In Conversation With Multitalented Visual Storyteller, Daniel Obasi
Nigeria's burgeoning creative scene is brimming with lots of diverse talents who have different things to offer, from music to fashion. In a time when there are more eyes looking in than ever before, it's impossible to ignore the work of Daniel Obasi, a talented, multifaceted visual storyteller.
Daniel Obasi's work is very important in the creative scene, as he thoughtfully touches on social issues while still being interesting. His work cuts across several facets of the entire creative scene, working in film, fashion and music.
With his short films, such as Udara and An Alien In Town, he manages the high-wire act of being edgy without seeming forced or gimmicky, and his stunning photographs immediately grasp the attention of viewers.
More recently, he's taken his work into the music realm, where he styled the video for Major Lazer's "All My Life", and also the cover of Odunsi [The Engine]'s debut album, rare. So, we decided to get acquainted with the talented creative, and get more familiar with his work.
Konbini: You're very multifaceted, and also good at all the things you do. How do you manage that?
Daniel Obasi: Well, thank you! I think it all comes really naturally for me. I try not to overthink the number of things I am involved in. I am also very restless; I have to always do something creative. I have been generously blessed this year, particularly to work across a large spectrum than previous years.
What inspires your short films?
I believe the inspirations for any of my work is built around the experiences that make up that project. They are all very individualistic. I don’t really believe in constantly following a work pattern; I think it's because I see them as an avenue to pour out my emotions, emotions that I would never be able to express physically.
Nigerian society tends to group all creatives as one, how do you set yourself apart?
I would say my journey sets me apart. The fact that, at every point, it might seem to certain people that I have arrived only for me to pack up my bags and keep moving again.
I have a curious mind and having spent barely three years as an artist, I don't think I am ready to be boxed within any circle that the society wishes to draw out for me.
I don’t think anyone should either. Titles and labels only act as a defining factor, so you spend most of your life trying to prove why you are this or that – in my case, I rather fly.
What would you say is your specific role in the Nigerian industry?
The observer… *laughs*, but seriously, I considered myself an underdog for a while; but not anymore, and honestly still not interested in filling out any roles within any industry. I am an artist who happens to be a Nigerian, that's probably the only role I want to play.
How did you feel about our work being introduced to a bigger audience through Major Lazer's Video?
It was really great and beautiful how that project came about. I had just finished filming my short film, 'Udara', and had just got back into Lagos. I was watching the last music video they did in South Africa and I was gagging over the energy, especially from the dancers, and has luck will have it, they contacted me that same evening to see if I was available to work on it.
As for the audience that came with it, usually, when you work on music videos the last thing actually try to research on is the fashion, especially if it's not on the main or lead singer. But it wasn’t the same with this project. I got messages literally about how great and original the styling was.
I tried to use as many Nigerian brands as I could, and local fabrics like adire, aso oke, akwate as a way to introduce people again to what is “Nigerian fashion”, and yes, you can look super cool wearing a Nigerian designer in a music video.
The album cover for Odunsi (The Engine)'s rare. completely encompasses the vibe of the music. How did you manage to arrive at that?
For the longest time, Odunsi and I have spoken about working together, but it just never happened. This time, he tracked me down really early on, played me the music and I was instantly sold.
It wasn’t really hard to arrive at the cover images after discussing with him, as the vibe was already there. I mean, I have always painted Odunsi as a celestial prince – the funk and rhythm was unique. It's also his debut album, so I thought he deserved something iconic, and I'm extremely glad it all came together beautifully.
By Damilola Animashaun, published on 17/10/2018