Life In Quarantine Is A New Bi-Weekly Column We Will Be Running To Give African Artists who are Quarantining In Different Countries Room To Speak About Their Current Creative Processes During The Current Global Pandemic. We Take A Look Into Their Daily Routines And Find Out How They Are Doing whilst having to be Away From Their Family And Friends With No End In Sight, Yet. This week, we speak to Dami Oniru about her time with her family in the States.
It took almost a whole week to get in touch with r&b/soul singer, Dami Oniru, and from our conversation, I came to realise that it’s because the reclusive artist spends a lot of her time off social media. She’s heavily invested in her daily schedule, and doesn’t find that much time to be as plugged in.
Back in February, before the ‘Rona and shortly after the release of the colorful visuals for ‘5 Shades of Bri’, Dami Oniru flew to Atlanta to visit her mum and sister for three weeks. She certainly couldn’t predict the changes that would take place within the space of her mini holiday.
Today, it’s been three months since she left Lagos and Dami is making the most of the time indoors with her family. She is choosing to look at the current lockdowns and social distancing requirements as a blessing in disguise from God.
As she waits out the opening of borders so she can come back, Dami Oniru is spending her time indoors wisely. One thing about Dami is that she has always been well-organised in her affairs and this is something that continues today even with the lockdowns. From mapping out her daily tasks in the morning, cooking up quarantine games for her fans and followers to even taking up guitar and piano lessons, and still finding time to code, Dami Oniru is keeping busier than ever. From our conversation, she definitely inspired me to do more with my time, and that’s one of the qualities of her music which sets her apart.
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On how she got stuck in Atlanta
I was meant to be in Atlanta for three weeks back in February when the coronavirus became a pandemic. Since then, I have been with my family, especially my mum and my sister and it’s great because I usually don’t get to spend this much time with them. We’re all just waiting for the borders to re-open so we can come back home, but I probably won’t even leave immediately it’s safe to travel just to see how everything out there plays out first.
On how she’s finding it
It’s been good, it’s been okay. This is the longest time I have been here at a stretch. It’s been good being with my mum and my sister. Georgia has actually re-opened, but I don’t really trust that decision because it had one of the highest number of cases in the US so my family and I are still limiting going outside and social distancing.
On how the city is like in lockdown
Like I mentioned, the city has pretty much opened back up because the state government made that call but it’s really just for essential workers and people who need to work to earn their living. Restaurants and fast-food joints are still closed but you can always order online. There are new social distancing requirements set in places like the supermarket as they have these stickers on the floor that ensure 6 feet distance between customers. I’m still spending most of my time indoors, and only go out for groceries. When I do, I glove and mask it up.
On her daily schedule in Atlanta
I usually start my day between 1pm and 2pm, I give myself free time in the morning cause once I begin my day, I’m sticking to my schedule until really late in the evening. I write a to-do list every morning and it’s usually the same thing, but it’s good to guide my day. I’m doing some coding courses, but I haven’t done it for the past two-three weeks because I have been focusing on the music aspect of my life and trying to properly plan and create a brand for myself, to utilise post covid. I’m ready to tie loose ends with everything concerning my personal brand Dami Oniru and focus on the music business side of things as well.
I now have a team, so every day, we speak about things that need to get done, and that’s mostly been about planning the release of my new single, which is out on Friday. Before this, I was coding every day and taking guitar and piano lessons, and I also started trying my hand at producing music. I actually haven’t recorded anything since quarantine started – I’ve written new songs but nothing recorded yet. My creative process usually is to work with producers and make stuff from scratch but with everything going on I have more or less had to take a pause on recording and focus more on doing things I didn’t have time for before coronavirus (BC). I’m also doing more songwriting, just trying to get better and do better because I don’t think we will get this free time again. I want to be as productive as possible.
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On her Quarantine Games
I think one thing a lot of people don’t know about me is that I am very playful and a kid at heart, I love playing all kind of games and I’m a big fan of word games and Sudoku. I thought this would be a great time for any artist to tie up loopholes; that could be with your fans. I was thinking of ways to connect with my fans that didn’t involve going on IG live cause that’s what hot atm. So the whole idea for the quarantine games was to get my database of fans up, so I could know what the numbers are like and try to engage with them. Because I feel like people connect with my music but because I am such a private person, they don’t really know much about me.
I google-searched a bunch of tools that could help me create word search games or crossword games and just things that could get people’s brains working and I created the games based on titles from my songs and yeah, I used that as a medium to send out emails and just gain more fans. The fastest marketing tool that’s free is definitely word of mouth because the number of people engaging with my games kept increasing. People did really engage, so its really cool to see they’re interested in me and what I have to offer and I’m happy to be a reason why they were entertained at this time. It has made my fans and I connect more, because in the emails I send out, I try to give a little advice to encourage them. A few people said they were hard, but I made some a little difficult on purpose. I hope to do more of that in the near future.
On her upcoming single, “Nowhere to Run”
The song is about forgetting who you are at some point, and eventually working through things and rediscovering your power and your strength in your weakness and just remembering that whatever the situation you are going to get through it. It’s called “Nowhere to Run”, and it’s ironic cause I mean we actually don’t have anywhere to run physically and mentally at the moment. Mentally, we will always get stuck with our thoughts and we can do things to distract ourselves in the meantime but no matter how far you run, and how much you distract yourself from what it is, you’re always going to come back to that problem. The best way is to work through it. You know how when you put a mentos in a Coke bottle, it explodes? That’s how it will be if you keep things bottled in.
On why she’s choosing to release music now
We are all collectively stuck at home, which could translate into a lot of things and that could be hard for some and easy for others. It may have an effect on the people who are used to moving around a lot and being in control, which has now been taken away and this ties into like fear and mental health. The song is basically about losing yourself and basically rediscovering your power. In conversations I have had with friends nowadays, I think this period is a time to self-reflect and just figure yourself out and if there’s anything you always wanted to do it, now is the time to do it. If there is stuff you need to heal from then now is a good time to turn inwards because like I said before, we don’t know when next we get this free time.
You will hear that the song sounds like a soundtrack for a movie, its cause it was a demo I wrote for Beyoncé’s Lion King: The Gift album. It’s inspired by Lion King, and I think the message in the song is really powerful so I thought no better time than now to spread the positivity. That’s always my goal, to put a smile on someone’s face through connecting through my music. I hope the song makes someone feel better about themselves, the song is just every positive affirmation you can think of.
One thing she loves, likes and hates.
One thing I love right now is how much I am learning and how productive I have been. In a normal setting, there are so many distractions so this is great.
One thing I like is staying home, which I love ordinarily but now I am able to spend time with my family and I really like that.
One thing I hate is not being in control. I know that God is control and I am always trying to teach myself to let go and let God. Not knowing what is coming next is kind of annoying, I know that regardless of whether I am in control or not, God’s plan is the best. I hope we’re all here to experience the good things after this.
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Featured image credits/instagram:damioniru
Tami is living in a black mirror episode and can’t seem to wake up. Tweet your fave female artistes at her @tamimak_