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When did you first get into making music, what got you started? I lost my brother when I was 12 and part of what was recovered from the plane crash was his harmonica. I was in high school and they brought us down for two days just to see him, and I picked it up in the room, went back, and since then I started playing it. I never saw myself doing a 9 to 5, but I always saw myself as an entertainer, so I started doing it from there. Then, you know how it is, you start thinking you can write, going to studios, start trying to book... but it didn’t really work until I travelled to the UK and met a guy called JJC. They had this group called JJC & 419 Squad. There I met my producer Don Jazzy, who did all my songs and we became partners and went back to Africa… and the rest is history.

Your star status is rising in the UK. How do you feel about that? I’m ready; I came into town yesterday and I heard ‘Oliver Twist’ on the radio. I was on the plane flying in and some kids (they played for the under-17 Tottenham [football] team) came to me and said, ‘Are you Oliver? Are you D’banj?’ I’m popular with my African people, everywhere they see me they shout, ‘Hey, D’banj!’ But this one, I was like, yes, I’m D’banj, I’m the one. We took pictures and it just made me realise that, wow, this is actually real. I am so privileged and I am so humbled, I’m excited.

In Charles Dickens’ tale, Oliver Twist was a young orphan who lived a miserable existence. How did the track come about? This year is supposed to be 100 years since he was born in 1912, and I did not even know; but the concept of ‘Oliver’ was actually from the book as well, which, if you look at it, it’s a way of life. It’s how we all are, we are never satisfied with what situation we find ourselves in, and I saw it as musicians or me doing music, always trying to pass a message across. So when myself and my producer were doing the song together, I felt it would be great if, you know, we always played about with my songs with what life is about. So for me when we were doing ‘Oliver’ it was for us to be able to engage people with everything they’ve said. You have one car, you want another one; you have one beautiful girlfriend, you want another one.

Did you think the song was going to be as popular as it has been? We always dream. I didn’t know it would reach London, that it would be played on radio; but coming from Africa, when I do something, I do it to hit the whole world.

We dream. I didn’t know it would reach London. Coming from Africa, when I do something, I do it to hit the whole world

What was the first thing you did after being signed to Kanye’s GOOD Music label?

I called my mum. I said, ‘Mummy, yes! We’re here now!’ she said, ‘What do you mean?’ I said, ‘Yes, we’ve made it!’ My mum didn’t know who Kanye West was. I said, ‘Do you know Michael Jackson?’ she said, ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘That’s Kanye West.’ Like, that’s how big he is. My mother said, ‘OK!’

Who was your first celebrity crush? Christina Milian.

Last thing you bought?

What was the last thing that I bought? Well, I just bought myself some nice perfumes in the Middle East. Do you like the way I smell? [Laughs]

Who’s the last person you usually call at night?

It depends, maybe my accountant.

What attributes do you look for in your ideal woman?

My ideal woman – that question they’ve been asking me like close to a decade now. I want a Kokolette, that’s what I want. A Kokolette is a well-endowed woman [laughs].

Is there a ‘Mrs’ D’banj in the picture or are you single? No, I am D’banj, there’s no Mrs. It’s just me alone; me, myself and I. If you like me follow me on Twitter...

Follow D’banj on Twitter @iamdbanj


Interview: Denise ‘CMyPassion’ Kodia, Photography: Jordan Roach

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