Banky W : “I love ladies who are ambitious and independent”
He caught the attention of music loving Nigerians with his Ebute Metta remix of Rihanna’s Umbrella in 2008 and hasn’t looked back ever since. Having released critical acclaimed albums including Mr. Capable, The W Experience, Back In the Building and R&BW, Banky W seats atop Nigeria’s R&B music industry and co-owns Empire Mates Entertainment (EME) Record Label with his partner and friend of many years, Tunde Demuren. Olubankole Wellington more popularly known as Banky W, a bundle of talent and creativity, shares his experience in this interview on directing and co-producing latest television commercial for the revamped DSTV compact bouquet.
How did your journey into music
I have been flirting with music all of my life. I don’t remember exactly how old I was when I started music, but I know I was incredibly young and I knew that I wanted to be a singer. When I was in University in New York, I got together with a friend of mine and we were always joking about this music thing. We knew that if we don’t put money towards pursuing it, it will pass us by. So at that point I hit the studio. I probably started recording seriously around 2002 and built it from there.
What role did you play in the production of the television commercial for the revamped DStv Compact Bouquet?
I wrote, co-produced, and directed it.
Prior to directing the TVC, did you have any experience working behind the camera?
Well, I’ve written screen plays for about 80-90 per cent of the music videos that EME has ever put out. I have also co-directed a major chunk of them as well. However, last year, I took some time out to study filmmaking at the New York Film Academy. It was at that point that I took on directing 100 per cent. I started by directing the videos for some of my singles including Mercy and Unborn child, and then it just grew from there.
What went through your mind when you got the brief to direct the TVC?
When I got the call to come in and pitch for the TVC, I was quite honored. That they even considered giving me a shot at it was a blessing. I know I’m still relatively new in the world of filmmaking, and I never take these things for granted. After that, I wrote my treatment, did up a storyboard, and pitched it. They liked the idea so once we agreed on the terms, my mind went fully into trying to execute it to the best of my ability.
Can you describe your experience working on this project? How different is working from behind the camera and working in front of it?
I consider myself someone who is creative for a living. God blessed me with the talent to be able to write and create and I’m grateful for that. So whether it’s writing songs, or making motion pictures, shaping an artist, or shaping a video or short film, it’s all about being creative. Directing, for me, is an extension of who I am and what I do. I enjoy being behind the camera as much as I do being in front of it. It’s a really fulfilling process; from coming up with a concept, to overseeing and managing all the moving parts until it comes to completion.
What was your experience like working with Ivie Okujaye, the lead person in the commercial?
Ivie is an absolute pleasure to work with. She’s very talented, and funny, and full of life. She’s also extremely dedicated to her craft. I can be very particular as a director, so sometimes I’d have to ask her to do a particular scene over and over but she never once complained or threw any kind of tantrum. She responded so well, and I’m grateful to her for having that kind of attitude towards what we were trying to create. I believe that she’ll go very far in the movie/TV world, by God’s grace.
How did you put together the technical crew that worked with you on the production?
I depended largely on people I’d worked with before, those I was comfortable with. So my Director Of Photography and editor was Mattia Palombi, a very talented Director Of Photography whom I met while in film school and who I worked with on the Mercy video. My production manager was Susan Younis. I’ve worked with her in various capacities over the years. I can’t say enough about my EME teammates, specifically Tunde Demuren, Yemisi Ayinde, Seun Johnson, George Guise and Michael Umoru. God bless them for sticking by me and supporting what I do. It feels like I come up with a new challenge or project I want to attack every other month, and they just do their best to help me make it work. The entire technical crew and cast on the TVC did a fantastic job, and I’m very grateful to each person.
Do you have any anxiety concerning people’s response to the TVC?
It’s natural for me to be a little anxious regarding the response. When you work really hard on something like this, you hope that people view it favourably and enjoy what you did. However, at this point, I’m very happy with the final result, so I’m at peace. If the people love it, thank God. If they don’t, I promise to work harder to win them over on the next one.
Tell us a little about your experience at the film school?
I had a great time at the New York Film Academy. I’ve been around cameras and sets for years, being in the music business but the filmmaking class I took helped me gain some very-basic-but-very-necessary technical knowledge about directing and filmmaking, and that has proved invaluable in my work now as a filmmaker. It was an intense class, but I enjoyed every minute of it. If I had my way, I’d go back and do a one or two years course. Unfortunately I don’t have the time for it now, but I intend to continue taking short term classes as the opportunity arises, because I’m determined to be the best at what I do and the knowledge I’m gaining will only help me in achieving that.
What should your fans expect from you in the nearest future?
I just released my new single High Notes, produced by Cobhams Asuquo. I directed the video, and I’m currently in the process of editing it in New York. I can’t wait to share that with everyone. Also, I recently directed videos for new singles by Niyola, Shaydee, and Big Mo. I’m editing those as well, and they should be out soon. I’ve also done a couple of collaborations; I’m on DJ Xclusive’s new single, alongside Sarkodie and Cassper Nyovest, as well as Wizzy Pro’s new single featuring Cynthia Morgan and myself. I’m working very hard. New album on the way as well!
Is Banky single?
Yes. It’s tough. It is a question of time. I’d like to think that I will eventually make a great boyfriend and husband. I try to be a romantic guy. I am very spontaneous. I like to enjoy my relationships. When the time is right I will be able to do all of that.
What do you look out for in relationship?
Physical beauty is important to a certain extent because you have to be attracted to someone to want to get to know more. I like girls that are independent and ambitious, that I can have a real conversation with. I like fun girls, girls who love music and can dance because I love to dance. If you can cook, it’s a huge plus because I am a sucker for good food.