"The best piece of advice I ever got from a musician was from Peruzzi. In perruzi's voice, "Liya, don't let anybody tell you anything, you're doing well, you're unique, you have to just know yourself and stay true to that, that way you can keep making good music, just do you".
Liya's career in music is one solely influenced by her background. However, Liya did not realize how much influence her environment had rubbed on her music career until 3 years ago when she realised that all the beautiful music and chants she heard from the church actually had an influence on the way she sings.
The young superstar is currently signed to one of Nigeria's notable record label owned by Davido. She popular referred to as the 'First Lady' of Davido's DMW label as the first and only female at the time of this interview to be signed to to record label.
Despite being talented, like most public figures, she faces unsolicited criticism and wild comments that can be deterring. Yet, she keeps going.
In this interview, she shares one of the best advice she has received which has kept her on her toes and helped her scale through good and bad days in the industry. Knowing that whichever way, being the best version of herself supersedes all.
Can we get to know you formally, Who is Liya and what’s the inspiration behind the name?
My full name is Abdulsalam Suliyat Modasola. I was born into a conservative Muslim family. Liya was birthed from Suliyat basically, so I guess I can say I inspired my name.
How did you kickstart your music career? Would you say your background had an influence?
My music career, for me, started when I entered into the university, because then I felt the freedom to really pursue music. A defining moment for me was my first time in a music studio booth. I was so nervous and excited. I remember they played a random beat and right there on the spot I sang a cover to Rihanna Stay and everyone loved it. At that point I think everyone knew that was the start of something great for me.
Yes, I'd also say my background definitely had an influence on my music now. Growing up, I spent a whole lot of time in Arabic classes where we did a lot of music. Right beside my house was a celestial Church, it wasn't until two years ago when I realised that all the beautiful music and chants I heard from the church actually had an influence on the way I sing.
Let’s talk about your latest EP “Alari”. What inspired this and what message are you trying to pass across with your music?
Alari was my grandma's name. I was named after her. It means 'she that is so separate', it means to be different, to stand out. If you listened to Alari, you'd observe that it had a high spiritual energy. Alari was inspired by my desire to send people a message that it is okay to be vulnerable and scared, it is ok to pray. I wanted people to be able to look back at where they've been and where they are now and appreciate growth even if they are not where they want to be yet. Alari's message was for people to feel good and proud of their origin, of themselves.
Is there a major artist you would like to feature in your next single or collaborate with?
Yes of course, internationally that would be Angelique Kidjo, I've been listening to her since I was a kid. But locally, It would be Simi and Niniola. I already have a project with Simi, a remix of one of my songs, Adua you guys go check it out. Next is Niniola,better watch out girl cos I'm coming for you.
What is the biggest problem you have encountered in the journey of music?
Hmm, I would not say it's been all smooth sailing but I have been lucky enough to not have encountered a really big problem that I could not surpass. So nothing worthy of note right now.
What’s the best piece of advice another musician ever gave you?
The best piece of advice I ever got from a musician was from Peruzzi. In perruzi's voice, "Liya, don't let anybody tell you anything, you're doing well, you're unique, you have to just know yourself and stay true to that, that way you can keep making good music, just do you". So yeah, I listened to that and I just try to always be the best version of myself and hope everyone else just likes it.
Which skills have you gained that help you perform effectively as a musician?
I wouldn't particularly call it a skill, more of a personality trait I have. I love to learn and I learn fast, I pick on things a lot and I'm able to incorporate that with my music. I'd say that has been very helpful to me with my music.
"I wanted people to be able to look back at where they've been and where they are now and appreciate growth even if they are not where they want to be yet."
What accomplishments do you see yourself attaining in the next 5 to 10 years?
Oh, I love this question. Very importantly, I want to still be doing the music. I plan on having my own concerts, running my own shows by that time. I'm also very into fashion, and by that time, I plan to become a staple in the fashion industry.
Is there any music style you don’t like? What are your thoughts on the new rave of afrobeats in the world right now?
I don't like?Absolutely not, I love all genres and styles of music that I've heard and listened to even the weird sounds. I might be partial to some more than others but none that I haven't liked.
I'm so proud of afrobeats right now, so proud to be a Nigerian. The world is in love with afrobeats right now, they're craving for it and it's just amazing to see our craft being appreciated all over the world. We can only get bigger from here and I'm loving it.
“My advice would honestly be the same thing peruzzi said to me, find yourself, stay true to that, remain humble but smart, but most of all, try to enjoy what you do, don't let people suck out all the joy from your passion, learn from the mistakes of others, not just yourself."
What was your first music teacher like? What lessons did you learn from them that seem valuable till date?
I never really had a music teacher, the closest thing I had to music lessons in school were lessons on the type of songs in the Quran. Music is more of a self taught thing for me.
Tell us about your best and worst performance?
Okay so it was a two-in-one experience. I had just dropped a cover of Lady Gaga Never Again from the movie A Star Is Born. I was set to perform the song at my school's award night. I was wearing this beautiful dress, my friend helped me out with everything. I was so nervous because it was an R&B soulful kind of song, you know it's not exactly the kind of songs Nigerians like to hear. I was literally shivering, so I started singing and in less than one minute into the performance, the lights went out. It was so awkward but I was kind of relieved because I thought that was the end of the performance but then the lights came back on and the people started screaming that they wanted me back on stage. I was so stunned but it really boosted my confidence, so I got back up on stage and performed and it was beautiful. Oh and I got an award too.
Do you have any upcoming projects for your fans, such as an EP or an album?
I do have upcoming projects, but what the fans are going to see first is a single. I'm gonna keep you guys guessing on if we're going to have an EP or an album.
How do you deal with negative criticisms and what advice would you give to someone who just started a music career?
I'm not going to lie, it used to get to me, I used to get emotional over the negative things people would say, it got to a point where I used to get anxious about posting. I had to stop reading the comments but now sometimes, I just go there to read and see what people are saying and I appreciate the positive and good comments. But I learned and I adapted. Some people are just always going to be mean, you'd be surprised at how many people fake being haters just so you can respond to them and they feel good about themselves. People can literally just hate you for being you, so you might as well be you as much as you can and enjoy it.
My advice would honestly be the same thing peruzzi said to me, find yourself, stay true to that, remain humble but smart, but most of all, try to enjoy what you do, don't let people suck out all the joy from your passion, learn from the mistakes of others, not just yourself.
How do you think young artists such as yourself can be further encouraged in the music industry?
I feel like everything happening with afrobeats right now is more than enough encouragement. People are recognizing and paying more attention to our music now, Nigerians accept different types of music and sounds now and there are various platforms people can put themselves out there. You can make a freestyle to a really dope beat and boom instant recognition. People just need to really put themselves out there.
"I'm so proud of afrobeats right now, so proud to be a Nigerian. The world is in love with afrobeats right now, they're craving for it and it's just amazing to see our craft being appreciated all over the world. We can only get bigger from here and I'm loving it."