At just 26, the Nigerian DJ just can't stop rising.
A DJ, music producer, songwriter, entrepreneur, oh and Economics Kings College graduate, Cuppy is a polymath of new proportions. At 18, Florence Ifeoluwa Otedola was touring the world with her own signature style, taking on decks everywhere from Lagos to London, New York to New Mexico: curating a neo-Afrobeats vibe, DJ Cuppy brings a vibrant mix of cultures and genres together seamlessly. From filling dancefloors to doing good, the impassioned star was recently announced as a Global Citizen Education Ambassador, ensuring her philanthropic efforts are on par with her musical ones. Undoubtedly encompassing what a HUNGER Muse should be, we caught up with Cuppy to find out how she’s brought her signature spins to the masses, and where she’s heading to next…
How did you find launching your career in Nigeria?
Nigeria is my home and truly my comfort zone, I couldn’t think of a better place to kick off the Cuppy journey! Starting in Lagos has kept me grounded to my roots, especially in a profession that takes me across the world. I’ve always had a love for music, but I never would have thought it would end up as a possible career; no-one could have told me I’d be speaking to HUNGER Magazine now as a global brand. I’m so thrilled and feel extremely blessed, it’s a long way from when I was a child, playing the piano in my room in Lagos.
Lagos has such a rich culture, how did growing up there affect your creativity and ideas?
Lagos is truly the most exciting city in the world. There is so much to soak up all around you. Nigerian culture is embedded in me – fearlessness, ambition, and stubbornness are all characteristics I’ve picked up in my environment. We Nigerians can’t take no for an answer and we certainly would never shrink our dreams!
How does it feel to be in the music industry at a time when the Afrobeat movement is becoming more prevalent by the day? Is it exciting to share this sound universally?
Gosh, what a time to be alive! There has been a revolution. Not just in the UK, but around the world. It’s phenomenal how Afrobeats is taking over. Afrobeats is going from strength to strength it’s so beautiful to watch and even better to be part of it! I remember when clubs used to say no Afrobeats allowed! Haha, times have changed! In 2019 I can only see more fusion records and collaborations. Afrobeat artists are taking things to the next level. One of my favourite projects to work on is my resident party, Cactus on the Roof, which specialises in tropical Afrobeats in the UK. I’ll tell you, it’s a SHUT DOWN cause everyone wants to party with Nigerians! We literally have a spotlight on us right now and all our stars are shining bright, it’s been a long time coming and I don’t think it’s going anywhere.
You studied Economics at Kings College and New York University, how did that experience compare to your other world?
As a student, I really did feel like I was living a double life. Student by day, DJ by night! Juggling was often difficult, sometimes I would have to do essays backstage at shows… Somehow (with very little sleep) I pushed through! I would never trade my degrees for anything.
How do you prepare for a night of DJing?
Now, after being a professional DJ for so many years I’ve created this EPIC pre-show ritual- Get a brief from my management, then make sure my playlist is ready earlier on in the day, sort out my outfit, back my DJ bag, go through my show checklist, then do 10 minutes meditation before I hit the road running!
Who are some of your biggest inspirations?
You know, I’ve always been a sponge- soaking up inspiration from everyone I meet. Certainly, I’ve been lucky enough to rub shoulders with some of the most famous people in the world, but I always try to understand their passions. Passion is essential to inspire. Spending time with people always makes me fall in love with music again.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Honestly, starting the Cuppy Foundation. The Cuppy Foundation is an organisation that is created out of pure passion. I have always felt that I’ve been able to live my dreams because someone gave me a chase, with that said I also feel the need to provide chances for others. My experience with education has allowed me to become a young, confident woman. I believe that knowledge is power and the Cuppy Foundation is there to provide those most vulnerable in African societies with access to education so that they too can live their dreams.
What’s the most memorable DJ job you’ve done so far?
For me, there’s nothing like serving your country with what you do. I had the honour of DJing for the Nigerian Presidential Inauguration, certainly a gig I will never forget!
If you could summarise a night with you on the decks in three words, what would they be?
Vibrant, Unique, And Unpredictable!
What would be your dream gig to DJ?
I would LOVE to DJ at Buckingham Palace for the Royal Family!
Who is your ultimate style icon and why?
My mother, Nana Otedola! My style is very, very, I would say experimental chic. You know, it’s a bit girly, it is a bit street and I feel like it really depends on how I am feeling where am at. You know, I used to wear lots of Ankara which is an amazing African design… I have come to a place where I can make sure whatever I do I am comfortable. Being a female DJ as well, I get to be versatile.
What’s up next for you?
Well the future is bright for Cuppy… I’ve just begun my journey, and I am ready to take the world! I believe that time waits for no one; chase your dreams no matter what! I’m still on an experimental path, but whatever I settle for, I hope to have made a difference, inspired others and changed the rules! This year I’d love to release an EP. I would love to come out with my own strong debut body of work with amazing records and great collaborations. I really, really want to show the world what I am made of!
Follow Cuppy on Instagram here now.
7 February 2019