Sotonye Jane Pepple, also known as Soti, comes across as confident, daring and one who knows how to get your attention with not just her music but her style.
As she made her way into the interview room, her gaze was fixated like an athlete who had one chance at the prize and she was determined to not let it slip.
Wearing a smile, Soti shared her experiences in the industry, the inspiration behind her breakthrough single, ‘Eko’ and her deal with Effyzie Music Records.
On what inspired her choice of Falz on the remix of the song ‘Eko’
”I actually had Olamide and Falz in mind, but I didn’t know how to get in touch with any one of them, then Falz made a comment on my Instagram page, quoting the lines of the original song, so I reached out and he came through for me.
Speaking on the inspiration behind the song, ”I moved to Lagos like two years ago from Abuja, and it is a totally different place from there.
Lagos is very fast and I found it quite difficult to adapt at first, so coming to Lagos made me kind of double my hustle, and I decided to put my experience on the song. It is a song that If I had my way, I will call it ‘Hustlers Anthem.”
How is the reaction to ‘Eko’?
”It has been amazing, I was a bit scared before the record dropped because a lot of people said to me it was not really going to be a hit, but a lot of other people also said yeah, it is, and deep down in my heart, I felt it was the one.
It came with a different vibe and in an industry as tough as the Nigerian industry, you have to stand out, I took a risk with the song and from the reception, I have to say it has been worth it.”
Before ‘Eko’, I had put out like four singles, but everywhere I went to, I always had to introduce myself and it was a bit sad, but ‘Eko’ has changed that for me and that is why I refer to the song as my ‘baby.” she says.
The artist who studied Business Economics in the UK returned home and began working with the likes of producer GospelOnDeBeatz in Abuja before making the move to Lagos to fully kickstart her music career.
”Everybody was saying, to make it in the music industry, you have to be in Lagos. I was a bit unsure, I didn’t have anything to actually bring me down to Lagos, because before then I had only been to Lagos once, for a wedding, and then I got contacted by Mr Taiye Aliyu of Effyzie Music and he said I should come over and that was how I came to Lagos.”
In 2016, Effyzie Music announced the signing of their newest artist, Soti, and we asked if she was still a member of the label;
”No,” She says, ”Nothing happened, there was no harsh break-ups or anything, I just felt it was time to move on, I am cool with them.”
How is life as an independent artist?
”It has been really crazy, working with Effyzie made me pretty strong because you had to hustle on your own, so I learnt that I didn’t have to wait for anybody to do stuff for me, it has been tough but I have been enjoying it because it is what I am passionate about.”
On if the success of former label mate Yemi Alade serves as an inspiration to her music
”Yemi is quite successful and there are other successful female artists. All these women serve as an inspiration to me and I feel like I can actually do as much as them. I see myself as number one in what I do.
Defining her sound, she states, ”My sound is Afro-Pop, I see myself as my own competition, success for me is being better than I was the last time, so I don’t compare to Yemi Alade or anyone. Nobody can do Yemi or Tiwa Savage better than they themselves.”
Highlighting the male and female imbalance in the industry
”I feel like recently there are a lot more women actually standing up in the industry, speaking up more and I think we need to cancel that notion that women are always against each other.
As opposed to seeing each other as threats, we need to come together and actually support each other. Africa is a patriarchal society clearly in favour of men and women need to come together to make things better.”
”Music is something I always wanted to do, I would actually sneak out of school to go do music. Sometimes I would have to lie that I had lessons in school on Saturday, just to go to the studio.
I always knew I wanted to take it up as a career, but when I went to the UK for my A Levels, I knew I had to make my education also. I had to explain to my parents that all I wanted to do was performing acts, so I ended up taking Business Economics as a course. And while I was in school, music had to take a backseat.”
What is next for Soti?
”Right now the plan is to drop a couple of singles just to build my fan base so that people will know that there is a Soti in the industry and then maybe an EP next year.
On what has kept her going in the industry
”There is a lot of things that have kept me going, one is I feel like this is what I know how to do best, two is I have a lot of people to prove wrong, it is a motivating factor for me and the passion, it is what I have always wanted to do.”
On the rise of Afrobeats globally, ”I feel like our authenticity is what is working for us and we need to stick to it”, she added.
She rounds up with the message she always wants anyone to take away from her music, ”Good music, you can listen to it and say maybe it is not your type of music, but I don’t want people to ever say the music is not good.”
The interview has been edited for clarity