Creator Spotlight: How Bamy Wormed Her Way Into the Nigerian Entertainment Scene

January 21, 2023

I’m Bamise. I was born and bred in Lagos; Bariga, to be precise. I was literally born in the house I live in. On my street, they call me ‘Burna girl’. I think that’s because of my fashion style. Today, I almost had a food coma from pounded yam, and I’m a Capricorn.

Food coma? Wow. How would you describe what you do? 

I actually do a bunch of things. I’ve gotten tired of saying I’m a writer when there’s more to it. So I sat down and decided “creative industry entrepreneur” is the best way to describe myself. For the most part, I just sell my ideas. 

What’s the best idea you’ve sold so far?

The articles I wrote for NotJustOk. I’ve had some really standout ones. In 2020, I did a listicle titled “Seyi Vibez, Bella Shmurda and Other Street Pop Artists You Should Know”. While everyone else was unsure of Wizkid’s Made in Lagos, it was one of the few projects I ever reviewed. I wrote that it was a really good album and a perfection of his career output so far.

One of the coolest things you do is your “Fit check” videos

For the longest time, I’ve felt that while I’m not rich in wealth, I’m rich in friends. People who know me just know I like fashion, so they end up giving me stuff. Like right now, I’m wearing a pair of white shades my colleague gave me for Secret Santa. People helped build my wardrobe, and I’m always conscious of that because I remember where I got everything from. My love language is getting fly shit. When I get dressed sometimes, I realise the only thing I bought with my money was my underwear, or something crazy like that.

Are any of your fashion items more special or sentimental than the rest?

I also have a pair of pink crocs I named “Flacko” after ASAP Rocky, ‘cause in A$AP Mob’s Yamborghini High video, he wore this pink bathrobe. It made me realise pink is such a cool colour, and ever since then, I’ve been a big fan of pink. Flacko has been my ride-or-die since 300 level. They were actually famous in UI because when you see pink crocs, you know it’s for Bamy. I always used to post them and just wear them everywhere. I don’t wear the crocs now though; they’re just somewhere in the house. 

Well, I think crocs are supreme. So you know what, I get it 

 Thank you.

What are some basics you think everyone should have in their wardrobe, as somebody who doesn’t actually get half of their stuff themself?

I’m starting to get stuff myself. I’ve been thrifting a lot since 2022 to build a wardrobe that feels like me. 

I want to say cargo pants, but I don’t know if there’s an age limit to this. I’ll say denim jackets because they fly and pair well with literally anything. If you’re like me and you get cold easily then, denim jackets and Oxford shirts. If you’re at a party, denim jackets might be a bit heavy, so an Oxford shirt because you can tie them around your waist and wear them later when you feel a bit cold. They’re really great for mutable fashion. Also, sunshades. I don’t understand how people don’t wear shades. People say shades don’t fit them, but it’s just a matter of understanding what type of shades work for your face. 

But doesn’t it feel embarrassing to be scared of the sun

When I turned 16, I had to travel with my mum and I needed shades, so she helped me choose the pair that worked best. I’ve been wearing shades ever since. I never really got people not liking shades, like why are you subjecting yourself to the harsh glare of the sun? For me, it’s not even a fashion accessory. 

And fashion irks?

One of my fashion irks is those thin slippers I see babes wear. I get that it’s part of the rich aunty aesthetic, but I see girls wearing them in the rainy season and I’m like, “Water could splash on you, and you might have to wade through a flood”. That’s why comfy and chunky slides should be essential.

Fair. What are your rules for thrifting? 

I’m not the best person at bargaining. It stresses me out because how will I know the price? I like to work based on my value of things and do some research. If I think it’s worth a certain price, and you call a crazy amount, It won’t work. I found one really good thrift store, ‘Retro Addicts’, and since then, the Instagram algorithm keeps bringing more my way.

For my rules, I ask myself if I can see myself wearing it more than once. Also, boots are a heavy standard for me. I call my aesthetic “super rager girlfriend”. So I ask myself, “Can I wear this with my boots or any other pair of shoes?” If I think I’m being too impulsive, I come back the next day. The boots thing actually helps me create outfits that feel like me.

But the major thing is the mutability of the outfit. I ensure that I can style the outfit in different ways. Fashion isn’t necessarily about what you wear, but how you wear it. 

Created with RNI Films app. Preset ‘Agfa Optima 200 Warm’

How did you get so confident about your style?

I’m from a very conservative home, but I’ve always been very fashion-conscious. My mum would dress me in Deeper Life-type clothes, and I’d be unhappy as hell. It made me frown a lot because I never liked my outfits. It was crazier because my brothers used to wear like really fly shit gifted to them from my family friends, but the same people would conform to our conservative rules and send me dowdy ass clothes. So I felt cheated. 

In church, I didn’t talk to anybody besides my brothers. Immediately after, I’d go and sleep in the car ‘cause I didn’t want anybody to see me. Eventually, I realised I didn’t have any friends, which affected me. One time, I designed a poll about how people perceived me, but I never gave it to anybody to fill it out. I just decided you know what, fuck this. I don’t make the rules. I’ll just rock my shit like that and try to frown less. 

I spent all my life wearing things I didn’t want, but when I got into uni, I could start dressing as I wanted. I actually had to hard-wire confidence into myself. So now, I don’t care how ridiculous you think my outfit is. I like it, and that’s all that matters. I don’t care about what you, your grandma or granddad thinks. Once I can get out of the house with it, and the people outside see me? Mission accomplished. For me, every outfit is a reality I’m living. 

Explain that

The biggest example is when I went to an only women’s fest in 2021 in this mesh dress. I don’t think I’d ever even worn it before that, but I thought it would be nice to have my titties out, so I wore it that way. I knew it would be a safe space where I could get away with a risque outfit. Now, every other place I’ve gone, I layer it as a top even. But in that moment when I wore the mesh dress and nothing else, I was living the reality of that dress as the ultimate bad bitch attire. 

Well, you can wear that dress again to Zikoko’s Hertitude. It’s a safe space for women

I’m bigender. My pronouns are she/he/they. But I don’t enforce it because you technically can’t misgender me. It’s just irritating when my profile photo is clearly femme, and you say, “Good afternoon, sir”. For me, my pronouns should align with how I am presenting at that moment. When I’m wearing a cool, hard-ass, steal-your-girl-type outfit, and then, some guys are like “damsel”. I’m like, “Who are you talking to?” So that’s the thing about living the reality of the outfits. I’ve always been androgynous, and the biggest expression of that is my fashion.

You also work as a producer on Taymesan’s podcast. What’s that like as a young person?

The creative industry is actually a young industry if you look around you, so I don’t think there’s anything crazy about my age and the work I’m doing. There’s tons of young people doing kick-ass shit right now. For Tea with Tay, before I was his producer, I was actually his assistant for a year, then he needed a fresher approach to his podcast, and I was down for the challenge because I like to align my interest and my passion with my job. If the job doesn’t interest or excite me, I can’t do it. 

What did you do differently to make him keep you on? 

I’ve just been more hands-on. So far, I’ve put out eight episodes, so it’s still a new experience for me. For the first few months, that was just me getting clarity. Now, I’m taking a new approach to the content and how things are rolled out. We introduced a new segment called “Spill The Tea”, and that’s been fun. 

As much as the creative industry is young, the scene is very much “who you know”. So when did you start putting yourself out there? 

I’ve just always been an expressive person. So I guess without even saying anything, people just always thought of me as a creative. I studied English at the University of Ibadan. Along the line, I worked as a ghostwriter. Then after NYSC, I got a job as a writer, but the pay was not it at all. After a while, I started seeing Linkedin profiles with all these high-achieving corporate people, and I’d feel a tinge of jealousy. I didn’t understand it because I know I’m not trying to climb the ranks in the corporate world. So I started to tell my friends about jobs I wanted to do; they were creatives as well. One of them, Jimmy — I always joke that I’ll build him a statue one day — was already more established in the creative industry, so he plugged me on to “Notjustok’’, and since then, I’ve just been blossoming.  

What influences everything you do? 

How passionate I am about it or how much it excites me.

What if the money is good, but you’re not passionate about it? 

I can’t work in a bank, for instance, even if the pay is crazy. I quit writing for ‘Notjustok’ earlier this year because I’m not as passionate about writing. Passion and money go hand-in-hand like a handshake because, at the same time, I can’t do free work where I am. YKB’s Oshofree has actually been my mantra since the beginning of 2022. 

Will you ever write again?

I need to reconnect with it and just that part of me that’s passionate about writing without having to be paid for it. Capitalism ruined my first love. 

I wish you good luck with that. How do you unwind?

I just sleep. All my friends know I don’t really watch movies because it takes me like a million years to hyperfocus on it. I’ve also been exploring dining out with friends, but for the most part, I sleep, even when I shouldn’t be sleeping. 

What are your favourite Nigerian designers? 

I’m bigender. So, I really like TJWHO’s androgynous but clean designs. They have a really masculine edge to their femme designs. It’s like masc. and avant-garde at the same time — very slim cut, sharp. I love it. Then, Tokyo James, I think, for similar reasons and just how they work with fabric. It’s very exciting and groundbreaking. Then Tubo Reni, I think her sculpting skills are next to none, and what she did with Tiwa Savage on the Water and Garri tour was impressive. Tiwa actually wore Fendi and Versace throughout. I think Tubo Reni was the only Nigerian brand she wore .

Do you have any plans to create your own fashion pieces? 

I’ve been designing since I was a kid, but imposter syndrome hit me really early. I’ve just decided to go to a proper fashion school to learn. I went to Queen’s College, and they had a clothing and textile course. I did that from SS 1 to 3. I want to go to a proper fashion school and maybe start designing for myself first and see where it goes from there. I worked with a bunch of stylists last year, and before that, I actually styled one of my friends for his video shoot. I worked as a styling intern in 2022. I’m obsessed with getting experience. I don’t appreciate being in a place where I second-guess myself. But because I’m busy with my other passions that pay me money, I  haven’t found time to give it as much attention.

 What are the other passions that pay you money? 

I work as a content lead for WeTalkSound. I’ve always wanted to be in a space where I share ideas and see them through till the execution point, and I’m very passionate about music, so that’s me bringing two of my passions together. I also work as Artiste and Label Relations Manager for Gojë Distro. I get to be an active part of the music distribution process. For Taymesan, I’ve always wanted to work with someone with a level of access to resources that I don’t have because it’s just a really good learning ground. I get to interact with vast minds, vast talents. 

Favourite career moments? 

Working as a content lead has been very rewarding. It’s something I’d always dreamed of doing. We made a viral post recently, and I know it’s hard to replicate, but we’ve grown so much, and the difference is clear. In 2021, I wrote a timeline of the alté subculture and sound. I spoke to Douglas Jekan for the interview, and he gave me a shout-out for the work I was doing. I listened to him a lot when I was in secondary school and he was actually my window to the alternative music scene in Nigeria. So this was a personal crowning moment for me. 

What are your favourite parts about being a creative industry entrepreneur?

The freedom. The fashion freedom. You see me pressing my phone, but I’m actually restlessly working. I could be working on a news report, putting a Canva design together or reviewing a content idea. I also love that I get to cover shows, from music listening parties to concerts. 

What do you want to do in the next couple of years? 

If I’m still alive. 

This is why I don’t like you Gen Z people 

I mean, we have to be honest. But I want to own a creative agency to build ideas from scratch that help people in the entertainment world. Do you need to bring a show to life, or a concept, we can help. People don’t understand things like how powerful a good copy is, how to sell things, how immersive concerts make people want to come back for another edition the next year, or even an artist’s social media branding, from how they dress to how they text. A creative agency helps people in the industry to take concrete ideas and execute them. 

I also want to get into headhunting, to look out for people with a second class or even dropouts. I think I’d be great at this because when people need talent, they always come to me. I always look within my community before looking outside ‘cause it’s just always better to refer people you know firsthand can do the work. Down the line, I’d like to make headhunting an even wider reach for the creative and tech spaces. I’m not sure if I should be sharing this much, before somebody steals my idea. 

If they steal it, we’ll fight. Can’t wait for your creative agency, maybe we’d finally have musicians who give me something outside of their music, which is great, but like, I want to connect with you

As Nigerians, we’re actually very big on personality. We love big personalities. If you’re not selling us a personality that’s larger than life, your brand will actually suffer. 

Very, very true. How would you describe your personality?

I’ve never thought about my personality, but someone called me a “crackhead rockstar”. I protested at first, but I think it’s apt. 

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