Fireboy DML has started an inferno and is blazing a trail on a global scale.
Hailing from Lagos, Nigeria, the rising star is riding quite the wave thanks to his flavoursome take on Afrobeats.
Having amassed over 160 million streams thanks to hits such as ‘Jealous’ and ‘Stutter,’ the 24-year-old is powering forward with latest release ‘New York City Girl.’
That Grape Juice caught up with Fireboy, who opened up about the single, his forthcoming album, the world’s embrace of Afrobeats, the importance of mental health discourse, and much more.
Check out our exclusive interview below…
That Grape Juice: You’ve been making all the right waves with smashes such as ‘Jealous’ and ‘Scatter.’ But for those who are new to Fireboy DML, tell us a little about your journey.
Fireboy DML: I started like every normal Nigerian artist on the underground, in the streets of Lagos, hustling and recording and working on my sound. Unlike most of my peers, I was spending more time in the studio working rather than just going out begging for gigs and looking for help, begging for favors. That really helped in making me marketable and my sound attracted the right people. That’s how Olamide discovered me and signed me up. It’s been (the best) madness ever since.
That Grape Juice: We’re loving your new single ‘New York City Girl.’ Tell us a little about the story behind the track?
Fireboy DML: It’s a mid-tempo, feel-good jam. It’s just basically about someone I met and I wished I had spent more time with before I couldn’t be with them anymore. It’s a song that really speaks to a lot of people during this period, this corona pandemic period where we have people that we wish we could spend time with, but they’re not with us. It’s just a song that’s perfect for the season right now.
That Grape Juice: Who are some of your influences and how would you describe Fireboy’s sound?
Fireboy DML: I always say I have three major influences that cored in the foundation of my sound. Jon Bellion, Passenger and Wande Coal.
Wande Coal is someone I grew up looking to, he inspires me, he still inspires me to this day. I really love him for his vocals and the soul in his vocals. And as for Jon Bellion and Passenger, it’s the honesty in their lyrics that really inspired me and speaks to me and really shaped me into the songwriter I am today. And to help me to blend impeccable song writing with Afrobeats. I think that’s what makes my sound really unique.
That Grape Juice: Can your fans expect a new body of work any time soon? An album project?
Fireboy DML: Yeah, I’ve been working on that. This whole lockdown period I’ve been using it to finish up my second album which should be dropping sooner than most people think. It’s almost ready, if not ready. It’s going to be entirely different from my debut album. That’s all I can say about that. My debut album was like an introduction to my sound, this one is more like an introduction into who I am as a person, as a musician, as a superstar, celebrity. It’s deeper than LTG (‘Laughter, Tears and Goosebumps’).
That Grape Juice: We’re in a time where Afrobeats acts such as you, Davido, Tiwa Savage, Wizkid and more. And the world is really listening. Why do you think Aafrobeats is being received so well globally now?
Fireboy DML: I think we owe it to the hard work of our “Daddies and Mummies” in the industry, as I like to call them. Wizkid, Davido, Olamide, Burna Boy, Tiwa Savage. They’ve done a lot for the culture, for the joy of music that we know about afrobeat today. I feel like this new generation of artists, myself and my peers, it’s up to us to just continue from there and make Afrobeats a fully recognized genre of music, not just categorized under the tag, “World” as it’s known in the world today. Afrobeats is really getting a lot of attention worldwide and we all owe it to the hard work of our legends in the industry. But I feel like we still have a lot of work to do, and that’s up to myself and my peers. They’re going to make sure we get it there.
That Grape Juice: Best and worst advice you’ve received on your journey?
Fireboy DML: The best advice I would say has been, “When things are going really well, keep your head down and focus on your work”, “when things are going bad, just keep your head up and keep walking still”. There’s always more to be done and sanity is key, maintaining that mental health is very key in this world of fame and power, money, it’s very important to just keep your sanity and maintain balance, family and life and everything.
I think some of the worst advice, the one I recall, is someone advising me to make sure that I am good at kissing ass. “It’s very essential to know how to kiss ass if you want to stay long in the industry”, I instantly knew that was terrible advice, I never do that. That’s the only one I recall because I really don’t keep my mind too much on stuff like that.
That Grape Juice: Who are some of your dream collaborations?
Fireboy DML: There are so many creative people out there, everybody’s doing great and it will be really somehow for me to mention names. But I would really love to work with Steve Brown, Jon Bellion is an amazing songwriter, he speaks to me, it would be a dream to work with him. Passenger, I love him. Wizkid, a lot of people, Burna Boy, so many in the industry. And I’m looking forward to working with my peers too, my fellow brothers and sisters in the industry that we just came up together, Rema, JoeBoy, Oxlade is my friend, we worked together before, so many people like that. I’m looking forward to work with a lot of people. And I feel like in time, because right now everybody is working on their brand and their sound, especially these new-generation people. So in due time when it’s the right time, we’ll work together and do a lot of stuff. Looking forward to that.
That Grape Juice: You speak openly and candidly about mental health. A topic that tends to be taboo in the Black and Male communities. Tell us a little about why you feel it so important? feedback you’ve had?
Fireboy DML: I try as much as possible to express myself when I can about issues like mental health. It’s something that my core fans really know that already about me, because I always directly and indirectly suggest that I just prefer to be alone, spend more time alone, enjoy the quiet and silence.
It’s a topic that I speak about most times on social media or when I’m in interviews or I’m relating to fans. There was a time I released my phone number on social media and told my fans to call me. I think I used that opportunity to check-up on a lot of people, ask how their mental health issues are, if they are okay, stuff like that. I feel that is very important, especially now more than ever when everything seems to be crazy out there. It really means a lot to me and it’s something that I also love to think about and write about. I feel like my second album, it’s one of the few topics I really touched in a few of the songs that I wrote.
That Grape Juice: Amazing and so necessary.
As the year progresses, what can fans look forward to as the industry – and life at large – returns to normal?
Fireboy DML: More singles. I’ve fed my fans for six months now thanks to LTG, my debut album. I just figured I needed more time to work on the next project and thank God, I’m done with that now. So yes, more music, more projects should be this year. I was supposed to have a tour for my debut album and now it’s just going to be double, double, double. We’re going full-on, full tour, scatter everywhere worldwide. The European tour, the African tour, this year, next year by the grace of God. So there’s a lot of things to look forward to, but most especially performances, I can’t wait to see the fans out there again, just have fun, I need the energy, I need the vibe, I need the atmosphere, I just need to see the outside world and everybody happy, that’s one thing I’m looking forward to.
Collaborations of course, I think I’ve spent a long time without collaborating just working on my sound and my brand. So collaborations are coming up. Also, brand collaborations too, that’s something that we’re working on. So a lot of things. God willing, I just pray all this is over soon so that we can get to it.
‘New York City Girl’ Is Out Now