Today we will talk with another ex-contestant from The Voice of Romania, Tobi Ibitoye, who told us about his life in Romania as a Nigerian, what did the Voice of Romania mean to him and what is his opinion about Eurovision. Let’s see!
Hello, Tobi. How are you? How is your career going?
Hi, I’m doing very fine, thank you very much. I can say my career is going just fine. I can say that because I’ve managed to achieve some very important things, like understanding the creation process of music, defining to some extent my character as an artist, who I really am as an artist and most importantly, actually creating good music. I am still learning so much from the music industry, but so far… I think I’m on the path to build a very fruitful career.
Could you reveal some of your future plans?
For the immediate future, I’m working on releasing a new single with a video. You know, put something good out there for people who love to listen to me. Getting my music on the radio and tv stations. Preparing a more original show with each opportunity I get and on the long term, eventually releasing an EP or even an Album.
It’s been a year since the final of The Voice of Romania. Could you tell us how did it feel for you to be one of the 4 finalists?
It was absolutely sensational. It did feel quite incredible, unbelievable. You know, I started or better still, went into the competition with a very laid back mentality. I figured, there’s nothing to lose, why not try to actually just put you out there. I was honestly very scared, but I can say, every stage, up until the final and including the final, was a very big encouragement to me as an artist. I got to learn so much, but the fact that people loved what I was doing, so much so they voted for me to put me through to the final and to leave the competition in third place, was more than a dream come through for me.
How would you describe your journey at The Voice of Romania?
It’s really hard to describe the journey at The Voice because it was a very intense one. So many things happened. It took a lot of work and commitment and focus and determination and every adjective that can be used to describe the level of challenge that could face anyone in a new domain. I had to learn the meaning of showmanship, while also learning how to fully concentrate while singing. Eventually, everything piles up to the creation of a very special moment, one that feels like a lifetime, but in the space of about 2 to 3 minutes. Doing that almost every week, through intense rehearsals and late nights and eventually putting up the show on show day… All the way to the finals of the show… Sensational!
Do you still keep in touch with your ex-coach, Smiley? How is Smiley as a coach?
Yes, I do. We talk on phone or on Whatsapp from time to time. We follow each other on Instagram and other social media networks as well… So one way or the other, we keep in touch. He’s a great guy. Not just a great coach. He’s a very passionate guy… So he feels a lot… He feels each experience with you… All the emotions, all the mistakes at rehearsals, he feels the arrangement of the song and twitches them from time to time to create an even better performance. You know, everything revolves around that very strong passion for the music and to be able to have a coach who’s attention is so drawn so strongly to perfecting every aspect of a performance and having him do that out of sheer passion… is just the best thing any contestant could ask for. I remember in the finals, when I was supposed to dance to a collage of feeling good by Michael Bublé and James Brown’s I feel good… and Smiley saw the dance routine and decided to add some moves of his as well to the routine… and it all came out beautiful at the end. I mean… he’s a great coach… I can’t say much more than that! Cheers Boss!
Would you try to make a comeback at this contest, or would you try another one?
No no, I don’t think so. I mean, the show has given me the best opportunity ever. It has showcased me not only to Romania, but to the world. That for me, is pretty much more than enough. In the first place, I didn’t go on the show believing I would win and winning would be the only motivation to return to The Voice. I’d rather capitalize on all that I’ve learnt during the show, by creating my own music and putting it out there for people to enjoy… and to be honest, the same thing goes for any other show… I mean, there’s really no other reason to go into another competition, other than winning it… From the little I know about competitions, it never really works out that way.
We know that you have been living in Romania for some years. How big was the impact for you when you moved to such a different country from Nigeria?
The very beginning was quite a challenge, but I’m really glad that I opened myself up to the possibility of adjusting to a new environment. Today I get around just fine in Bucharest and I’m well acquainted with the country as well. Moving to Romania impacted my life in the most positive way, it gave me a new perspective to life and I’ll always appreciate that.
We think you miss your motherland, it’s something normal. Will you move back to Nigeria or do you plan to be a “Romanian” forever and stay here?
As a matter of fact, at the moment, I’m in Nigeria. So I’m not missing Nigeria anymore. On the contrary, I’m missing Romania. I’m really missing Bucharest. All my friends know that I’m crazily in love with the city. I miss you Bucharest!!!
Like I said, I’m in Nigeria at the moment. But I intend to be in Bucharest by February 2017. I don’t know about living in Romania for the rest of my life. I mean, to be honest, I’d love to. So if it is possible… I will gladly spend a lifetime in Bucharest. But if not, I’ll see where life takes me. Be it Nigeria or some other country… what’s most important is to be happy wherever I am. But I’ve spent 7 happy years in Bucharest. I’m surely looking forward to many more.
You might have heard about Eurovision, the biggest European musical competition. It’s very popular in our country. Have you ever watched it? If you did, would you compete in our National Selection in order to represent Romania?
I have heard of Eurovision and I have watched a number of editions as well. But I can’t confidently say “yes, I’ll compete in the national selections”. That’s because I don’t know if I have the drive and the will to go through the rigorous experiences that come with such a high level competition. I mean, I already said earlier on that, winning a competition isn’t one of the things I want to accomplish as an artist.
I can’t however ignore how big honour it would be for me to represent Romania on the international Music Scene. That would be quite an accomplishment. I do feel nonetheless, that it would take a whole new level of passion and creativity and even strategy, to compete and win the opportunity to represent Romania. Do I have this level of passion, drive, creativity at the moment? I don’t think so. Is there a possibility that I can conjure such level of passion, drive and creativity? Possibly. Eventually, as much as I fancy the idea… I can’t say I have a definite answer to that question.
Which is the perfect combination for winning such an important contest like this one?
You see, I could barely even tell you the perfect combination for winning the voice, because I didn’t win it, and to be honest… I don’t think even the winner knows the exact or perfect combination for his success. There’s no doubt that it takes a lot of hard work, determination, focus, passion, and so on. But for some people, even all that isn’t enough… Not to mention that it also takes the votes of the viewing public. I mean, you have to perform at such a level every week, so much so that you can convince a majority of the people watching out there that you deserve their votes. There’s so much to pay attention to and I believe that if you strategically try to actualize such level of carefulness… You stand a great chance of just flopping. So eventually… it falls down to the individual. Being yourself… Singing your heart out… and enjoying every single moment on and off the stage. From there on, you have to just hope and believe that you’ve done enough to get the votes you need and if you find yourself still in the show at the beginning of a new week, get ready to do it all over again.
Who are the Romanian artists you would collaborate with?
I would love to collaborate with the most unique Romanian artists, people who have created their own sounds, their own music, in their own style for others to fall in love with. Such as Golan, Carla’s Dream, Are You Anywhere, Feli, Helen, Doc, Inna, Delia, Alb si Negru, Taxi, Vama and most definitely my mentor, Smiley. I also want to work with some young and upcoming artists as well, the likes of Marian Vasilescu, Shots, and of course my good friend Michel Kotcha.
Do you have a message for our readers?
I just want to say a very big thank you to everyone for everything. For supporting me, for looking forward and anticipating new music from me, for following my development on the show and on social media as well… You know for everything. I strongly believe that the best is yet to come and that they’ll have a lot of good music to enjoy from me!
Thank you for your time, Tobi! We wish you the best of luck!