London producer nigeria

London Wants It All: In Conversation With Grammy-Nominated Producer and DJ, London


Beginning his audacious career as a music producer properly in 2018, Michael Ovie Hunter, more popularly known by fans and contemporaries as ‘London’ has risen quite meteorically. London is definitely one of the names behind the boards, shaping the blossoming narrative of Afrobeats and Nigerian music in general. In the span of about three years, London boasts an astronomical repertoire of collaborations, his biggest one so far being his involvement on Afrobeats icon – Wizkid’s ‘Made in Lagos’ which earned him a Grammy nomination.

Undoubtably one of the most electrifying and sonically courageous young producers in the new and heavily successful Afrobeats landscape, London is, in some sense, leading the charge of Afrobeats evolution, as the genre continues to assert its position in the global market.

Prodigious from an early age, London has always been bursting at the seams with musical talent and passion. As young as seven years old, London was already rubbing shoulders with senior choir members in church, commandeering the drums. This penchant for rhythm and vocals were the first seeds of what would become a stellar career rise as a Music Producer and DJ.

‘I have the Grammy nomination, and it feels fantastic, but it’s just a nomination. I want to get nominated again and actually win this time “

Working closely with another young gun like himself, in the person of Rema, the 22-year old self-taught production prodigy has been able to create a treasure chest of hit records. This connection with Rema has spawned multiple hits and is a major component of Rema’s chart-topping debut album ‘Rave & Roses’. Other major collaborations include Tiwa Savage’s ‘Koroba’ and ’Temptation’ featuring Sam Smith, as well as Ayra Starr‘s international hit ‘Bloody Samaritan.’

He recently signed his first publishing deal in a joint venture between Sony Music Publishing France and Bluesky Music Publishing, a move that amounts to greater international presence for London’s production, signaling the continued upward trajectory for the Grammy-nominated producer.

Having conquered a lot in the present, London discusses the past, and what the future holds.

What is the backstory behind the name ‘London’?

It’s actually not that deep to be honest. When I first got to the Mavin house, they would ask me for my name, and when they heard my name was ‘Hunter’ – Michael Hunter, they were like – Hunter doesn’t sound like a Nigerian name. Then I pointed out that my dad is from London, and from there, everyone started calling me ‘London Boy’. It stuck, and over time, they took the ‘boy’ out of the ‘London boy’, and that’s honestly how it stuck – London.

London producer nigeria

What was your introduction to music?

My first introduction to music came at a very young age. I used to play drums in church, and by the age of seven, I was already in the adult choir, playing drums for them too. I started making beats in 2018, but before that, I had always wanted to do music.

When did you know that you knew how to make music?

I always used to tell my parents to put me in a music school, because I was very interested in music theory but you know in Nigeria, they would rather you go to proper university where you can study law or something so they never really took it seriously. Fast-forward to 2017, I was working at this graphic design firm and they happened to have FLstudio on their PC, and curious me tried it out and I fell in love with the whole craft from there.

What and who are your major influences?

Major influence when it comes to artistry is Drake, there’s also Michael Jackson – I just love how into his craft he was, you know? He was full-on involved in the process of making his music. On the production side of things, I look up to Sarz, OVO 40, Bursbrain, Killatunez, and Don Jazzy to name a few.

What would you say, defines your production? What makes your music production special?

What really defines my sound is daring and trying to do the unusual. Doing things and adding sounds that you wouldn’t expect from an Afrobeats joint, like using a disco sound with Afrobeats drums, using trap drums on an Afrobeats melody. It’s just a blend of different worlds to create music that is just sweet to the ear. At this point, I feel like if you just listen to the music, even without my tag on it, you would be able to tell that London did something here.

What are the factors that need to be in place for a good song, and a good project?

Let me use the example of soups, because that’s what we like here. Everyone has a different way of preparing soup, but you could fall in love with all of them, at the same time. So, there’s really no specific rule with making music in general. Making a good record is pretty much just being able to express and enjoy yourself while making music. I believe that everything that everyone creates is magic in its own form, because music doesn’t just come from your hands, or your mind. Music is spiritual, and making good music has already been planted in you, you just have to bring it out. Also, for good music to happen, you have to have good writing skills, it’s a bonus, even as the talent is there. You have to work hard and improve yourself.

The connection between you and Rema has produced multiple major hits. Would you attribute that to an out-of-studio friendship?

Like I said, there are really no rules to music. It’s just you enjoying yourself, so because Rema and I are friends outside the studio, we’re definitely able to connect more while creating. I’m free around him and we tweak sounds together till we get what we want. Rema and I are like two kids at a beach, building sandcastles.

How did it feel to work on an album with Wizkid and get Grammy nominated?

Funny story, it almost didn’t happen. I never did a full session with Wizkid for the Made in Lagos album. I remember the day he recorded ‘Gyrate’, I had issues with my laptop at the time and he called me and said “Yo bro, I’m in Lagos, and I want you to pull up, I’m having a beatcamp”, and I responded telling him I wouldn’t be able to make it because my laptop was faulty. So, he told me to pull up still to chill. I headed there and everyone was around from Sarz to Blaze, to DJ Tunez, to Mut4y. Everyone was at the apartment. So, Wiz is recording and he gets bored of the vibe at the time. He requests for something different, so I pulled my phone out and played him the ‘Gyrate’ beat. He liked it and, in a few minutes, he had the hook ready. When Wizkid falls in love with a record, he goes at it immediately. He offered me a new laptop after all this was over.

I remember, a regular day, making beats and my friend and colleague Telz, texts me saying ‘Congratulations bro’. I was confused so he told me to check my Instagram. I headed there and the whole place was littered with congratulations and news about Wizkid and the Grammys. It was a very proud moment for me.

Will you be actively looking to pick the next Grammy nomination, or it doesn’t matter as much?

I have the Grammy nomination, and it feels fantastic, but it’s just a nomination. I want to get nominated again and actually win this time. And not just in the Afrobeats scene, I want to be nominated for different genres, I’m that diverse. So, whether it’s House, Pop, Electronic, whatever. I’m just working on a lot of stuff. I’m very hungry for that Grammy award, man. I’ve gotten as far as a nomination, I want to take it to the next level and get the award itself. Also, Rave and Roses gets a Grammy nod. I’m working on my own album, and I feel very strongly that that too will pull a Grammy nomination. It’s going to be the first producer album to get nominated for a Grammy in Nigeria.

London producer nigeria

How much do you think Nigerian music has grown in the last five years? And where do you think it is it?

No one can deny the fact that Afrobeats as a whole is really popping in Nigeria and taking over the world. It’s so amazing for me that people are so accepting of Afrobeats. It’s even more amazing that I am a part of the people taking this sound to the next level. I feel like Afrobeats will become as big as big genres like Hip-Hop, Pop, House, and whatever, if it isn’t already. You go to certain places and a lot of people just vibe to strictly Afrobeats, nothing else. It feels very surreal and we as the pioneers of this sound have to use this to our advantage. We need to keep fanning the flames till we fully take over. I saw a video where some people in China were vibing to Wizkid’s ‘Joro’.

What are your plans and ambitions? Wheat role do you think you have to play in Nigerian musical culture?

I see myself as one of the people taking Afrobeats to the next level. I’ve done so many records ‘Soundgasm’, ‘Electric’, ‘Bloody Samaritan’ to name a few, and it’s really crazy seeing my music getting played in places I’ve never even been to. My ambition is to keep doing what I do. To keep pushing the culture forward with it, and it’s not just about making music. We also have to empower the next generation of artistes and producers. I’m currently working with a few upcoming guys from Lagos and basically trying to put them on this new wave Afrobeats is on. I’m also working on a collective for upcoming producers where I’ll be helping them and giving them a platform. You know? Get them into the right spots. I’m in a place where I feel like I can help take these people to the next level and that’s the legacy I want for myself.

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