She’s got a sense of style you just can’t ignore, lively lyrics to her songs and delivers her bars beautifully. Her name is Eva Alordiah, better known by her stage name Eva. The Computer Science graduate from Bowen University recorded her first track in 2009 and hasn’t looked back ever since. Aside from being one of Nigeria’s hottest Femcees at the moment, Eva is a dancer, model, makeup artist, and songwriter. Her hit tracks including “High”, “I Done Did It” & “Big Biggie” have earned her multiple awards and nominations and she continues to strive for bigger platforms. In this exclusive and revealing interview with BellaNaija’s Adeola Adeyemo, Eva takes us on a journey through her music career, breaks the silence on her split from Trybe Records and shares with us intimate details of her life.
Eva has been creating quite a buzz ever since she stepped into the music industry, and the buzz doesn’t seem to be fading any time soon. If she isn’t dropping hit tracks, she is gracing red carpets or magazine covers in style. From her nominations at the Headies, to her recent split from Trybe Records, she always seems to remain in the news. Eva had a bubbly personality that was hard to hide when we met. But beneath the glitz and glam of her career, she is just the girl next door who passes through life’s hurdles like everyone else and tries hard to be the best she can be.
At the last Headies, you were nominated in the highly coveted “Next Rated” category. How did you feel about the nomination?
It was my first ever nomination at the Headies and I saw it as a gift. I think I was so overwhelmed that I wasn’t necessarily thinking about just the nomination, but the whole opportunity. I didn’t win but I still felt like a winner. You had to be voted to win and I had to get my fans to vote for me. The campaign was serious, people were all over Twitter talking about me everyday non-stop till the Headies. My fans, beautiful people just supported me for some reason. God bless them.
The “Eva” Story
You’ve had a successful music career Eva, but I’m sure you have a story behind it. Tell me your story. How has the journey been?
The journey has been solo and crazy. It has been one ride after another. It has been fun but it’s been mostly painful; very painful especially for a young woman doing music. The music business is a very crazy business even for the guys. So when you put a woman in the mix and have her do everything by herself and face the media, the critics, the haters… it’s been difficult.
The haters? You are generally perceived as a well loved artiste. Do you really have haters?
Oh yes. There are people who have never met you before, maybe they’ve seen your picture and because they hate how you look in that picture, they will hate you. Because you look fierce or daring in a picture, they will say you are arrogant. I’ve had to go through a lot of emotional stress, plenty heartache, plenty pain. At a point when you want to have fun with what you love to do, you can’t feel the joy anymore because there is so much pain.
Oh dear, you sound really hurt but you always appear happy and lively.
I appear to be very happy, but deep down, we go through so much. The look in your videos will hide this pain, the persona in your music would hide it except if your music is talking about the pain.
I think you need to recall this journey from the very beginning. How did you get started off to get to this point in your career?
I was fresh out of Secondary school when I started out as a model. At that time, we didn’t really have a modeling culture in Nigeria where everything is organized. It was a crazy hustle. At some point, I had to write JAMB two times. While taking lessons, I saw this girl in my class and she was so beautiful. As a girl, I would find myself turning back to look at her in class. One day I walked up to her and asked how she did her eyebrows because they were so perfect. So she taught me how she did it and told me the kind of products she was buying. So I began to save my allowance to buy make-up and I became very good at it. Around that time also, my Mum taught me how to sew. So I went from modeling, fashion to make up artistry. I also realized that I love business. When I got into Bowen University, I started going to Yaba to buy clothes and Vespa at Badagry to buy shoes and bags to sell in school. The girls that would be forming Gucci and Prada were getting their clothes from me. They couldn’t go to Yaba and bend down but I did. By the time I invested N20,000 out of my allowance to buy second hand bags, clothes and shoes, I would sell it in school and make 500% profit. I could buy a bag for N500 and sell it for N2,500. I was feeling like a boss. It was good business.
Interesting. But when did the music come in all of this?
Music and entertainment was always there. Through all of my school life, I was on stage. I was in cultural group, literary and debating society, drama, choreography and hip hop dance group. In secondary school, I was a dancer and I was really popular because of entertainment. Because I went to a private University, we had to entertain ourselves because we are locked in school like secondary school students. All this time I was in love with Hip Hop and Rap.
Why rap? Why did your love for music tilt towards rap?
I was a tomboy. I was a chorister because I loved to be on stage but rap was very natural for me. I grew up with boys. I have three brothers so the boy culture, the hip hop culture was natural for me.
At what point did you start to nurse the idea of having a career in music?
One day before I got into the University, I called Star FM and Teddy Esosa picked up the call. Luckily, it was not an on air call. I was like “hi, my name is Eva and I want to rap”. He said I sounded very young but I should come to the studio. I went and he introduced me to DJ Bombastic who later introduced me to Zidon Paparella. They took me to Zidon’s studio in Ogba. I was like a little studio rat coming in once in a while but I never got to record anything. Later, JAMB decided to be kind to me and I got admitted into the University so my focus shifted to school. I did not record anything until M.I released “Safe” in 2009. When I listened to it, I was like “how intelligent can you get!” I felt so gingered to go and record and I went to Tha Suspect who helped me record my first track.
How old were you then?
I was like 19 or 20.
How did your parents take your decision to go into music? Were they in support of it right from the very start?
My dad got very itchy because I started getting popular in my final year. Right after school, when it was time to go for my Youth Service, he called me and asked “what do you want to do?” And I was like “yo can’t you see? I’m in the newspapers right now. I want to do music.” He wanted to help me get a job in a reputable company so we had an agreement. I told him to give me one year and if I wasn’t successful with my music he could take me to whatever corporate organization he wanted to. He agreed and my one year was successful. My father would be by himself in his office and his friends from across the country, from Germany, from London, even those he hadn’t spoken to in a long time would call and say “I just saw your daughter on TV. Is that your Alordiah?” He was really very proud of me.
Split From Trybe Records 2.0
In May 2012, it was announced that Eva had joined Trybe Records as their newest member. Fast forward to November 2012, an official announcement was made saying she had parted ways with the record label. Contrary to what most people believed, Eva revealed that she was never officially signed on to Trybe Records.
Recent events in your career have put you in the limelight and the details are still very sketchy. Let’s take it from the start. How did you join the team at Trybe Records?
I was just chilling and eLDee called from South Africa. I had met him two years before and he had a deal for me which at the time, I wasn’t feeling. He had some kinda production deal for me and I was looking for a full record deal. But fast forward to that day, I felt like I had done enough work for him to be calling me. It felt good that he thought about me and he said would like to work with me. So we worked something out.
But months later, the announcement of your split from the record label came as a shock to many. Was it also a surprise to you?
Haha! Shock kwa? I’m seriously never talking about that. My lips are sealed.
Can you please describe the circumstance(s) that led to the split?
Again, still not talking.
How will you describe your brief stay at Trybe Records? What will you miss and is there anything you are relieved about?
(Laughs) God, you are so persistent. Still not talking. There’s nothing to say.
There are rumours circulating that you probably demanded too much financial rewards from the record label which might have led to the split. Is there any truth in this?
Never believe all you hear or read about anyone. Trust me.
Has the split affected your career in anyway, probably in terms of getting booked for shows and endorsements?
I do what I do because I derive joy from it. Has my joy ceased? No, not at all. Do I still feel very blessed by the love and support I get from the fans and lovers of my music? Yeah! I am very grateful for what I have, and while I yearn for more I never forget what I have been blessed with or where I’m coming from. I am just a young girl who’s trying to get the job done, you know. There are so many nights I go to bed crying myself to sleep, yet I still have to come out and form “Diva” during the day. I have made stupid stupid mistakes in the past misrepresenting myself as a person and now I have to deal with so many misconceptions of me. It sucks but it gives me a chance to show you who I really am, not what you’ve heard of me. But hey, I’m only a girl like so many other girls trying to survive. We fight. We push. I feel like the only thing that would ever affect my career would be me. Lord please, deliver me from Eva. (Laughs)
Many people thought you were going to release an album under Trybe Records. Now that you are no longer with the record label, is an album still in the works?
Yes. Music is love for me. I do it from my heart, from the depths of me. I have pretty much survived my whole career without ever signing on to any record label contrary to all the many reports you might have heard about my “supposed” affiliations with this and that label. I get a lot of support from a lot of well meaning people, but have I ever being signed to a record label? No. I’m currently working with an excellent management company ’3UD’, and we have been working on a double music project since last year. At this point in my career, I’m grooming myself. I’m basking in the love that I feel from people who genuinely support me and keeping myself grounded as much as possible.
Oh really? The impression most people had is that you were actually signed on to Trybe Records. Looking ahead, are you planning to get signed on to another record label?
I have no idea. I sincerely can’t say. I have never been signed to a record label before and I have done so much work on my own so far. The only deal I am on currently is a music writing and collaborative singles deal with a record company in the UK. Seriously, all I want to do now is work and be happy. Push. That’s all I ever do. And everyday, the support from the media, the DJs, Radio, TV, my amazing fans and God, is all I need to keep doing what I do.
Let’s talk about your style. You have a very strong personal style which has come to be accepted as the “Eva” brand. You really do stand out. How did you come about this?
When I started music, I was faced with having to sell myself in ways that were cheaper than spending money. In a business sense, this was a “notice me point of view”. It started as “Ah you must notice me oh. I no get money wey I go spend for this industry but you must notice me.” So I cut my hair and did the Mohawk style and everybody was looking at me like “who is this girl?” My style really started from the point of view that I had to brand myself, I had to stand out, I had to be different and whatever I could do to make it happen, I was gonna do.
I’m quite intrigued by your hair, especially the Mohawk. How do you maintain it? How do you keep it standing?
Lots of starch.
I think maintaining the hair is the easy part. Getting it done is the stressful long part because I have to go through several salons. The guy that cuts my hair is not in the same Salon where I get my extensions in. Where I get my extensions in is not in the same place where I colour my hair. That is the funny part.
You can be quite daring with your fashion. For instance, the clothes you wore to the recent ELOY awards and the FAB Awards Nominees party created quite a buzz. What inspired those outfits?
I have always been responsible for my sense of style and I’m very unapologetic for a lot of decisions I have made as regards fashion. For people, I might be tacky, messy, classy, what-the-F are you thinking, sexy, tomboyish, edgy, dark… But in the end, am I happy? Am I comfortable? Yes. This is where a lot of us miss it. For Eloy, I was a huge fan of the style of the jump suits. When I wore it, it felt perfect, but I had a frown on my face when I saw it in pictures. I guess I can say it had two faces. The event I wore the dress and sneakers, come on! I sprained my ankle real bad while performing on stage. I couldn’t walk without support for over a month and of course, heels went out of the menu for me. I was responsible to an organization to appear at their event and I take my work very seriously. So out I went against my doctor’s orders, rocking sneakers that I couldn’t even lace because of my bandaged foot. I’d like to think the real stupid thing there was not listening to my doctor. I got a lot of hate for doing that from people whom I directly owe no apologies to. But in the end I saved a business relationship and had one more happy customer. (Laughs)
It was great chatting with Eva and from BellaNaija.com, we wish her the very best!