Soch is an intelligent musician who quit his job as a communications expert with a top NGO to pursue music full-time. In this exclusive, Red Edit sits with Sochima Eze aka Soch in an honest interview and talks about everything about the life of rising artists, having a PLAN B, how to make a living from being a Nigerian musician, and the challenges of trying to make it in the Nigerian music industry. Enjoy!
Red Edit: Can you tell the readers about yourself?
Soch: I’m Soch; my real name is Sochima Eze. I am from Anambra state. I got my first degree at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka where I read English and History. I went on to further my education at Coventry University where I read international relations and security studies. I am this happy, restless guy laden with messages, and I try to pass my messages through my music.
Red Edit: Have you always known you were passionate about music and music is what you wanted to do?
Soch: I was conscripted into the school choir. In school, it was compulsory to be in the school choir. I learned a lot from being in the school choir. Also, my dad had introduced me to music growing up. He bought a piano for me. Although I never learned to play, I always had this fire for music. My dad always played Michael Jackson, Fela, and I got interested in music at an early stage before being conscripted into the choir where I learnt a whole lot.
Red Edit: At what point did you start pursuing music as a career?
Soch: In my first year at university, I started taking music seriously. But at some point, I knew it was going to clash with my education. I had to slow down on the music and face my education because some other people I pursued this dream with had to drop out and follow this music dream full time. I came back to Nigeria after my Master’s degree and then I worked for two years as a communications officer and an executive later on. However, the music thing kept hitting, I knew it was what I wanted to do because I wasn’t happy. I left the job, but I made sure I had something gong on while pursuing music full time.
Red Edit: How would you say the journey has been so far for you? Was giving up your job worth it?
Soch: It has been challenging. The truth is like any other aspect of life, saturation happens. The music industry is highly saturated. It seems like there are more musicians than fans. People listen to music and they want to make theirs as well, and that’s it. So music is no longer professional these days. More so, once you have significant funds to promote your music, you stand a chance of overshadowing whatever quality music efforts made within the same timeframe. Furthermore, the production of music can be very expensive. Promoting music is way expensive, it is a lot. You might not need all the money in the world, but you need to get yourself out there and be heard, and that’s not free so patience can be key.
Red Edit: Even though the music industry is saturated, some people know your music, so how have you been able to get to that point?
Soch: I always try to personally connect with my fans. I keep them close and make them friends. This way I grow and they, in turn, introduce me to people I need to know. Some of them are professionals and so they help me out when necessary. I am just blessed that way.
Red Edit: What’s the reaction of your African parents to your music career especially as you quit your job for this? What’s the support like?
Soch: Considering the society and times we live in their support fluctuates from time to time. During the early stages, it was like this guy could be a doctor engineer or anything, why be a musician? Getting to that intermediate stage, it was like, he has some talent, he can explore music but he can still be a doctor, engineer, or anything ‘better’. Seeing this was a passion for me, and seeing I was talented, their support started to grow. At the moment they are very supportive. Although, they will always want you to keep your eyes out and ears open for opportunities.
Red Edit: Before you entered the entertainment world, what was your corporate history like?
Soch: Before I returned from London to start the 9-5 life, I worked with the West-Midlands counter-terrorism unit at some point through a job I got from a friend. I studied international relations and security during my master’s programs at Coventry University, so that helped. I did some teaching, editing, and some confidential documentation. I even worked at a bar at some point, then I came back to Nigeria and got a job as a communications officer with Aspire Coronation Trust Foundation for almost two years. It was a great adventure, until I called it quits and decided to pursue my passion, music.
Red Edit: Is it the passion for music that made you quit or the job was terrible enough to make you quit?
Soch: Honestly, it was passion first. But then, the corporate life scene for me held a lot of negative energy I didn’t need to make music. It may not be directly from the place of work or where you work but there’s a lot of negativity on the corporate scene that might just hinder the way you view freedom of thought.
Red Edit: What do you think about the music industry in Nigeria right now?
Soch: People who are passionate about music at the moment are suffering a whole lot. A lot of passionate people who are talented lack the knowledge of the music business. Some may be talented and have knowledge of the music business but you are just unlucky in the industry. You are not given a chance to be heard or you are not making enough moves. There would always be the money issue but one has to make moves to meet the right people as the music industry is highly competitive and saturated. There’s a lot of competition for the A-list artists, you can imagine what goes on for the B or C lists artists and as the strata descends.
Red Edit: The music industry is saturated and there’s no guarantee that one would make it. What’s your take on having a Plan B? Is it fair to tell a passionate music artist to have a Plan B? Do you have a Plan B?
Soch: (exhales deeply) Personally, I don’t have a PLAN B. If I say the music industry is saturated a huge factor responsible for that is the people who just want to be famous, or see music as a means to getting silly rich. Social media has a huge influence on people and people see certain artists, crave their fake lifestyles, and then go into music industry with high hopes. For those that are truly passionate, they need to understand music is not a money making venture. However, when you turn it into a business you can make money from it with some degree of patience and consistency. If you are looking for a Plan B, it should be a plan that already exists because your life has to continue music or no music. Music takes a lot of time, and anything can happen at any time, one just needs to understand the business side of music and tap into its numerous potentials.
Red Edit: When you were in the UK, did you do anything music-related?
Soch: I wrote songs. I was a ghostwriter for a while. I did that for about five artists.
Red Edit: How would you say it is for artists in the UK compared to artists in Nigeria?
Soch: Art needs appreciation and in the UK, the environment supports entertainment. However in Nigeria people barely see the need to appreciate music and musicians. In the UK you can release your music, record label or no label and still sell with a good strategy. However, in Nigeria, you have to struggle through merit, nepotism and a regressive local music infrastructure amongst others. There is a whole lot but the biggest one is the appreciation of the music and the artist.
Red Edit: Critique your music for us. What’s the vibe of your music? What would you say your music embodies?
Soch: My music generally carries the message that life is ephemeral however, there’s so much value to living it. I involve a lot of storytelling in my music.
Red Edit: Can you recommend three songs that would give us a feel of who you are as an artist?
Soch: The first song I would recommend to you is Monkey. When I did Monkey, I was going through some stuff regarding finance so listening to Monkey alone would give you an idea of how hurt you can be when your pocket is hurt. Especially as a man surviving within this economy.
The next song I would recommend is Lagos, it was produced by Rjay and mix engineered by STG. I got the idea for this song on a danfo bus ride. I was going one morning to work from my house, I was on the bus, it was raining and the rain was dropping through the roof of the bus on my white shirt. I had to take off my tie. I was really annoyed but when I got to the office I picked something out, got an instrumental from my friend, and then I sampled my experience in a voice recorder. I abandoned the song and picked it up when I went to do a show in Anambra. After the show, I wrote some verses with my friend and recorded it there.
The next song is Bolo. Bolo is a love song and this type of song is the new age love that has to do with material things. With Bolo I was trying to say that we should be on the lookout for love because love is highly suspect in this generation. I preach with my music. My music always carries a message.
Red Edit: Where do you see yourself in five years’ time? Where do you intend to take your music to in the long run?
Soch: I see myself at the top. Being a professional musician, you have to set goals as well. My three-year plan alone assures me I would be somewhere great if I believe and work on it Right now, my goal is to get my music heard, and if I execute my plans right my music would be at the top in three years. In five years’ time, my music would be totally global.
Red Edit: Thank you for speaking with us, we genuinely can’t wait to see you at the top. What’s your social links for those that would love to connect with you.
Soch: Thank you so much for having me. The links to my music are: