El Fata

Let’s get the ball rolling with a fairly cliched but none-the-less important question: who is El Fata?

El Fata is a singer, a peacemaker. El Fata (real name Tobi) is the son of El Shaddai (Father the Almighty), the Anoited one of God (which is what El Fata stands for). Check this YouTube link

Good answer. I understand you’re based in London but originally from Lagos, Nigeria. what was it like growing up in Africa and how has it influenced you?

Growing up in Africa, like any other place in the world has advantages and disadvantages. In Africa life is generally not easy, you will have to struggle to survive – as they say, it’s the survival of the fittest.

It’s shame that a land blessed with so many riches, one that has more than enough for its people, is still in such a bad situation. Due to the greediness of our own leaders and the external leaders (from countries we all know) who have manipulated, corrupted and polluted Africa.

On the positive side, growing up in Africa has helped me to live a positive life. I have learned to be respectful, thankful and appreciate every little blessing that life brings my way, no matter how small. The hardship in Africa has lead many to various creative ideas, some good, some bad as you need to think of what can make you survive. But this has given me more inspiration in writing my lyrics and composing melodies.

When and how did you come to live in England?

El Fata has been living in England for almost 10 years now. I came to England initially on holidays during which I came across Jim Bamber (the executive Manager and owner of Bamjimba music productions and Label) who was looking for a reggae vocalist to voice one of his instrumental track. He heard my music and he said he liked my voice and style of singing. He asked if I would like to work as the company’s vocalist, and I said why not? and this is where my movement to England began.

I returned back to Africa after my holidays, while Jim Bamber prepared my contract and the necessary paper work to allow me to work for his company. A year and some months after I came back to England to start to work for Bamjimba productions. Our first release Wakey Wakey was recorded at the Ariwa studio by Mad professor and Joe his son.

I imagine it must have been bloody freezing in London compared to the tropical climes of West Africa. What was your initial experience like when you arrived in England?

Yeah it was weird to me because back in Africa it’s so hot outside that you just want to get home or into any building with an air condition to cool you down. But when I came out of the Heathrow airport, I was expecting a warmer outdoors feeling, but it was like coming out of the fridge into a freezer! But I adapt very quick to every situation, so it wasn’t to hard for me. I was just COOL!

How do you like snow? It must have quite strange seeing that for the first time…

Yeah the first time it was strange. But it had a positive feeling on me and now I love snow apart from that it brings everything to stand still in UK!

Do you miss Nigerian food?

Not really, because here in the UK we have many African restaurant, shops and markets where you can get most of the food stuffs.

When did you first develop your passion for reggae music and what artists first struck a chord with you?

It was in the mid to late 80s – that was when reggae music was at its best. I can’t actually remember which artist was the first but I know at that time I used to love Young Gal by Don Carlos, and songs from artists like Mykal Rose, Junior Reid, Cocoa Tea, Half Pint, U-Roy and I-Roy, and later came the dancehall era with Shabba ranks and many more…

You’ve worked with artists such as Mungo’s Hi Fi, Disrupt (from Jahtari), Riddim Tuffa and Viktorious Sound – all digital reggae specialists. Would it be fair to say you’ve carved a niche for yourself as a vocalist who specialises in digital reggae?

Well, if you say so. But I know if another style of reggae music comes, I will also get inspired by it cause I love reggae music.

From afar, it seems like the digital reggae scene is really starting to grow in popularity across Europe. Have you noticed the crowds at gigs getting bigger?

Yes it is truly getting bigger – all my shows across Europe are usually packed and even some sing along with me, this is really positive. and it is an opportunity for us to get that positive message across to massive now we have their attention.

How did you learn to chat so bloody fast? Did you get private lessons from General Levy or something?

Haha, it is a gift from God… I do like General Levy’s style but the group that first inspired me to fast chant is called Fu-Schnickens with the title of their track released in 1992 called Ring the Alarm (which samples Tenor Saw’s tune).

Haha, what a quirky video – and cool tune too… Anyway, as well having wicked fast chat your songs tend to have quite political lyrics. Do you try and spread any particular message with your music?

Yes…L-O-V-E…Love, this is what we need to make the world a better place to live. The politicians are the ones polluting the world. We need to spread out some love around to people… You can’t stop war with war, this will only lead to retaliations that will go on and on – but with love you can make the impossible possible.

Are there any singers who inspire you at the moment?

Many – every good singer I listen to is always an inspiration to me.

Finally, what can we look forward to hearing from El Fata in the future?

More and more positive tunes with sweet melody (I love sweet melody). I’ve got some releases coming up with Jahtari (Germany), Fast Forward (Sweden), Meditative Sound (Sweden) and also some new ones from Tuffa Dubs (UK) and many more coming soon.

Give thanks El Fata, we look to hearing your new tunes soon and hope to see you performing some day in New Zealand!

More info:
El Fata Myspace