By now, many of you are probably tired of new acts. Who can blame you guys? Regardless, it’s a good day to talk about new things! I’m excited especially because of the new sounds that I want to share with you all today! I’m not going to hype this creative and begin to say he’s the best ever – which he has the potential to be – but I’m going to try to show you a new experience and hopefully lead you towards checking him out and making a decision for yourself. So, let’s meet Janas XS.
Hi Janas, thank you for speaking to me.
Hello Chima, thank you for having me.
Let’s get all the protocols out of the way first. Tell us about yourself.
I’m Janas XS. My real name is Ayowole Olofinjana. ‘Janas’ is from my surname, while ‘XS’ is just a fancy spelling of ‘excess’. I’m basically your beats guy – because people know me for this. But that’s not just what I do. Music, instruments, sound engineering, film scoring, songwriting, singing are also among the things I do professionally.
Only you? That’s a mad range of talents my guy.
I dey try. (laughs)
My guy na you try pass. But just like you said, people know you as the beats guy.
Yeah. Well, it actually started when my brother taught me how to play a recorder at a very young age. It helped me develop an interest in other instruments. I first moved on to piano, then to the saxophones in junior secondary school. I couldn’t afford one of my own, so I picked up the guitar in senior secondary. By the time I was wrapping up my senior secondary, I had so much exposure to music and it made me want to create my own [sound].
So, I took the house computer and started tinkering with some production software because I wanted to do music full time. My first successful beat and song was really wack, so I started studio hopping and attaching myself to producers around to improve myself. I became the beats guy, but I did it just because I wanted to produce my own stuff. I’m still learning though.
That’s impressive, truly. So, I guess we can say that beats are your mainstay?
Probably. But I’m not just your beats guy o. It’s important that you include this one. (laughs)
(Laughs) Sure I will. But which of them do you do better and which is more fulfilling for you?
I really don’t know. As a producer, I can produce a ballad and a ‘gbe body’ song in the space of one hour. I’m very versatile. As an artiste/songwriter, I’m also very versatile. So, I’ll just say that I’m very versatile and all of them are very fulfilling for me.
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Interesting. So, tell me: how would you describe your sound?
I have my own personal sound. I’m heavily influenced by soul, jazz, R&B, and dancehall music. And then afro, because I’m Nigerian.
That sounds heavy man! So how do you produce for your type of sound? In fact, what’s your general thought process like when producing?
It depends on my moods, really. Sometimes I make the beats and write to them. Sometimes I write and then produce. I rather produce first though, especially when I’m producing for people. Also, because I have the kind of exposure I have with music, many times I make the beat chord by chord with instruments first, before putting them together and then writing a song to go with them. Sometimes, I just wake up with beat combo inspirations, I legit thank God when this happens. When that happens, I put down the beat immediately.
That’s a good one. Can I hear some of your beats?
Sure thing. (Janas XS then proceeds to play me his debut single along with some other beats and songs he’s worked on. They remind me of beach scenes in movies and I just smile at the smoothness of his work).
Man, that was an experience. Wished you would release more of this man.
In due time, chief.
Looking forward to it. But first, tell me: why do you continue, knowing how hard it is to break into the industry? Why not just do something else?
I’m aware of the challenges. But I think the structure is the biggest challenge there. It’s a bit stifling so it’s hard for people like us to really break out. But there are also many avenues too. So, for me, it’s been a case of studying the industry. As for not doing something else, I’m already doing other stuff. I’m a sound guy as I’ve said before.
I’m a law graduate also, so there’s that too. But in truth, I don’t see breaking out as my goal. I’m just going to get better and better because I love music and I’m legit going to make music for the rest of my life. I’m very confident of my ability to blow up though.
So, you’re not aspiring for the big leagues? Like Grammy’s? BETs? Headies?
I just want to make music until I die. That one is set in stone as far as I’m concerned. What I’m not certain about is commercial success. As for awards, I really don’t care. Especially for those foreign awards. They’re, like, American awards but they don’t really do much for the advancement of our art here. If I have a chance to win one, that’s fine. I’ll be very psyched in fact.
But I just want to make music, use it to help my country, make myself and my listeners happy. See, music for me is me trying to bring out what’s in my head. To share a part of me for everyone who wants to listen, no matter where they are in the world. As long as I can do this, I’m happy.
That’s deep, man. One would think you were a sage or something.
That’s actually funny because a lot of people think I’m older. I’m a lot younger than you’d expect.
Has it affected how people relate with you in the industry?
Not at all.
What makes you so confident though?
I’m original. I don’t do what everyone feels is hot or in vogue. What I’m giving anybody that listens to Janas XS is my original self. And just like how I love jazz for being very freeform, I try to make my sound as freeform as possible but still come out very good.
Nice one. So, tell me, who inspires you?
It’s a long list man. A very long list. From my friends to my family, to those who have taught me, and to many music greats, especially from the golden days of jazz. You can check out my playlist for those I look up to. If you can count all the artistes, you’ll have your number (laughs). I like Sarz and Pheelz as producers and I try to pick stuff from their work. But God is the ultimate for me.My experiences also inspire me.
This lockdown really affected my creativity because there weren’t many experiences for me. Even now that we can move about, we’re still conscious of coronavirus so I’m not living life enough. Living life, and tapping from people’s experiences do it for me.
This has been an experience for me personally Janas. Thank you for talking to me.
I’m grateful you took the time out to interview me. I’m grateful.
Any projects already released and anyone we can look forward to?
I have quite a lot in the archives. I have a few that are out, mostly in the underground scene. You’ve heard my new single already, “Hope You’re Listening“, But I’ll be releasing all of them in due time.
I’ll surely be looking out for them. Thank you for your time, my guy.
Thank you so much, Chima.