Florence Ifeoluwa Otedola, daughter of billionaire oil magnate, Femi Otedola seems to be in a world of her own. At 21, with passion for blaring out all shades of music, particularly House music, the young disc jockey with the moniker DJ Cuppy, wants to make her mark in her chosen field. The graduate of Business Management from King’s College in London, in a chat with SAMUEL ABULUDE bares her mind on her dreams and why she is passionate about music and disc jockeying.
How was growing up like?
I will say that growing up was actually colourful. I used to be a very playful naughty child that asked questions. I am always intrigued by things. There was a time I turned my living room into a studio. I was always very playful. I grew up here in G.R.A, Ikeja, Lagos.
How did you come about the name Cuppy’?
My stage name is DJ Cuppy and it comes from the word ‘cupcake’. When I was 15, I was obsessed with cupcakes. I was trying to choose a stage name at 15 and I chose DJ Cupcake. Then I asked myself, would I like to be called Cupcake when I’m in my 20s’? That was how I choose the name Cuppy and it stuck.
I have always loved music, even as a child; and I’m also very passionate about young people. I also have the belief that knowledge is power. That should not also deny you the opportunity to chase your dreams because, that is where you will find full satisfaction. I feel greatly honoured when young people approach me to say that they like what I am doing. I am also establishing a publishing and management company. DJ Cuppy is really the baby of the company. I have a 10-year plan of toughening many people, not just young people, but a lot of people.
You were the official DJ for the MAMAs this year, care to share that experience?
It is actually very interesting because they approached me and said, “We love what you are doing, especially with House music.” Talking about different sounds in Africa, House music is very big in South Africa. It was a great gig. I have done DJ work in different countries, including Mexico, which was very fantastic. My job keeps me on my toes and I get to see different things. I am always up for a challenge.
Are you working on an album?
Yes. I already have some tracks on the album. I titled one ‘I Love My People’. It talks about the good stuff in Nigeria. I tried as much as possible to convey our cultural setting in the song. I released that and other songs July 2013. They are new versions of old songs. I am very passionate about my country. I have lived half of my life in Nigeria and the rest in UK, so in my songs, I reflected the Nigerian culture. It is something I am very passionate about. I also make sure that whenever I am in UK or any part of the world working, I take Nigerian songs with me. I love Nigerian music and I am proud to play Nigerian music anywhere. I also play House music which I think makes me unique.
Do people take you serious in the business, considering your gender?
I understand what you are saying. People give me shows; but there are times when I get to a show, maybe with my manager and they would think my manager was the DJ and me as someone who accompanies the DJ to the show. People do not expect a young lady to choose to be a DJ.
Hip hop is more prevalent in Nigeria than House music, how do you intend to stay relevant?
I think it is something that has to do with process. Everything is with time. Nigerian music now is not the same way it is used to be back in the day. Music is what people use to socialise and there is a new wave of sound going around. I don’t know how many songs we listen to here, but there is a big market for songs like Khona by Mafikizolo. Having a song with a sound like that gaining massive attention in Nigeria shows that people are ready for new sounds in the country.
How supportive are your billionaire parents in your choice of career?
I will say that I am very lucky because I have the most supportive parents in the world. I think generally what stops a lot of young people from following their passions, is when they do not have any support. I have got the most supportive team in the world. My parents push me to be the best version of myself. I think it is all about being the best version of myself and not trying to be someone else. I think I am very lucky to have the kind of parents that push and challenge me to be the best I can be.
How do you react to insinuations that your success so far is because of your background?
A lot of times people get distracted by background information. I am where I am, following my dreams and doing very exciting projects. Yes, maybe it is perhaps shadowed by my personal or family life and it is quite difficult. The way I view it, I think time tells it all; eventually, talent and passion speak for themselves. People have actually walked up to me and asked, “Are you really a DJ?” I laugh over things like that. I would not say it is a big disappointment. I am a very honest person, I can only hope that people start identifying me with what I do and have passion for. If you are good at what you do, you will not have any reason to fear. I am glad that I am here doing what I love.
What was your Mum’s impression when you told her about your DJ career?
My mother has actually been my everything! She has been so supportive of my career. She is such a strong woman- I will be happy if I can be half of what she is. All I know is that, it is always good to do what you love. When you do what you love, you are likely to do well; you are unlikely to fail. If I have another option, I think I can still see myself doing what I love. I love to do business and that is why I am combining music and business together. I have always had this entrepreneurial spirit. I know I will run my own business one day. That, I’ll say, I got from my dad.
At MAMA how did you manage to sift through the huge number of music resources available?
I always say this: it is a job and you are there to satisfy your client. For me, if the dance hall is bare, it means that I am not doing my job. It is a matter of research. Before I went for that MTV award show, for like a week I was busy researching South African music. I was compiling music as well. It is my job, it is what I want to do so. I make sure I am prepared for any gig. There are times that I would be asked to play a song that I don’t have and on the sport I download the song. Also for me, I’m very hard on myself. I make sure I am very well prepared. My mother always tells me, if you fail to plan you plan to fail.