Tosin Ajirire and Josephine Chidebe
Austria-based Nigerian songwriter cum singer, Rose May Alaba, started writing her own songs as a teenager. Two years ago, she started doing music professionally. Now, at 23, she has four singles to her credit, including writing the theme song of the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games and showcasing the stuff she’s made of at the 2015 Austria Music Awards.
Rose May, a younger sister to David Alaba, the Bayern Munich striker, was born to a dad, George, who was a musician on the label of the defunct Tabansi Records and whose stable mates were Majek Fashek, Chris Okotie and Felix Liberty, as well as a Filipino mum, Gina, who was also a singer.
A pop star in Austria, Rose May was recently in Nigeria to familiarise herself with the stakeholders in the entertainment industry. She opened up to Entertainer on her career and sundry issues. Enjoy it.
When did you start doing music?
I am Rose May Alaba. I am 23-years-old. I am from Ogere Remo, Ogun State. My dad is a Nigerian and my mum is a Filipino. I have been doing music my whole life. At the age of 13 or 14, I began to write my own songs, but first of all, I had to finish school. I went to acting school; I finished that like two or three years ago. Then I started to do music professionally. I have released four singles already and I am very proud of myself. I have written many songs and the last one, ‘Take Your Time’ was co-written by me and Melons Richard, a German.
I have tried to find my own sound, I am still not there yet but coming here (Nigeria) is really inspiring for me, and working with producers and songwriters really gives me the insight into music and I really love music. My friends in Austria listen to African music and they have introduced me to it and I am very proud to be here.
What actually inspired your four singles?
The first song I released professionally was ‘All of This is You’ in 2016. I released the second single at the end of 2016, it’s called ‘Love Me Right. At the beginning of 2017, I released ‘Can You Feel It’, which topped the Austrian music charts for many weeks. This was actually a production for Coca Cola, for the Special Olympics. Last year September, I released my latest single, ‘Take Your Time’. These are my four singles so far.
What inspired the songs?
Can You Feel It is a work I really admire because it was a production for Coke for the Special Olympics. They asked me to write a song for the Special Olympics and the experience was so amazing to me meeting new people. Meeting the contestants of the Special Olympics was really close to my heart and I would never forget that.
The first time you went into a studio to record, what was the feeling like?
I was very, very nervous. It was my first time in a studio and I was very young and I learnt a lot of things. I was 16 at that time and I was very insecure of the work that I have done.
You have been away for so many years, so why coming back to Nigeria now?
I was born and raised in Austria. I told myself that when I release my first single then I would start thinking of going back to my roots, and I am really proud that I am here working with different producers and songwriters here in Nigeria. For the past years, I have been listening to different African music. I wanted to find my own voice and I wanted to mix pop music, the mainstream music that I do with African sound, and that’s the main reason why I have come back home.
Is there any Nigerian producer you are looking forward to work with?
Yes, someone like Maleek Berry, Don Jazzy. Actually, I was in the studio two days ago with a DJ, which was really cool. There are top ten Nigerian producers and songwriters I am looking forward to work with, to make great music with.
We have Nigerian musicians like Sheyi Shay, Tiwa Savage who grew up in the United States but came back home to do music. In your own case, are you here to stay or you’re just here to do one or two singles and then go back to Austria?
I won’t regret moving here. Though, I have everything there, and like I said, I was born and raised in Austria and I can imagine coming back to Nigeria to record and do more singles.
How would you describe your music and who are your musical idols?
I’ll describe my sound as more like R&B and pop with a kind of urban feel to it. Actually, I am still finding my sound. I am still looking for it and I hope in the future I can tell for sure what my sound is.
Do you have collaboration plan with any Nigerian artiste?
Yes, I have plans for three collaborations, but I don’t want to say anything about it yet. I just hope it comes out great.
Nigerian music is very competitive and has its own challenges, since you are not based here; are you ready for this?
Yes, I think so. I am ready and I am a believer in God and He would not give me doors that are too hard to open or go through. Also, as an artiste, you have to be ready, dedicated and passionate about what you love doing, and if you put your heart to it, there is nothing you cannot achieve.
Do you play any instruments?
Yes, keyboard and guitar. When my parents realised that I had talent for music, they helped me to fulfill it by teaching me the piano at the age of seven. By that time YouTube was popular, so when I turned 13, I discovered that all my idols were playing the guitar, so that really inspired me to teach myself how to play the guitar via YouTube.
How has music influenced you positively?
In the music business, there are people who are after the money and there are people who are just trying to help, and I guess it’s not always easy because you will not find the right person at the beginning. So, it takes time to build a team and do music, and the positive thing is I love being on stage, I love doing music, and I love the people who are supporting music.
What is the reception to your music in Austria?
I am very well known in Austria. Austria is my country of birth and it’s not actually hard for me to get recognised there.
How is like tracing your root back to Nigeria?
I love the people for sure, I love the culture, and I love how I am been treated here. This is my root and I can never deny my root. The last time I came home was 13 years ago, and I still had the memories of then, especially the traffic. In fact, I miss the Lagos traffic.
Do you have any project you are working on presently?
Yes, I have. I was in the studio two days ago. I am working on a new song, I am bringing African vibe into the song, and I am really excited about it.
What ingredient is essential in making your sound the way it is?
I think it’s my voice, because my voice is different from every other voice. My voice is the main ingredient that makes the sound to my music.