BN Saturday Celebrity Interview: “I’m Proud to be Sexy” EME’s First Lady Niyola takes us on her Musical Journey & tells us Why She’s on the RISE!

niyola 4There is something about the first lady of EME Records, Niyola that grabs your attention and locks it down whenever she’s in the spotlight. Eniola Akinbo popularly known as Niyola discovered her affinity for music at the age of 8 and has nurtured her musical skills over the years. Her unique story started in 2000 when she took part in the AMEN starlet competition and emerged as first runner up. Since then, she has had record deals with West Side Records, Trybe Records and most recently EME Records where she was featured on several tracks on the EME Empire Mates State of Mind album alongside leading Nigerian acts, Wizkid, Banky W and Skales; including her debut single as the EME First Lady, titled ‘Don’t Delay Me (Don’t Go There)’. In this exclusive interview with Adeola Adeyemo, Niyola takes us on a journey through her musical career, speaks about her personality, her record deal and being sexy!

You must have been very busy during the holidays with the EME Concert and your performances at other shows. How was your experience?
It was really hectic. As a matter of fact, I’ve lost so much weight and I’m now trying to get it back on. But I was doing what I love to do. I had a lot of fun but I’m back to work. I’m back in the studios now recording.

Are you working on any new songs?
This January as I promised last year, I’m going to drop two singles. I’ve also been doing some local and international collaborations which I can’t talk about now but you will hear soon.

Journey to EME
How does it feel like being the first lady of one of the hottest record labels around now?
I feel pretty special because having left the industry for so long, over three years, and coming back to be on EME is special. I’m thankful to God and to EME for actually spotting something special in me to think that they would sign me.

Many people didn’t know about you before you joined EME. What was the music industry like in the past and which record label were you signed on to?
The industry has changed and there are a new crop of artistes around. Back then it was Sound Sultan, Faze, Baba Dee, Sasha, myself and Trybesmen, but the industry has grown and there are a whole lot more people now. I was on West Side Records. I had two singles out on West Side, one was Call My Name and the other was Bring It On. This was around 2008/2009. Before then I was under Trybe Records.

That’s interesting. What was the acceptance of your music like when you were under these two record labels?
Music is not what it used to be back then. It is more accepted now. Back then, it was strictly about people who wanted to do music for the passion because we all went through a lot. People thought music was for those who dropped out of school.

Why did you leave Trybe Records?
The Trybesmen split and eLDee travelled to the US and I had to leave.

How did you move on after the split?
I was doing music on my own for a while. Freestyle had a production outfit so we were working together on some stuff but while I was working with him, I did a song with Faze and somehow I go on the same record label with Faze called West Side. I had an album off West Side but it was unfortunate that immediately the album was released, my contract expired. I also had two videos. It was also around that time I took a break from music. This was between 2009 and 2012.

What did you do during this break?
Plenty stuff. I went to rehabilitate myself (laughs).

After passing through two record labels and taking a long break, how did the record deal with EME come about?
I had always known Banky from back in the days. He saw me then and asked why I wasn’t doing music. I told him I really wanted to do music but I didn’t think I had enough resources. I was actually trying to make a comeback then and I did a song with Skales. It was during that period that he suggested we should work on a song. Around that time, there was a rape incident at ABSU and he was worried that no female had come out to sing about and we decided to do a song together and that is how we started until I eventually got signed.

The First Lady of EME
How does it feel like being the only female on a record label with other male artistes?
I feel special. Everybody is constantly looking out for me. They are all like my brothers.

Tell me about their individual personalities. What comes to your mind when you think of each of them?
Banky is like the father of the family. He looks out for everybody, suffice to say that he watches over everybody. Skales is very reserved but he can come out of his shell sometimes. Shaydee is the clown of the group, always making everybody laugh. DJ Xclusive is also a clown. Wizkid is also very funny. Everybody is unique in their own way.

Shaydee, Wizkid, Niyola, Skales & Banky W

How is the relationship between everyone on the team?
Everybody is cool with everybody. It’s like one big, happy, playful family. We have our times when we disagree, but we disagree to agree. Eight out of ten times, we are always supporting each other, personally and when it comes to music because that’s what a family should be like.

There have been a number of splits between artistes and their record labels in recent times. You witnessed one while you were with Trybe Records. Do you have any fears that you might ever be in that situation at EME?
No, not at all.

Rumours are being spread about an impending split between EME and another prominent member of the team. Is there any truth in this?
I wouldn’t know anything about that but one thing for certain is that there are contracts and agreements in every relationship any artiste has with his record label. If anybody goes out saying there is going to be a split, it’s funny because it is what is stated in the contract that would be done.

So tell me, what special thing do you bring to the table. What makes you stand out?
First off, I’m the only female, that’s got to be special. I have my own uniquneness with my sound; my sound is different from everybody else. As much as I’m a standalone entity, I also support everybody else as they support me.

How would you describe your sound?

I’m still doing a lot of experimenting, I wouldn’t want to put myself in a box. But I would basically say I do contemporary R&B pop. If I feel like doing Soul, I would.

There was a lot of anticipation built up to the release of your “Don’t Delay Me” music video. But when it was released, quite a number of people were not happy with it.
You can’t please everybody but I think in life and in this path that I have chosen, what matters most is you do your best. If you do whatever you do to the best of your ability, then you’d be satisfied. When people talk, you’d know that you did the best that you could do because you know you can’t please everybody. But there is always room for improvement.

Why did you choose Lynxxx as your love interest in the video?
Because he is good looking.

Was it your idea to use him?
Banky and I had been talking about how we wanted to bring into the picture different guys who had known faces. We actually wanted to use some other people, about three guys, but they weren’t available for that period so we had to use Lynxxx and Gbenro and that is because they are good looking.

The Sexy Diva
Tell me about your unique personality and how it reflects in your music and in your message.
I am very reserved, I wouldn’t say I’m quiet. A lot of people can mistake that at times for cockiness but I’m really just a reserved person. I believe that everybody has something special and I think that my strength is in the talent that I have. With my music, I realize that one of my strong points is being able to reach out to people and make them feel better about themselves, let them know they can be better. I believe God has given me a platform where I can reach out to more than one person at a time. So with my music, I’m passing across a message.

When people see Niyola on their screens and in pictures, they see a sexy lady. What is the relationship between being sexy and succeeding as a female artiste? Do you really have to be sexy to sell your music?
I always tell people that sexiness is not something that can be bought; you either are sexy or not. I’m how I am not as a result of what I’ve tried to be. This is who I am, I cannot help it. God created every woman as eye candies to the men. God created us for the men. The only thing that makes a difference is that if you let people see that this is all you’re about, then there is a problem. Yes, I’m sexy; I’m not afraid to admit that I’m sexy. I’m proud to be sexy but that is not all that there is to me. I’m somebody’s sister, one day I’m going to be a mother, I’m somebody’s friend, somebody’s child… I don’t see anything wrong in being who I am. This is what comes naturally. If people see it, it’s not my fault.

If any female artiste doesn’t consider herself as being sexy, what are the chances she has of succeeding in the music industry?
Look for your strength. There is something unique to everybody. If you’re not sexy, there must be something about you that is special. Maybe it’s your voice, maybe it’s your smile. Look at Jill Scott, the special thing about her is her smile. Her smile would melt anybody’s heart and that is her strong “selling point” like D’Prince would say. So look for your selling point and bring it to the fore.

Growing up, Fashion & Relationships
What is your educational background like?
I studied Journalism at the Independent Journalism Center owned by PM News, and I went on to study English Language at the University of Lagos. I also did some courses in Travel & Tourism and I’m still studying.

That’s interesting. Did you ever work as a journalist?
I was working with a magazine, Podium International sometime ago as an editor and I used to write as well. But music is too strong a passion that I can’t suppress it. I feel like that is what I was born to do.

Tell me about your family and growing up. What are the experiences that stand out?
I come from a very large family. We were 13 but now we’re 12 because I lost my sister. I’m the last of everybody. I spent a lot of time in boarding school and it taught me to be very independent. My father was very strict so there was no room for being spoilt. He believed that because I was the last child, I had chances of being spoilt which is why I was the only one who went to boarding school. I felt he was being wicked but now I have him to thank for how I turned out.

How did you come about the name Niyola?
My name is Eniola. My dad used to call me Eni-yola.

When did you discover your passion for music?
I actually discovered that I could sing when I was about eight years old courtesy of my father. I always liked to sing. I would sing while doing my house chores. I used to sing along to Diana Ross and Mariah Carey’s songs. In 2000, I entered for a competition at the AMEN Awards and I was the first runner up.

Talking fashion now, I notice that you wear the colour black quite often. Just like today, you are wearing black.
I’m wearing black today because I’m mourning Dr Irawo Adamolekun.

Oh, please accept my condolences. Was he close to you?
He wasn’t that close to me but I knew him because he was my manager’s very good friend. I saw him during the Christmas period. We partied together one night and he was making fun of me, telling me “you look like you’re not Nigerian, are you Nigerian?” I feel very bad about his death. We are doing his candle light procession today.

So black is not really your colour?
I actually do love black, I can’t lie. But I also like other colours. My favourite colour is orange and I like green.

How would you describe your style?
I just like to keep it simple, yet classy. I don’t like extravagance.

Is Niyola in any relationship at the moment?

Why not? 
Just because.

Just because… ?
Just because why do I have to be in a relationship? There are always exceptions so maybe I’m one of those exceptions.

What are the qualities your ideal guy should have?
I don’t believe there’s anything like an ideal guy. But I like an intelligent guy with a sense of humour who has an understanding of God because I believe that if you love God, you would love man. And he must be mature.

Let’s say a guy comes along with these qualities you’ve mentioned. Will you be ready to start a relationship with him?
I don’t know, until then.

It was great chatting with Niyola and from, we wish her the very best!

Niyola – Don’t Delay Me(Don’t Go There)

50 Comments on BN Saturday Celebrity Interview: “I’m Proud to be Sexy” EME’s First Lady Niyola takes us on her Musical Journey & tells us Why She’s on the RISE!
  • Olufunmi January 19, 2013 at 10:13 am

    she looks like Ashanti

    • The traditional priminster January 20, 2013 at 2:38 am

      lmaooooo i don die laughing, biggest lie of the century. she ait, but cant compare to ashanti in looks.

      • buchi January 21, 2013 at 1:54 pm

        i think there’s a resemblance with ashanti too. so its not a lie n y the hard laughter? in my opinion, ashanti is not that high up there in looks

  • Daeze87 January 19, 2013 at 11:06 am

    hmmm im still not sure whether this girl can sing, sometimes it sounds like she can other times….

    • Msunderstood January 19, 2013 at 4:45 pm

      Even after listening to dis song? Yes, she can sing.

  • Meme January 19, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    who lied to her about being sexy?

  • Opel January 19, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    About her singing talent,well we’re yet to find out.She’s cute tho,n luks like she has something to offer,

  • chica January 19, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    Niyola’s eyes…
    Nice song and video. I remember her from Trybes records, girl can sing. I wish her the very best.

  • Maury January 19, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    There is jst something off about this babe

    • handsignals January 19, 2013 at 4:41 pm

      I agree.Can’t place my finger on it. All the best to her though.

      • nina onita January 19, 2013 at 10:32 pm

        ummm am gonna go out and say it and i dont care if bella naija dont post it, pr am called a hater, so let me hate. I dont think this chick is pretty neither hot, she is okay, but i think banky is trying tooo hard to make her hot. This is just my opinion, the best to her.

    • NV Daramola January 20, 2013 at 5:24 am

      Something off about her? Give us an idea…or you’re just having a ‘feeling in your gut’ about something?

  • what January 19, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    I like her……

  • Cathy January 19, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    Cute songstress, some people don’t know she’s been around for a long time, still love all of my days by faze ft niyola, u guys gotta do dat song on my wedding. U go gurl, n u sure sexy

  • Mz Socially Awkward…. January 19, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    I’ve never really paid attention to this chick before now but she gave an honest interview and I can’t knock her hustle. Plus, she’s undeniably hot and I love the fact that she’s not afraid to own her sexiness. I say “own” because I see the boldness of her photos and the steel in her eyes like she knows Naija aint quite ready for what she’s bringing but she’s just doing her thing regardless.

    Loved the video as well. Just hope that she knows where to find her limits and not allow herselve to get pushed into that “video vixen” box which the Nigerian music industry seems to want it’s females to be contained in (with the sadly few exceptions of Omawunmi, Asa & Nneka). So, Niyola, a video like “Dont Delay me” is all very well and good but try and mix it up a bit and bring a different side of you with other tracks. Like you said yourself, there’s more to you than just being labelled as “sexy”…

  • Tolu January 19, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    With Banky W (who’s shown great character as per harnessing skills) and a platform like EME, I believe Niyola will do well. There’s no rush to it.
    She’s very experienced as she’s been there long enough to understand the industry.
    I wish her the very best.

  • Kemi January 19, 2013 at 4:17 pm

    It’s a breath of fresh air to see a Naija girl that isn’t ‘artificially’ light skinned. Chocolate sistas all the way!

  • chomzyK January 19, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    Come on guyz she can sing……..

  • NAtalkamoh January 19, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    She’s beautiful and I absolutely love the song/ video.

  • Sparkle January 19, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    That hair is a big mess!!

    • word January 20, 2013 at 2:58 am

      lmaaaaooo yelzz it is *in Jennifer’s voice*

  • Winny January 19, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    So you come from a very large family of 13 and you lost a sister and now you are 2 ehmm i don’t quite understand how 13-1= 2.

  • Lateh L January 19, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    being able to sing does not mean she will blow … nowadays you need more than singing talent… u need to have that Xfactor … something she doesn’t hav… she is a waste mane .. lol

    • handsignals January 19, 2013 at 9:25 pm

      WOW!I wonder how you’d feel if someone called you a waste.

    • Busola January 21, 2013 at 1:46 am

      I can see most Nigerians are purely disrespectful or hateful . If you can’t find any good thing to say, please keep quiet.. Words hurt and can kill. These people are not robots, they are humans like you and I. Your extreme judgmental comment is disgusting.

  • Mimi January 19, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    Who told this girl she is sexy? Na assumption dey worry her.

  • R January 19, 2013 at 7:29 pm

    *agree to disagree*
    Beautiful lady, I wish her the best!

  • Sara Adebayo January 19, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    Nice Song ! Nice video and I like her, wow! she is hot..Good luck and keep up the good work.

  • GISTYINKA January 19, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    you great dear..

  • steve January 19, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    dark pretty skin,, well done,,

  • steve January 19, 2013 at 9:52 pm
  • Ibrahim Musa January 19, 2013 at 10:49 pm

    And secon bella naija you are disappointing me this yearoo, i thought special spotlight interviews are meant for accomplished people in their industries, this girl has not had a number one hit, let alone done anything worth praising yet. Unless this is a new thing yall decided to do -giving interview to upcoming artist, then say that. I would rather yall track down real legends of music down that are still alive, such as sunny ade, onyeka owenu, chris okotie, even segun arinze. Please bella naija dont put mediocre where greatness should stand.

  • Nok10 January 19, 2013 at 11:12 pm

    Looking good and good luck:)

  • linabella January 20, 2013 at 2:54 am

    i have to admit that gbenro is fawn, and so is lynxx, but is it me or does gbenro look like a grown up version of Zeal from stylplus ( jesus i had mad crush on zeal) Btw bella naija you should do a series on catching up with the artists that helped naija music get where it is today. From tuface to stylplus. Btw-When will styl plus come back. Zeal, shiffi… Oh niyola good luck on your hustle, but bella naija i think this your interview with her came too fast, yall should have let her season a little, and have a clear body of work we can look at. Banky w, i know eme is trying to make her a “sexy” star, but the fact is her fans make that decisions. Her image should not be selling sex, because in our culture its not accepted. She should take a look at other women who are in the game, like tiwa , even her age mate chidinma, be like the girl next door, am not saying be them, but dont be the typical wanna be “too sexy for my short type.” her fan base is gonna be mostly women, and you (eme), need to package her to look right in their eyes. In any case na you guys sabi. I hope her career gets atleast 10% of the type success wizkid is having.

    • coffee + sugar January 20, 2013 at 9:26 pm

      styl plus wud b back nxt yr…this tyme na “5 yrs don run pass”

  • faith January 20, 2013 at 4:04 am

    Didn’t enjoy d interView…

  • joinus January 20, 2013 at 5:09 am

    Why do women in entertainment have to be so sexualized? I don’t understand, esp with new Naij music. All I see is bras, skin and bling…no outstanding talent, sorry. I think she’s really confident and has a fun personality, but why is she so emphatic on being sexy…? Is that where talent is these days?

  • iamfascinating January 20, 2013 at 7:52 am

    I wish her well in her pursuits,

  • kmh January 20, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    I see nothing wrong in trying to be sexy,except some few video,were ladies got shake their fat bum bum(esp flavour video),I’m always reeling with shame,whenever the song pop up in presence of my sibling..jeez,I always cover face”in shame…I wish her luck,though I have never heard her song.

  • femmelounge January 20, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    nice interview. i wish her all the best, she’s got a great voice and attitude

  • may January 20, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    I remember Niyola from Uni (university of Lagos) I think she’s a sweetie. A good person at heart, and truly talented albeit understated. I do wish her the best . God bless ur hustle ‘mama…

    • The Kinkster January 21, 2013 at 10:41 am

      Yup! i can’t put my finger on it either

  • ilovemusic January 21, 2013 at 11:54 pm

    well. .. she ait, but i really anticipate SLK’s come back, she’s had mad hits in the past, SLK girl, i love u loads “oju ife lo”

  • daniel January 21, 2013 at 11:59 pm

    yup slk is goooood, love the chic

  • david January 22, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    Brilliant answers,Intelligent lady.Profile upgraded.keep it up!

  • Toyin January 22, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    Niyola is a pretty girl, has a nice voice and beautiful body. However, she needs a change of hairstyle, and fashion style. All these new female artists all look like “Beyonce wannabes”, which is already an epic fail. There’s nothing unique about some “dry frizzy big, long weave”, trying hard to be sexy, when most girls nowadays fall into that category.
    I love naija jams, but it’s becoming tiring bcos they all sound the same with the same message. Time for something new. For now, I will stick to Asa, Nneka and Tiwa.

  • Folu R. January 23, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    I think Niyola’s voice is cool. I practically listen to track 10 (Don’t delay me) of her song on my car stereo repeatedly everytime I’m behind the wheels. Yet to get tired of it though. I’m looking for her CD if she’s done any as I would buy ASAP. Way to go gir. ‘All my ladies to the dance floor…..’ Can’t wait to get in the car to play the music again. Wish you the best Niyola!

  • Imba January 30, 2013 at 9:38 pm

    What is this rubbish…..hahahahahahaha babe should chill. You have to wait for other people to call you sexy first. You try small sha

  • yinyinola February 7, 2014 at 12:58 am

    there is no zeal in d voice unlike toh bad

  • JT March 5, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    Why force sexy on yourself??? It aint making you dollars so see no point. And the hell with someone saying you’re not niaja making you feel cool?!?! This babe…. smh go back to the drawing board!

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