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Pheelz Speaks On Growth, Working With Usher and Dream Collaborations


Source: Pheelz

When Pheelz worked as an in-house producer at Hit Factory, a studio in Ajao Estate, Lagos, all he had was the self-belief that he’d one day have big hits. About 10 years later, his 2022 single Finesse became the most Shazamed song of the year, he’s since performed at venues like the O2 and met legends like Dr. Dre.

His most recent stride is his collaboration with US music royalty Usher — a process that birthed “Coming Home” and “Ruin”; two songs on Usher’s latest album. “Coming Home”, produced and co-written by Pheelz, is the album opener and a fresher take on the pop-R&B sound that has kept Usher relevant for three decades. “Ruin” leans on amapiano and Pheelz delivers a moving second verse.

In this conversation, Pheelz recounts his electrifying synergy with Usher and the magic of making music together in the same space.

How did the linkup with Usher happen?

In 2023, my A&R, Marc Byers took me to a studio owned by L.A Reid — Usher’s longtime friend, producer and business partner — to work on “Coming Home”, the title track of Usher’s new album. L.A Reid heard it when he walked into the studio. He lost his mind and thought it’d be great for Usher’s album, so he set the meeting up. Everything happened quickly from there. Next thing, I was in the studio with Usher.

Can you describe what it was like being in the studio with Usher?

An out-of-body experience. When Usher and I recorded the songs, they sounded just as incredible as we wanted them. It was wild to imagine I went from creating music in Gbagada to recording Usher and directing his vocals.

After L.A Reid heard “Coming Home”, how did you also get “Ruin” in the mix?

On the day we recorded “Coming Home”, I also played him and his team “Ruin”, which was a song I made with my South African artist-friend Manana while I was in South Africa in 2022. It was one of those moments in the studio where the energy in the air was just crazy. And then yeah, they said it needed to be on the album.

I’m asking for a friend. How did Warner Music become home?

Finesse blowing up attracted many record labels including Warner Music. They all brought their numbers and highlighted their achievements. But only Warner Music resonates with me.

Aside from Warner’s reputation as a giant music company, I chose to work with them because it’s a joint effort with them. We both want to figure things out and reach a goal. They’re not a label trying to boss over an artist. I have my artistic freedom and that gives me comfort. 

When you think of your trajectory, what are key moments you recognise and can say led you to where you are now?

Watching the choir’s performances in my dad’s church laid the foundation for my musical interests when I was around four years old. At 12, I taught myself how to play the keyboard and use production software like FruityLoops to make beats. Then, I gave my 20-track demo CD to Mayo Hunta, a veteran artist and producer and an acquaintance of my dad, to play for ID Cabasa. Cabasa liked it and asked if I’d be open to an internship at his label, Coded Tunes in Bariga.

I met Olamide at Coded Tunes — we were the studio rats. When we first worked together, it was for a song titled Owó (money). I had stolen Cabasa’s computer password and told Olamide we could work on our own when no one was around. We contributed money, bought fuel, worked overnight and deleted the files before Cabasa came in the morning. Subsequently, we made lots of songs and applied our knowledge and got better in the process. We had seen Banky W, 9ice and many big artists at that time record at Coded Tunes. We had tasted and felt greatness. We poured all we learned into ourselves.

After Coded Tunes, I worked as an in-house producer for 2204, a studio in Ajao Estate. I left Bariga, and Olamide and I only texted each other. By then, I had gotten my first official placement on his I’m Going In song, off the Rapsodi album.

One time after his exit from Coded Tunes, we chatted about working together again. By then, I had already moved from 2204 studio to Hit Factory, another studio in the estate. Olamide and I linked up again and made First of Al

l. I remember Olamide’s call the day after he released the song. He said, “I told you we got this shit.”

Did you ever see yourself making music at this global level?

I’ve always believed since I was young that music would take me to high places.

Back in Hit Factory, where I met Young Jonn in 2011, it was the same energy. Jonn and I always told each other at that time that we would sing, not only produce, and hit it big. It’s why our song Jelo means so much to us. We call each other sometimes and just geek about the song and its success. It’s a full-circle moment because that belief has always been there.

Who are your favourite collaborators?

Olamide.  After Finesse, I constantly travelled and we didn’t catch up for a year and half — Baddo was also busy running YBNL. We finally linked up in 2023 and made music from scratch like we did in the old days at Coded Tunes. Joy is the result of that process. I love working with Young Jonn, too. 

Who are your dream collaborators?

At home, I want to work with 2Baba and Burna Boy. I think Burna and I can hack a new level of sound. Internationally, I’m heavy on Beyoncé and Billie Eilish. I’d like to collaborate with Drake and Future as well. But if Jay-Z or Ed Sheeran sef come, no dulling. These collabs would be dreams come true.

Source: Pheelz

What upcoming artist excites you?

There’s a lady called Yimeeka. We’ve worked together on songs and her EP is coming out soon. I’m excited about her future.

What do you do when you aren’t on stage, in the studio or writing songs?

I’m writing or painting. I have six art collections that are currently for my eyes only. I like expressing myself through painting as much as I do with music. I’m into 3D animation and design as well— I produce my lyric videos myself. 

I’m also building a creative company called Rii Collective which I have now put Mr. Producer Inc, my event management company under. 

You previewed a song for the AFCON final in case Nigeria won. Unfortunately, we lost. What will happen to it now?

Omo, the second verse of that song is bad. I might drop it on Twitter one of these days.

What are you looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to my new single and tours this year. I’m also excited to reach out to the needy back home in Lagos through Pheelz Giving (my charity organisation). It’s my way of giving back to society and putting smiles on people’s faces with the provision of their needs, not just music. You know, Nigerians are going through hardship right now and we have to look out for each other.


Hey! The third episode of our Valentine Special out. We brought back two best friends to share how their relationship has evolved in the last five years. Watch below:


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