Peter Okoye, also known as Mr P talks about disbanded Nigerian pop group, PSquare, and how he now pursues his solo career.The music duo finally split in September 2017 after years of dominating the Nigerian music industry.
Almost a year, fans are still urging the twin brothers to reunite and operate as one.
PREMIUM TIMES spent an afternoon with Peter, now known as Mr P. He speaks about his career focus and life after Psquare.
PT: You took one of the biggest risks any musician could take when you decided to go solo. Can you honestly tell us if you were ready for the backlash and reactions that ensued?
Peter: It was a risk that is paying off today, I would say. I had prepared my mind for whatever the consequences of making such a decision would be. If you noticed, I said I am starting out my career as an ‘up-and-coming’ artiste. I made a decision based on my convictions and priorities. I don’t regret that decision one bit.
PT: Are you truly convinced that you have proved your critics wrong?
Peter: My intention was not to prove anyone wrong but find myself musically. Whatever the doubters are and whoever they may be, I wish them well.
PT: Do you sometimes miss P-Square and performing alongside your brother?
Peter: I would be lying if I said I do and I don’t. Being a part of a duo for as long as I was, and suddenly doing it alone took some getting used to. I like the fact that I can now express myself freely musically, I have more creative control and I am being heard. That makes it more interesting and I am getting used to it. So it eases the ‘missing’ so I’m good right now.
PT: What’s the next phase for you as a musician?
Peter: I hope to make more music, good music. I have so much to give as a musician. I’m also discovering and promoting other talented musicians under our P-Classic label. We have Singah, who just released a single Teyamo, DJ Switch with Penalty Dance and more to come.
PT: We have noticed that the direction of your music has changed since you went solo. Is this intentional?
Peter: Has it really? I guess that’s a good thing as part of my journey as a solo act is to find myself, experiment with sounds as much as I can, collaborate and work with some of the most vibrant minds in music.
PT: The Maltese president recently hosted you. What was the experience like?
Peter: It was a great experience, thanks to the fact that music is a unifier, most of us can relate to it on so many levels and Nigeria has also had a good relationship with Malta, so there was a lot to discuss.
PT: These days, your music videos can pass for short films. Will we be right to say that you have your eyes on filmmaking in the near future?
Peter: Yes, Yes and Yes. I’ve had to stretch myself beyond what the fans think they know about me beyond being a singer and dancer. As part of my mini-movie series, for one of the videos, I had to learn how to ‘fight’ in film/television and I do have my eyes on acting as well. So I am training and watching.
PT: How have you managed to reinvent yourself through the years?
Peter: By aiming to be a better me, being attentive to the times, trends and pushing myself to do more. You never stop learning, so if something interests me, I want to know more about it and see how I can get to do it. That’s how I learnt to play most of the instruments I play, curiosity.
PT: Are you looking to retire soon?
Peter: What’s that? (Laughs)
PT: You lead a very busy life as a performing artiste and businessman. How do you ensure that you have the home front on lockdown?
Peter: I have the greatest partner in my wife, she’s amazing and very understanding, even my kids understand the kind of work I do that keeps me away from home most times. Whenever I have time in between my tours or performances, I spend whatever time I can with them. I do school runs; attend PTA meetings, the works.
PT: Your industry has continued to evolve even in the absence of ‘proper’ record labels. What areas do you think still deserve some improvement?
Peter: I don’t think it is peculiar to Nigeria alone. Technology and the Internet have done a lot for the independent artiste, now you don’t necessarily need a big label behind you to get discovered.
Some of today’s biggest artistes were discovered online. Bringing it back home to Nigeria, if we have better internet connectivity, better distribution in place, copyright laws and funding and all the support we can get, we can enjoy most if not all the benefits of the potential the industry has.
PT: What are your thoughts on the state of the nation? Have you thought about dropping socially conscious tracks?
Peter: My belief is that it will be irresponsible of any Nigerian capable of speaking with their votes, not to use that power they have in the proper way. We need to seriously weigh our options as regards leadership and make the right decision in 2019. Nigerians deserve much more than their getting. My people let your voice be heard, get your PVC and use it.
PT: Your son, Cameron, appears to be taking after you as a dancer. Will you be supportive if he decides to pursue a career in entertainment?
Peter: My son has all the support from his mother and I to pursue whatever will make him happy or fulfilled. This goes for both my children.
Cameron is very talented; he is a great soccer player, he dances as evident in my most recent video, Ebeano – in fact he was the star of the video. He always brings home good grades. My job as a father is to encourage his strengths and support him to reach his full potential.
PT: What projects are currently working on?
Peter: Well, as you know I am constantly looking for ways to expand my horizon, which goes farther than the music. So alongside my team, some of the things I am most excited about are reality TV shows, one includes reviving Dance with Peter, the launch of my clothing line, the beverage factory and a platform I am particularly proud of as it is a way of giving back.