Popular music producer, Osabuohien Osaretin, better known as Sarz, has worked with top artistes such as Drake, Wizkid and Tiwa Savage. He tells TOLUWALOPE KAREEM that he didn’t always have it easy, especially in the early days of his career
How would you describe your experience as a music producer?
Looking at where I’m coming from and where I am now, the journey has been really good. I’ve always recorded progress every year and I’m happy.
What are the highest and lowest moments in your career?
I remember when I had just started my career, I produced about three songs for a particular artiste. This was before I did any ‘big’ recording and because the artiste was popular, I was expecting to get paid properly. But, after making the songs and the album was released, the artiste kept telling me he would ‘settle’ me when the distributor paid him. I kept disturbing him for about a month until one day, he told me to come to his house that he would give me the money. When I got to his house, he eventually gave me N5,000. I almost cried that day because I was expecting so much more from him. He asked me how much I was expecting and I told him I thought it would be something substantial. He laughed and said he couldn’t pay me that amount because I was a ‘nobody’. However, I am here today and he is not.
As regards my high moments, it is hard to say because I hardly celebrate anything. I feel like things can always get better. But if I’m to specify, it would be when a song I worked on, One Dance, became number one in the world.
You have a number of productions to your credit. Which will you consider your best so far?
It is so hard for me to choose because I love all my songs differently and it depends on my mood. I also believe that my best works are on my laptop; they are not out yet.
How do you get inspired?
I get inspired by thinking of how far I can take music. Just thinking about new ideas I can bring to life to impact the world drives me. Also, conversations and other songs inspire me.
Why are you going into ‘deejaying’ and not singing?
That’s because I cannot sing to save my life. There’s a certain way I’d expect myself to sound and I don’t sound that way, so I don’t think singing is for me. I don’t see myself performing on stage. Maybe when I get confident enough on that level but I don’t think it’s really my thing.
Meanwhile, I have always wanted to become a DJ.
How do you intend to combine being a music producer with ‘deejaying’?
I just have to find time for everything and manage my time better.
There are lots of talented DJs in the music industry. How do you plan to be different?
It is not about the number of talented DJs we have. There are many talented artists out there, yet new talents still break out. Everyone’s taste is different and we all have something different to offer. It’s not really about the competition; there’s always something new one can offer. One doesn’t have to be the best to become the best. There’s always room, so I’m not afraid of competition.
Can you recall your first experience as a DJ?
I started my career as a DJ in April and my first experience of playing outdoors, out of the comfort of my home, was at a club. I went there unannounced because if it was announced that I was coming to play, everyone would train their cameras on me and make me fidget and probably make mistakes. I did my thing and it was not so bad because as a producer, one already has certain knowledge about ‘deejaying’ such as beat matching and other things.
What inspired you to become a producer?
A friend, who was a producer, actually introduced me to music production. Before then, I had always loved listening to music. I was a fan of music producers such as Timbaland and Pharell. I usually preferred listening to the songs those guys produced and my friend advised that since I was so interested in music production, I should take it up. The first day I tried it, I really loved it and I did not get tired, even after many hours. That was how I knew I really wanted to do this.
What qualities got you to this stage of your career?
Patience is very important. One also needs to learn how to reinvent. Reinvention is so important because people get bored easily and one needs to always find ways to evolve. People will get One shouldn’t lose oneself trying to dabble into too many things.
What is the place of the African culture in your productions?
In my productions, I would say everything– from the drums to the melody– depending on what I’m working on. Anyway, I’d say the drums mostly showcase the African vibe because that’s where the groove comes from.
As Sarz on the beat, do you play the drums?
I don’t know how to play any instrument. All the magic comes from my head, I just have to think about it and do it. I play the keyboard a little– enough to navigate around to do what I need to do but I don’t come from a musical background. My dad is not a musician and he doesn’t play any instrument; neither does my mum. Even as a musician, everything starts from the head because you have to think about it. That’s how it works for me.
What are you working on at the moment?
I have a joint project coming up soon. I’m also working on another album that would be released next year.