By Nwankwo Calista
Twenty-nine year-old Ajayeoluwa Funmilayo is a graduate of Accounting and fast rising female saxophonist. In this chat with TS Weekend, the instrumentalist talks about her career and how she has fared so far including plans for her sophomore album release in 2017.
Tell us about yourself?
I am Ajayeoluwa Funmilayo aka Funmisax. Funmisax is just a combination of my name, Funmi and sax which is the instrument I play. I am a contemporary saxophonist and a student and I also teach people how to play sax. I am fun to be with.
There is something very masculine about the sax. Why Sax?
(Laughter) I never knew what the saxophone looked like until I saw it and fell in love with it. One of those that inspired me was Kenny G. Anytime I listen to his music it touches my soul. I started as a member of the Brigade Band in church. As soon as I saw the sax I dumped my drums and went for it. It is over 12 years now and I have never for one day thought of dumping it because it makes me fulfilled.
What was your parent’s reaction?
Wow! My parents are the best on earth. It was as if a prophet already told them that someone was going to play an instrument in the family. When I was in secondary school they told me ‘you can’t do both for now, just finish up with your studies and then you can make your dream a reality.’ They are also backing me up with prayers. They neither have silver nor gold because I am not from a wealthy family but now I eat with both silver and gold spoons (laughter). My parents have been very supportive and I am so proud of them.
Could you recount your first big show?
I can’t place my fingers on every show and every stage I have performed because I see as big every performance I have had; I see every show as a stepping stone. I have never taken any show as a lesser or a bigger show. For me, anywhere I find myself I believe it is God’s will and he wants me to do something there. There are so many places I have been to that I cannot even remember both home and abroad. I was in Dubai twice last year and it was an awesome ministration. October last year I was at Festival of Love in the UK. I also performed at a major event at the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) last year and it was awesome performing before 45,000 people. I believe that everywhere I find myself is just an opportunity.
Why do you play only Christian songs?
Well, it’s just a choice I made for myself when I faced challenges years back. I did my WAEC and did not make my papers in one sitting. And those days, if you are to have a re-sit, you have to pay and register as an external student and my parents were not rich so it was really painful for me. Eventually my parents gave me the money and I told God ‘if I make all my papers, I will serve you all my life with my instrument.’ I rewrote the exam and I made all of my papers and since God had played his part, it was now left for me to fulfil my promise and here we are today.
When are you dropping your album?
Well, I had my first album in 2013 entitled Grace, and by next year 2017, I will be working on another one. It is going to be hot!
Which musicians would you love to do collabo with?
My dream is to work with Timi Dakolo. And talking about the saxophone, I am planning on working with Mike Aremu; he is one of my mentors.
Why Timi Dakolo?
His songs are cool and the message is clear. I think music has gone past just making noise and jumping up and down. Music is supposed to be message filled and that is what you will always find in Timi Dakolo’s music. I think working with him will be great and besides, he is highly respected.
How many hours do you practice in a day on the sax?
Well, it is not all the time I practice. I practice two or three times weekly. I practice for at least an hour whenever I do. Sometimes, God gives you a song to play in your dream and you wake up and simulate playing the sax because you can’t go to bed with your instrument. That is how you create an enduring friendship and relationship with your sax (laughter).
Are you married?
No, marriage is a stage in life, it is a level I am about to cross. When I get married I might not have time to do certain things anymore.
Are you saying that when you get married you will dump the sax?
(Laughter) What I mean is that the time I dedicate to it will be reduced because it won’t be all about me anymore; it is two becoming one. I won’t lie to you, there are things you would want to achieve but once you get married you can’t so you just have to let go.