Twenty-seven-year-old Teniola Apata is widely known as Teni the Entertainer and Teni Makanaki on the music scene. The rotund graduate of the University of Georgia doubles as a songwriter and recording artist with at least 10 hit songs to her credit. With a sister, who is also a singer, Teni opens up on her life, musical success, goals and love.
Congratulations on the wide acceptance of your latest EP. What inspired the three tracked EP?
We are in trying times with so many people losing their lives, jobs and more. The time for the significance of music in these difficult times cannot be overemphasized as it is one tool that could bring some hope to the world. So I felt I should put out a playlist to help people ease through this period. This is just good music to help pass the time.
You are widely referred to as the ‘one-take god’ over your ability to record a song once. How did you nurture this ability before mastering it?
So what I do is I just record whatever it is regardless of how it might sound. I then develop it later.
A few years back, you opened up on how you were allowed to showcase your ability as a songwriter when you wrote, ‘Like Dat’ for Davido. How has the journey been since then?
It’s been great. I do more song-writing for myself these days but when I get the right opportunities to get to work with other artistes in this capacity, it’s always a blessing.
So, how do you manage your repertoire of songs to ensure you have quality songs for your own albums and EPs?
For me I believe the fans deserve the best of me because for people to pay attention to you for three minutes of their lives, you just have to give them the best. I consult with my team and ensure it is near perfect from the production, the engineering, marketing and more.
Take me through the process of making a song
It’s mostly different processes but typically, I come up with these random melodies inspired by random sounds. Then I record a freestyle where I just vibe and then properly re-arrange the lyrics.
How do you know a song that will become a hit? Is it during writing or after production?
I don’t necessarily record for hits as I feel like every record is good music. A hit is determined by the fans who listen and decide oh I like this track more. So I just believe in making the music, consulting with my team and leaving it to the fans to enjoy.
Aside from your fame as a singer is also a personality that has been in existence even before you became famous for songwriting and singing, the goofy Instagram star. How did you come about that?
I just like being my happy self and making sure when I walk into a room I bring that energy there. You don’t know what different people are facing and if what I do or say can produce a little bit of relief in my goofy self and why not?
I remember starting out with YouTube videos of me talking about different random things and friends and family would tell me how much they enjoyed it. This got extended to my Instagram community and I’m really glad people accept me for who I am and find solace in it.
Let’s talk about family. What do you miss most about your dad, who is famed to be a disciplinarian and founder of Apata Memorial School?
I miss a whole lot. Yes a disciplinarian but he loved his family.
Niniola is your sister who is also doing very well for herself, have you both ever had to be rivals as to who is best?
It’s hard to believe but growing up in such a big household taught us about love for one another. We always ensured we had each other’s back. There is definitely no such thing as rivalry between Nini and I.
Which of your songs leaves you speechless every time you listen to it again?
‘Uyomeyo’ is that song that does this to me every time. It has a very special place in my heart because it has so much meaning and tells so much of my journey so far in life.
Which of your collaborations took you like forever before you got it and who are you eyeing to have a duet with internationally and locally?
I am not sure I have been in such a situation. However when it comes to potential duets, I would love to have Wande Coal, Wizkid, Simi, Chris Brown, Justin Bieber and Drake.
What is the biggest thing you have gained from fame?
The joy of seeing the happiness on the faces of the fans whenever I step on stage or meet them. It’s an irreplaceable feeling that your passion can provide all of these.
What are your pet peeves?
Dishonesty and lack of respect.
What’s your idea of love and are you currently in a love relationship at the moment?
Love is special. I mean the idea of building a life with someone forever and to do anything to see that person smile. It’s the greatest sensation you can ever find. I hope I get to experience it someday but right now it’s all about the music.