The music industry in Nigeria is currently a booming space, constantly producing stars that shine even beyond the shores of Africa. However, like every other career, thriving in the industry entails passion, perseverance and hardwork, and these are the attributes that best describes the reggae singer and songwriter- Francis Ogufere, with the stage name Francis Bondd.
Known for his witty lyrics that explores the themes of love and life in general, Bondd’s commitment to his art, is one that would definitely earn him a crown among the stars of the Nigerian musical industry and beyond.
With this and more, we caught up with the crooner at his studio just after final rehearsals for his recent live show in Victoria Island, Lagos.
Afrobeats 360: Beyond music, tell us about Francis Bondd
Bondd: (Clears throat) Alright, I’m an electrical engineer. I do other businesses, I have guys that run Uber, I have a Record Label and I plan to have an oil company. (Laughs) Just big dreams, like, it can’t be only about music.
Afrobeats 360: What was growing up like?
Bondd: I grew up with my parents and siblings in Festac. No going out, so I can’t speak Yoruba, even though I grew up in Lagos. But it was interesting. I listened to a lot of reggae and Afrobeat – Majek Fashek, Bob Marley and Fela. My parents always provided for us. At some point, things went crazy for the country. There was food in the house and all that, but when I look around from upstairs (cause we were on the last floor), I felt Naija was hard for a lot of people. So, nothing has really changed.
Afrobeats 360: How long have you been into music?
Bondd: Like 10 years. I started counting from when I began to play the guitar. I used to write poems, then when I began to play the guitar, I started to compose songs. Although I sang in Church (in those days), but that wasn’t about the music, that was just like- ‘as a young boy, you must be in Church’, be in a department. Then there was this guy who used to play the guitar, (he’s in UK now), he taught me how to play the guitar, and this was how it started.
Afrobeats 360: What inspires your style of music?
Bondd: Women! I know you’ll be thinking I’m a bad boy now. (Laughs)
Afrobeats 360: Not really, although we are coming to that. For now tell us, how would you describe your music?
Bondd: My music has a lot of reggae influences. I don’t want to make it too complex, so I call it reggae or dancehall. So when its slow tempo – reggae, and when I want people to dance- dancehall.
Afrobeats 360: So, coming to the “bad boy” or “lover boy” angle: We see you are also called ‘King of Love’. How did that name come about?
Bondd: Well, because I’m a lover. Lover of everything ooo. Lover of God. Lover of Nigeria and all. (Laughs hard)
Afrobeats 360: Let’s glide a little through your musical journey thus far. In 2015, you released a single- ‘Story for the Girl’, with a video that came with so much humour and creativity. What inspired the song?
Bondd: The song was about my girlfriend who is Igbo. So basically, I always think about her and that was just the inspiration behind the song.
Afrobeats 360: Let’s move to 2016, the songs ‘Smile’ and ‘Calabar Girlfriend’ say a lot in their lyrical expression.
Bondd: ‘Smile’ was written for my daughter. The whole song was about family. There was a line – “there’s no reason to be scared, I’m here…” I was just singing like I was talking to her. For the song ‘Calabar Girlfriend’…
Afrobeats 360: (Cuts in) Did you really have a Calabar girlfriend?
Bondd: Funny enough, never. I’m still searching for one though. Maybe I’ll find soon. But ‘Calabar Girlfriend’ was just me imagining things and expressing myself artistically.
Afrobeats 360: In 2017, we saw your amazing mash up of Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape of You’, Wizkid/Drake ‘Come Closer’ and TLC’s ‘No Scrub’. It was beautiful. How often do you do cover songs?
Bondd: Quite a lot actually… especially during shows, because people don’t know my songs yet. So, I use it to just build fan base, freestyle and enjoy myself.
Afrobeats 360: What’s your favourite musical instrument?
Bondd: The guitar of course! (laughs) Because it’s spiritual. Like I don’t need medicine when I have a headache. I could just pally the guitar and play out the headache. I find strumming the guitar and the sound it makes so therapeutic.
Afrobeats 360: Let’s go a little poetic: If music is a rainbow and you have a choice of one color in that palette, what would that be and why?
Bondd: Yellow. Because yellow is close to the sun and I want to shine as bright!
Afrobeats 360: Super lovely! What projects are you currently working on?
Bondd: Basically now, I’m doing a lot of live shows to create awareness that Bondd is here. Then on the other side, I’m putting a couple of songs together for my next album.
Afrobeats 360: We look forward to that! If you had the opportunity, what top 5 artistes would you love to Collab with?
Bondd: I’ll like to work with Tekno, production wise. I’ll like to work with Pathoranking (reggae). Beyond Nigeria, I’ll lie to work with R.Kelly, but he’s in jail. (Smiles drly) I’ll like to work with Lauryn Hill, my darling. And (back to Nigeria) Teni!
Afrobeats 360: Stage fright and live performance anxiety is something many artistes have had to overcome. Have you ever felt any of these?
Bondd: Yeah, at the initial stage of my career. But I don’t feel anything these days. Before and during the show, I’m just excited and want to make people happy.
Afrobeats 360: What advice can you offer beginners in the music industry who are dealing with stage fright?
Bondd: Drink water. (Laughs) Next, look for someone with a face smiling at you in the crowd. Don’t go focus on someone with a face that says “get out”, that can be very discouraging.
Afrobeats 360: What does success mean to you?
Bondd: Success means influence. Like reaching as many people, yeah.
Bondd & Brymo
Afrobeats 360: Afrobeats is currently booming, with the likes of Wizkid, Davido and Burna Boy going global. What’s your take on Afrobeats generally?
Bondd: I love Afrobeats. The music has a great, happy vibe! I feel it’s in season and this is the time for Afrobeats, the same way reggae became a global genre. Let Afrobeats be on Grammy Awards. Let it be International, not just Africa. Shout out to everyone pushing it forward!!
Afrobeats 360: Awesome! Finally, in 60 seconds, tell us something we do not know about Francis Bondd.
Bondd: I like chocomilo. I like Ijebu garri and dried fish. (Laughs) I like gala.
Afrobeats 360: So you’re a proper local boy, representing!
Bondd: Arrrah!! Leave all this fresh boy face. All these things remind me of my childhood, so I can’t just let them go. (giggles)
Afrobeats 360: Thanks so much for the time.
Bondd: Thanks for having me!
We look forward to seeing Francis Bondd glow brighter like twinkling stars on dark nights.
Thrive on Bondd!