WORDS GRACEY MAE - PHOTOGRAPHY TSE STUDIO
The year is 2022 and the world is embracing Afrobeats with both arms. One rising star on the forefront of this Renaissance is Victony. With one of the most mesmerising voices to come out of Nigeria, this chart-topper has amassed a cult following that aren’t just obsessed with his distinct falsetto and unique cadence, but who also tap into his core belief of fighting against all odds. Days ahead of his first London headliner, the singer-songwriter and rapper sits down with F WORD Music Contributing Columnist, Gracey Mae with a message of living life according to your own terms, and brings us into his world.
Gracey Mae: Hi Victony, Welcome to F Word. How are you?
Victony: Fine, thank you.
GM: You’re known as the Outlaw King, what does that title mean to you?
V: Being the Outlaw King is basically telling people that you can be anything you want to be. In our society today, when you're yourself, people tend to label you an Outlaw. Being original doesn't really sell anymore. People who are themselves are often attacked, and it's just really hard to be oneself in today's world. What I’m saying as the Outlaw King is, you could be whatever you want to be. You can be a rapper today or you can try the singing thing tomorrow. You don’t have to explain it to anybody, you can just do whatever you want.
GM: Congratulations on your latest EP, ‘Outlaw’. Tell us about the project.
V: I started off rapping earlier on in my career. The Outlaw EP basically signifies the moment of change in my career, where I transition into a proper singer. I’ve released the Saturn EP, but that was my first attempt at trying out the whole singing thing. With this EP, I’m letting everyone know that I have mastered the craft.
GM: I was at the EP listening party in Lagos, Nigeria and everyone in the room absolutely loved the project. What would you say is your favourite track on the EP?
V: I really don't have a favourite because I made every song. With each one, I feel something really special. Everything really matters to me on the project so it’s really hard to pick a favourite.
GM: ‘Kolomental’ is the last track on the EP. You released it on the 1 year anniversary of a moment that changed your life. You and I were both at Oxlade’s birthday and later that night, the accident happened. How have the last 12 months been for you?
V: Everything changed. The accident happened and a lot of people came out for me; my fans took it online and really spread the word about my name and what happened. It was really a moment in my life and in my career, because that's when I knew that I was really building something. I've been able to gather people with my sound and just create a religion of outlaws.
GM: Talking about religion, ‘Holy Father’ by Mayorkun and you, is one of the biggest songs of 2021. You've also worked with Burna Boy on ‘Different Size’. Tell us how this track came together.
V: It was really an interesting experience. I met Burna at Buju’s gig and he said “we're gonna do a song”. I just took my mind off it because I didn't want to hope for too much but eventually it happened. I went over to his crib and he said “there's a particular song that you started working on that I really like”. I was surprised it was Different Size cause it was a freestyle. I heard the beat on Tik Tok and I thought, “Oh, I could do something with this” but I had no plans of releasing it. I made the freestyle and I put it out my Instagram. When Burna told me that it was the song, it was really surprising for me because I expected something more conscious. So that happened, he laid his verse and the same day, we did one more song. The next day we linked up and did a couple more songs.
GM: Will we be hearing or seeing these other songs any time soon?
V: Chop & Slide remix is going to be out later in the year… let’s see about the others…
GM: Wait – I’ve heard the remix! Can’t wait for the rest of the world to enjoy it too. The sample on that track is Squid Games, do you watch TV?
V: I don't watch TV that much but from time to time, I see movies just to clear my head or to get away from music for a while. Movies are my escape but as for TV or series, I don't get dedication for all that stuff because I don't know how to keep up, you know?
GM: Same here - I get frustrated when I fall behind. Let's talk about anime. When you dropped ‘Outlaw’, you created characters in a universe: Outlaw Ville. Do you draw?
V: So I don't draw, I'm not like an artist or something. I mean, I used to but I stopped. I just have ideas. Everything in my mind and my sound, creates this world where my fans exist. The only way I can bring it to life is to work with my graphic artists. That is the best way for me to express it… you know, physically show my fans what Outlaw Ville is and how it is in my mind. I want them to exist in it when they dive into my sound.
GM: I love that. One constant thing that I see with you is purple, is this your favourite colour?
V: Yeah, it is.
GM: Interesting - mine too. Now, you’ve said that the gospel of the Outlaw is being yourself. You've also said in previous interviews, that the last year has really shown you that you're an overcomer. Explain!
V: It just means steadily looking at the future, being positive about the future, making use of the now, not worrying about the past. What’s done is done, it's about always moving forward regardless of what life throws at you.
GM: This time next year, you'll be finishing your Engineering degree at the Federal University of Technology of Owerri. How are you balancing school and fame?
V: I've been really lucky - things just tend to work out for me. For instance, times where things are really heated up in school, I usually don't have to do musically and vice versa. I just manage the situation however I can. I be in school when I need to, I’m also in the studio when I need to be. I feel blessed because I barely have clashes. Like right now my school is on strike, my EP dropped, the Burna feature dropped, I’m about to leave the country, I've just rounded up my uni tour…. Yet, things just always tend to work out for me. For some reason. I don't know why. But yeah, I just feel blessed.
GM: I love that. It takes me to a lyric from your Colors performance: ‘Many Men’ where you say “Higher powers watch over my soul’. You are one of a handful of Nigerian artists that have been featured on this platform. What was that experience like for you?
V: It was really amazing to be one of the selected artists. It just made me feel like I’m finally becoming a household name. For Colors to come to Nigeria and say “we want Victony to be on stage”, I felt really honoured; especially at this level in my career. These guys do big stuff!
GM: I hear that and I love it. You just let slip that you're about to leave the country, what's happening?
V: I’m just trying to connect with my fans outside Nigeria. Tighten the bond, do a couple shows, see what I can do… Everything good. Everything nice.
GM: Is there anything else exciting happening before the year runs out?
V: Yeah man. The tour’s been taking my time. I've not like really had the chance to create content surrounding the project, like videos, merch, live shows or stuff like that. So that’s where I am mentally, I'm working on all that. Matter of fact, I’m shooting a video tomorrow, the second video of the project. I shot one already. I'm gonna put out more stuff, tighten the bond with my fans and really make outlaw a statements and a moment…
GM: Do you wanna tell us which videos or….
V: Well I'm shooting the video for ‘All Power’ tomorrow and I already shot the video for ‘Jolene’. I would have put out ‘Jolene’ earlier but ‘All Power’ started to become a madness online so that's where the attention is right now. I'm actually not releasing any other music this year. I feel like the EP is enough so I'm just trying to like do the most and prepare for next year…
GM: ‘All Power’ has been popping so it's good to hear that the video is coming. I saw you perform live about eight times last December but one of your biggest performances to date was your set at the O2. Take us back to that moment. Take us back to the stage. Take us back to singing in front of 20,000 people.
V: That's something I want to relieve. Every time I think about it, I'm just like, “wow”. It’s honestly very different from all the performances I've done. It was a moment in my career – Mayorkun introducing me and the fans going wild, the volume of the cheer was different this time around, the feedback was different, the echo was different. Everything was mind blowing. It just made me know that I had gotten to another level of my career. I wasn't performing at home - this is London,
GM: Can’t wait for you to be headlining more shows in the UK.
V: I actually have a show on 1 November in Colors, everyone is welcome!
GM: Do you have any final messages of encouragement for your friends, family and following?
V: To anyone out there, just be yourself. Just be the best you can be; that’s where you find true happiness, that’s where you also find where you find peace. The moment you are anything, the moment you're not comfortable in your own skin, you're gonna keep chasing other stuff. So do whatever makes you comfortable.
GM This is F Word magazine. What is your F word?
V: [laughs] My favourite airport is the F Word: Fuck