LAX Interview: Evolution – DJBooth
A hit song with Wizkid is enough to signal a newcomer to Nigerian music, and while many have dreamed of it, RELEASED showed up with two. “Caro“Came first in 2013, followed by” Ginger “the following year. The two fast polyrhythms, released under Wizkid’s Starboy label, are indicative of the strictly defined form a Nigerian hit song could take at the time.
Shortly after its breakthrough in the music industry, LAX found itself at a crossroads; either continue with the current musical wave, or create your own. He chooses the latter, experimenting a few singles per year and a first album TO SHAVE in 2018, continually iterating in search of his sound.
“I still think everything is a process,” LAX told Audiomack. “There was a time when I didn’t lose so much music because I recorded more. I was trying to figure out what kind of style I wanted people to identify with me after I transitioned from Starboy.
LAX sound came to fruition in November 2020 with the release of their second album ZaZa Vibes. “Sempé”Is a remarkably smooth piece with melodic guitar riffs capable of appealing to a wide range of palettes. It’s a song in which he goes against the grain, and emerges with evergreen music. It’s that kind of creative freedom that LAX has dreamed of for so long.
“Now I don’t run after hit songs anymore. I’m comfortable releasing songs that are for the soul, or songs that people will listen to 10 years from now and be like, ‘This is sick,’ ”says LAX. “Songs that people will sample in 20-30 years. This is the sound I want people to know.
From compulsively searching for hit songs to creating the genre of music that comes naturally to it, LAX is now more concerned with the beauty of the process and creating a legacy that will stand the test of time. just let people know I was all about the music.
Thinking back to your grand entrance on the Nigerian scene with “Ginger”, you seem like a very different artist now. Is it the result of an experiment?
I still think everything is a process. There was a time when I didn’t lose so much music because I recorded more. I was trying to figure out what kind of style I wanted people to identify with me after I transitioned from Starboy. Nigerians are quite difficult to please, so I spent time rephrasing and figuring out what I want to stand for.
Thank God people are listening now, and it’s not even just Nigeria, it’s all over the world. People are listening from France, Holland, all over the world, so I’m glad I sat down to rethink my strategy, and I came back and started lowering again.
You had a period personified by the name “Rasaki”, which evolved into “Zaza”. Can you tell us a bit about these personas and the evolution that drives them?
I often say that I have alter egos, like three personalities. So Rasaki for me was when I said I was angry; I just wanted to do my thing, put on some music.
Then that moved on to Zaza, who is now comfortable, has found his sound, he’s a loverboy, he’s cool, and he just wants to drop some soft music.
This is what I have always wanted to do from the start. I’m all for the music.
The evolution of LAX
After two hits with Wizkid, LAX has finally found its sound. He breaks down his process for Audiomack World.
So Zaza is this nice boy, this real music guy, and that’s what I’m chasing because that’s what I want to stand up for.
You’ve been on the run since you fell ZaZa Vibes at the end of last year. What do you think about the reception of the music you play?
I feel like I’m not even comfortable yet. I always feel like I need to do more. I have to work more. I need to have more fans all over the world. I need to get more people to listen to my music. Because Afrobeats is where we’re supposed to tap into ginger, see what Wizkid & likes tastes like Burna [Boy] do, and even newer artists like Joeboy, Fire boy [DML], and Rema, they are already doing things big.
So for me, I feel like I have to do more to be able to be a part of this situation. I’m glad people are listening to my songs in more places, but I still need to do more.
Do you think there is something about the popular sound changing or that people are more open to different kinds of music now?
Yes, this is something that I had a conversation with my brother about a few days ago, about how Nigerian artists can now release whatever they want and listeners will love it for what it is. . No one even knows what a hit song is anymore, as long as it is gentle on the ears. And that’s a nod to the crown, because before COVID, we lived fast-paced lives – your song had to be at 120 BPM, or even higher.
Everyone was calm at home because of the lockdown, and it helped people like Omah lay when they came up with soft music. So to be honest, it really helped me to be intentional about my sound.
How would you describe your creative process?
I don’t like re-recording. The first thing I record is how I leave it, because it comes from my soul. I have the impression that energy is very important. There are songs that when you listen to it you feel like you are in the studio with that person because of the energy of the voice, the way the voice sounds so genuine, so real.
First of all, I listen to the rhythm. I’m very picky about the beat, so the beat is the first thing I make sure it sounds right. My voice comes next. I’m just about the vibe; It doesn’t have to be crazy talk or something very deep, but it just has to be something joyful. If you check out my Instagram I’m always happy, dancing, smiling… so I just want people to feel that happy vibe.
Even my songs that are about heartbreak, or that would normally make someone sad, I always make sure that the instrumental gives you a vibe. Like “To go crazy”Is a song about how a girl left me, but I still made sure the instrumental was soft enough for people to dance in. So even if you sing the heartbreaking song, you still dance to it.
When you think of your artistic heritage, how would you like people to remember the name LAX?
I just want people to know that I was all about the music. I have the impression that it is like that now; you’ll never hear a LAX scandal, I’m just trying to talk about music.
And if it’s not the music, maybe the philanthropic side of me, helping people. I’m trying to unravel the Zaza Foundation. So music and helping people, because I feel like that’s life. Once you can help people, you always feel better about yourself knowing what you’ve been up to and that they’re in a better place because of it. This is where I get the fulfillment.
By Nasir Ahmed Achile for Audiomack.