Kettle Zeal… Music Is His Calling
THOUGH an upcoming artiste, Henry Smith, who popularly by his moniker, Kettle Zeal, could simply be described as one Nigerian artiste with a different flavour. He is in love with African beats, just as he is attracted to other genres of music. He describes himself as unconventional and revolutionist with his brand of music, which he calls Ethnic, a genre he is pioneering, different from what obtains in the industry today and the normal day-to-day kind of songs that dominate the airwaves.
He made his debut into the music industry with the single I No Be Lady in 2009, and ever since, it has been steady rise to greatness for the singer who carving a niche for himself as one of the best artistes in Nigeria and beyond. With five singles to his credit, including I No Be Lady, International Criminal, Intellectual, Shalewa, Ashawo, and work ongoing on his debut album; Kettle Zeal prefers touching people’s lives, singing about their social life and the environment, rather than the usual songs that promote and celebrate lewdness.
For him the part one chooses in life might not be the part that he or she would end up. According to him, music is the part he is meant to go and he is putting all he has into it. He didn’t like the usual way songs were rendered, so, he decided to change the style and create his own.
He said, “As a person, I like doing everything differently and that is how I have been all my life. While growing I saw people wear gold chain, and I’m like why should I wear it since everybody is wearing it. I have always like making statement with whatever I do. As an artiste, when I discovered that music was a talent in me and it avails me lots of opportunities, I choose to create something different and its originality would be mine. I had the opportunity to write songs with R‘n’B, Rock, Jazz and other lavour, but I realise that is not what I want to do; I wanted something different, something that the mature minds would listen to and be inspired.”
“All genres of music, from Highlife to Jazz, R‘n’B, Reggae, Pop, Hip-Pop and Afrobeat, which was pioneered by the Abami Eda himself, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, was started at a particular point in time by someone and with time they gained universal acceptance. Without sounding offensive to anyone in the music industry, the kind of songs we listen to these days are nothing but trash and without inspiration,” he added.
On what makes Ethnic a unique genre of music and different, Kettle Zeal said, “Everything, from the lyrics to the beat. I may go to 20 studios and end up not working with any of them. I have been opportune to work with some of the music industry’s big names in terms of production; people like Chief on the Beat and Dre Beats among others, and these are men that knows their onions when it comes to music production.
“Again, without sounding too pompous, I can’t walk with a producer who gives me the same beat I hear everyday and I can’t tell you as a producer this is what I want. Sometime it takes me about three weeks to record a particular song, because we have to check over and over to make sure we get it right.”
He continues: “I have interacted and still interact with a lot with people who have interest in Nigeria music, especially the mature minds, but they keep saying that most of the songs the youth considered as hit are not because there is nothing inspirational in them, rather, most of songs celebrate lewdness both in lyrics and visual expression, which are usually displayed in videos.
“In other to do something different and not join the band wagon, I decided to create my own brand of music, Ethnic by going back to good old days when music had influence in the society and shape peoples’ life both in lyrics and beats, to bring out some old tunes and blend it to suite today’s generation without leaving out the older people.
When I discovered the blend was good, I decided to look for a name to brand it, because anybody that hears the music asks what brand of music it is. Some people say it is afrobeat, but I often disagree with them because Fela does not sound the way I sound. They say beat is similar to Fela’s afrobeat, but I try making them know that Ethnic and Afrobeat are two different genre of music, though there may be some similarities.
On the choice of his stage name, the Lagos state native says, “It sounds funny sometimes when I tell people that my name is Kettle Zeal. One unique thing about the name is that one way or the other you will remember either of the names — Kettle or Zeal. The name Kettle is brand on its own.
“As you know, Kettle is a household utensil that we all use daily; it is strong and has the capability of withstanding the pressure of the fire and the boiling water. So, against all odds, I would say I’m strong and resilent; I’m still surviving. I discovered most artistes like fancy names, and because I don’t want to toe their line I decided to get something different and weird. I can assure you that if I go to 20 houses in Lagos and tell them my name is Kettle Zeal, it may sound funny at first but will stick with them because if they don’t remember Kettle, they will remember the Zeal. So long they remember the name I’m satisfied.
Asked what influence his choice of music as a career, Kettle Zeal said, “Over time, I discovered music is my calling; I have tried running away from it, but I discovered the more I try to run, the more I get involved in it. While growing up, I wanted to be a medical doctor, but music is me and I’m music. I’m ardent believer in the maxim, ‘man proposes but God dispose.’ Also, I discovered that the part you choose as an individual may not be the part you will go or end up. I have come to realise that music is the part I’m meant to go and I’m putting all I have into it now.
It a surprise to everybody even in his family that he is doing music full time. At a point his mother was like, young man you are wasting your time with this music. But in the last three years, all she wants to listen is her son’s music as it takes her back to olden days.
“When it comes to music my mum knows which song is classic. She once told me that my brand of music makes her think of the old school; you don’t need to tell me you are one artiste with a difference.”
Presently working on a new single, he hopes to drop his debut album later in the year as work is ongoing on it. For him, music is not just about releasing songs, what matters is making sure such song(s) count and makes impact in the society.
“A lot of that hears the songs often tell me they are too good to be place online for free downloading. It was as a result of this that we signed deal with the iTunes online management, and so far they have been getting massive download of the song we signed the deal on. God willing by the end of this more or mid-February, we hopefully the number of songs would be increased.
On why he yet to pen a deal with any of the records label, Kettle Zeal said, “I’m a firm believer of God’s time, and recently I crossed part with one of Naija’s, singer, songwriter and seasoned producer, Nomoreloss. After listening to my works, he was like are sure you did this. He is out of the country and he promised that as soon as he comes back into the country we sit have a round table discussion.”
He stated that his own label, Wonder Beat Music (WBM) has been in existence for sometime, but lack of finance has been responsible for it not being heard by people. “We are calling on well-meaning Nigerians, who are passionate about Nigerian music and change in the industry to partner with us as we are open to partnership and sponsorship.