to and woke up looking for a pen.
Ibrahim for O:JA&L: Do you have any upcoming performances?
Kwiksie: Before November? That’s unlikely. But hey, if I got someone ready to sponsor a track right after this interview, best believe I’ll get something together by the end of September! Straight. The songs are there – time and chance just haven’t happened to them yet.
Ibrahim for O:JA&L: How can you define art? For you, what is the role of art and artist in the contemporary society?
Kwiksie: That’s clearly an interviewer favorite, isn’t it? ‘What is art’? What if me I don’t know ‘nko?’ After all, we humans are still discovering our singular purpose and true identity. You see now?
Anyway, horsing aside, I believe art is the way mankind gives testament to the undisputed creative prowess of the Creator of the universe. Every artist we would like to duff a hat to, in all fields and genres, the unlikeliest folk and the born geniuses – The Creator created ALL. So it is my belief that when we express our intelligence, passion, history, vision, longing, sorrow, joy – whatever – we are further proving a Truth of which we are proof.
In my opinion, it’s a bit presumptuous to go ‘this is that’ because if there is any truth, it is that the ideal is yet to be the reality – for earth, as we know it. So, I believe art and the artist in our day has a responsibility to use talent, platform and reach of influence to create the spark, fan the flame and burn the bridges that are committed to keeping us linked to the institutionalized narcissism and myopia that make us, as a people, basal versions of humanity. But we can only burn the bridges without when we first tackle the ones within; so let’s start with us – examining the motive comes first, followed by changing the narrative.
About the Interviewer: Nureni Ibrahim is a researcher and critic of contemporary writing who lives and writes in Nigeria. He studied English and Literature at the Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, Nigeria. He is among the 2017 scholars of the Nigeria Higher Education Foundation, New York. Ibrahim has presented papers in local and international conferences. He once supported Wawa Book Review Africa (as a fellow and young critic) where he wrote review of books published by writers on the African continent. Ibrahim is a spoken word artist and has performed poetry at Ahmadu Bello University Day of Literature, Footprints of David Arts Festival and a league of others. His works are featured in Decent E-News, Queensland, Australia; The Mamba Journal of the Africa Haiku Network, Kumasi, Ghana; Shamrock Haiku Journal, Dublin, Ireland; Best ‘New’ African Poets 2016 Anthology, Langaa RPCIG, Cameroon, to mention but a few. He currently works closely with the associate editor at the Open: Journal of Arts & Letters, United States.
Images: All images courtesy of Kwiksie Ifediora.