Mabel Oine Alubo, popularly known as Bella, is a Nigerian recording and performing artiste signed to Tinny Music Entertainment. Bella, who said her sound is best described as a fusion of hip-hop and afro pop, speaks with SEGUN ADEBAYO about her career and what her fans should expect from her.
You are signed to Tinny Music Entertainment, same record label as Ycee. How have you been coping with your music since you joined the team?
After making music for five years, the opportunity to pursue it as a career is one that I will always be grateful for. I was introduced to my boss, Tinny by Osagie Okunkpolor, the founder of The Zone Agency in December 2016, before I dropped my second EP ‘Lucid Dreaming’ .
One major difference since then in how I’ve coped and progressed as a signed artiste is having a new sense of direction and focus on how to make a living from something I’m very passionate about. With the blessings of God, the support of my team and the constant love from my family, I believe I’m on the right track.
It is common for most record labels to push the established and wave-making acts on their labels to the detriment of the up-and-coming ones. How has your label been treating your music career and are you comfortable with this dimension it is taking?
One of the best things Tinny Entertainment does when it comes to promoting artists is treating each of us as individual artistes and at the same time, as a collective under the label. No one is left behind as the team is focused on collective growth. My first single under the label featured Ycee and Dapo Tuburna’s ‘Nothing remix’ features Ycee and Olamide. Being the top act under the label, Ycee and the team have used that to our advantage and given us a bigger platform. My label is focused on me becoming one of the biggest artistes in Nigerian history.
Does joining this label come with any form of pressure and how do you intend to break into the mainstream?
I can’t say getting signed to a prominent label and moving all the way from Jos, where I was born and raised- hasn’t had any effect on me at all. Thankfully, my team advises me on the best ways to handle any pressure I might feel and we share ideas on how to move forward. I describe my sound as having elements of the genres I’m most influenced by Afro pop, Trap, r&b and Hip-Hop. I will believe Nigeria is paying attention to “new wave” artistes right now and with globalisation, I believe this fusion of urban and African sounds and lyrics gives me the edge I need to stay unique and yet sellable.
You grew up in Jos, Plateau State and had your university education there, what was it like growing up in that part of the country?
There’s a song called “Myself” on my last EP which has lyrics that go “as in, your Dad’s a professor, people have expectations; are you not scared, don’t you care for reputation”. That song basically gives an insight into the environment I was raised in. Jos is a very beautiful and quiet city with calm, honest people. I’m the last of four children. My Dad is a professor and my mum, a school proprietress. I grew up in a safe, learned home in a reserved town with great weather and a lot of creatives. People like M.I Abaga, Bez Idakula, 2baba, Ice Prince, Endia, Ruby Gyang, P-square and so many other greats who have their roots in Jos, are examples of how inspiring growing up there was.
The North is definitely quite different from Lagos and this zone but one thing that unites us is our dreams and hopes for the future I guess.
You studied Microbiology but ended up taking music as a career; what brought about the change of focus?
Education isn’t our only influence. There’s culture, background and other things. I’ve always been creative of some sort. I’ve done arts and crafts from creative writing to poetry, bead-making, wig making and even makeup haha. My Dad has always been a writer, and my mum is involved in a lot of crafts. I wouldn’t call it a “change of focus”, it’s more of a sense of direction towards something I’m more passionate about.
Does that mean delving into music fully has ended your interest in modeling or you could still juggle the two without a clash?
I like to be multidimensional and keep my mind open to possibilities you know. I’m here for all the forms of success I can juggle.
Tell me about the journey to Tinny Entertainment and what was that thing that convinced you to join?
As I mentioned earlier, I had been uploading music on SoundCloud and creating a little buzz online. My brother who used to be in PR had this great email list with top managers, blogs, label execs. I’d always email my new work to everyone on the entire list.
I used to follow and reach out to people involved in entertainment as well. I emailed my music to Osagie Okunkpolor, she shared with Tinny, they brought me over to Lagos for a screening session in December and in January 2017, I got signed and moved over.
The major thing that convinced me was interacting with the team, and also seeing the brand they had built with Ycee. I and the label share similar goals of both national and international success.
If you are to do a duet with one Nigerian artiste, who would it be and why?
I could never pick only one haha… but let’s go with Burna Boy. I really like his style, melodies and entire brand.