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Ghanaian Artists Donít Put Out Good Songs - Zapp Mallet   
 
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23-Aug-2012  
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Zapp Mallet
 
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Veteran music producer Zapp Mallet with his undeniable pedigree when it comes to Ghanaís music scene talks about music as he understands it, how to cross-over as a musician and how reality show talents under-perform after all the hype they get singing renditions.

Whatís music?

Music is life, it is power, and itís everything to Zapp Mallet. Itís a means of expressing how you feel, and also a way to address certain situations.

Considering the music you are hearing now, is the quality of our music growing or declining?

Musical trends change and that depends on time. But in terms of musician-ship, talk about the art in itself and the level of appreciation of music; that does not change. Good music is, will and always be good music irrespective of the time it was made available for listening. I think in this day everything is said to be instant, and technology has made it possible for music to also be produced in a very short time. This get-everything-instant era has made it possible for artist to walk into studios and do shabby works and go propagating it. The knack for talent and creativity is there but the art side of doing the music is not there as at now.

Artists are complaining of unit sales going down because of technology, what do you say to that?

Now technology has made things difficult for artist to benefit from selling records and fortunately for the listeners they are able to go choose only songs they can relate to online whenever an album drops. Itís now the artists that are not learning and this is causing them a lot of money. They donít put out good songs and the few good ones they are able to produce too, they donít have proper plan in place to promote and sell it to make some money. These days, you buy the whole album and you get one or two good songs on it and no sane consumer would like to do that. If you put a lot into making a great album and make timeless songs, most people would be proud to go out and grab it.

Every artist is now talking about crossing over to the west with their music, but research shows artists who do indigenous African music enjoys attention out there mostly, are we stepping through the door with the wrong foot?

Itís an identity crisis. We had the funk era, disco era, jazz era, and now hip hop; all those happenings in the western world influenced our art one way or the other because we were and still exposed to it. Music is all about fusion and the amount of borrowing we do here most often than not over shadows our own indigenous or traditional sounds which leave us losing touch with our own identity. And it doesnít look authentic and feel Ghanaian at the end of the day.

When the foreigners hear the songs its feels like something theyíve heard before. And remember these people have heard Lil Wayne, Jay Z, Beyonce and the Rihannaís over and over again, so anything that sounds similar is not going to feel new. They then donít buy into it at the end and you the local artist end up losing. They want to see something authentic and African so that it can cross over into their domain. Osibisa, Hewale Sounds and King Ayisoba all have a heavy dose of their authentic African sounds in their music, thatís why the western world want the fresh sound they bring to the platforms.

You are on Stars of the Future panel most often; do you think reality shows really produce talents that are in touch with the real music scene?

Itís not the talent shows that are under performing, itís the talents involved that should be blamed. Some people for instance go into marriage, and it doesnít work and they come out of it in no time, that doesnít mean the institution of marriage is not good, because some people can be in it for decades and still will be doing fine. Itís either the organizers donít care about the talentís progress once they are done organizing the event and a winner is declared or the contestants are not that up to par to survive in the industry after the buzz.

The reality show doesnít give you so much singing formula that clamps you in creating songs that will fly in the real world as many believe; sometimes even executive producers come to an artist and give them guides on how to sound on the album they want to produce. So you the artist have to decide if you are willing to bend their sound to get the support the person is offering them.

What's your take on artists causing uproars when they are leaving their management labels?

Since we are dealing with humans, things of that nature will surface sometimes from nowhere when everything seems to be on cruise control. When artist wants to move out of a label, I donít see anything wrong with that but I think it should be done the right way. If you leave respectfully and responsibly, you are able to come in for help when the need arises. Whatís the need in creating uproar when you are leaving? Yes, you can use the situation to get the attention of the media for a while, and the media would cash in on that too and after you will be dealing with a burnt bridge. I donít think anyone will like to be in that space.

Is there money in Ghanaís showbiz?

One thing about showbiz that excites more people in there is the show side which is so glamorous and appealing. Take the Ghana Music Awards as an example, every year there are controversies here and there but every year the venue is packed. The glitz, the glamour, the pomp and pageantry is good enough for many in the circle. What I know is the glitz and the glamour is drawing many people to be into the industry. Yes, there are those who desire to make the cash but the glitz and glamour is what is keeping the greater percentage in the game.

Who is Zapp Malletís kind of artist?

I always like an artist who allows me to give them my creative best. There are artist who come in and want to dictate every sound they hear on their song. Such artist unconsciously becomes creative impediments on your creative flow and I donít like to meddle with such artist. Plus the fact that you are a musician doesnít make you very savvy about the technical aspect of creating the music. So you should trust my judgment and experience about creating the music. Suggest stuff on how to make a good song at the end of the day but not insist on one thing and one thing only.
 
 
Source: Abdullai Isshak
 
 

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