For many music lovers, the name Apampa Owolabi Oluwadamilola popularly called Dammy Twitch in the Nigerian music industry may not ring a bell. But his works with leading Nigerian A-list artists such as Burnaboy, Davido, Olamide, Dremo, Falz, Lil Kesh, Victor AD, Preto Show (Angila), Perruzi, and Mayorkun, among others, surely made him a top-notch highly sort-after professional in the music video sector of the Nigerian entertainment industry.
Born and bred in Ibadan, Oyo state, though his parents are from Ogun state, Damilola would be 24 years old on October 27 this year. He attended Redeemers Secondary School and moved on to TAIDOB College to complete his senior secondary education before later graduating from the Redeemers University with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics.
Starting off early
“I started playing with photography in 2013 and while at it, I met a lady who was quite impressed and she helped me get some paid gigs. From then, I started getting gigs for burials and events photography; that’s how the hustle started paying early,” he told Daily Trust.
He said while doing photography, he was also playing with video editing and by 2017, he did some works with Director Q as an editor. “By the end of 2017, I kicked off full-on in music video production with my personal brand. As I started, I began actively seeking opportunities to make more and more content,” he said.
“When I started doing this full time as a business, I tried registering ‘Visuals by Twitch’ but the name was rejected by the Corporate Affairs Commission. After retrying, we got D-Twitch. But we are now Polar Films, which is the mother company that will house a much larger business,” he added.
A foray into music video production
The 23 years old music director said his parents where very much interested in getting him a job in the field of Economics, “but I had other interests. Everyone kept feeling like they were doing me a favour because they were getting me jobs I never wanted,” he said.
He added: “So, when I graduated, I kept training and taking any gig I got (whether it paid little or not), basically because I wanted to keep improving the level of work I could put out.”
“I would say directing and video editing. I love cinematography but I’m not keen about carrying cameras. I’d rather direct the video shoot and then sit for post-production. I also play the role of Director of Photography and get to carry the camera sometimes. But my core strengths are in directing and editing,” he narrated.
Looking back, Damilola opined that he has done photography; been a video editor and then a DoP. “I started out with video editing. While at school, I would edit videos on my phone and then proceed to learn what more I could do editing on a (computer) system,” he said.
He continued: “Now, I direct, oversee and execute the production process and I am particular and very hands-on on post-production. So, I personally now see to the final output. I now work with a team that takes up different parts of the process from pre-production to post.”
He told Daily Trust that his works are inspired by the works of other big-time music directors such as Dave Meyers, Director X, and Meji Alabi among others.
Working with A-list artists
According to the Economics graduate, the first music video he shot was for Burna Boy and Yonda in 2017.
“That same year, I was in Senegal and Davido called me to shoot a video for his label, which was Aje. I did that in Senegal. So far, I have worked with quite a number of artists. I’ve worked with Falz, Burnaboy, Olamide, Dremo, Lil Kesh, Victor AD, Preto Show (Angila), Perruzi, Mayorkun, and others,” he said.
Some of the works he has done include: Wonder Woman by Davido; Bumbum by Davido and Zlatan; Aje by Davido (DMW); On God by Davido; Red Handed by Dremo, Mayorkun and Peruzzi; Majesty by Peruzzi; Ringer by Dremo; Loving by Falz; Bigger Meat by Dremo; and Taya by Mayorkun etc.
For most industry players in the entertainment industry, it has often been from grass to grace story. But for Damilola, it has been a journey from grace to grace since he kicked off full time on the scene over two years ago.
“Budget is always a conversation. Sometimes you finish a gig and do not have much to show for it in terms of profit, but we keep it moving. The more I work, the luckier I get,” he opined.
More importantly, his biggest worry has been meeting up with clients’ demands for international standard. “We also aren’t evolving as fast as our counterparts in the United States. In order to push myself, I have pushed to work with big international labels and trust me, it has been a whole different experience,” he noted.
He said that despite their intimidating requirements, “this experience showed me that we have a long way to go as an industry. It also got me to up my game and to keep doing that. I have gone on to work on projects with Sony Music, Warner Music and I am currently working on a project with Universal Music. I have had to learn really fast to meet their requirements. I’m happy this makes me push myself all the time.”
Thoughts on Nollywood
The Economist-turned music director, asserted that Nollywood – the Nigerian film industry – “has grown really fast within a short time frame.”
According to him, movies have a longer project timeframe, bigger budget and serve a whole different purpose from music videos.
“I applaud Nollywood directors that are pushing the limits and doing things that haven’t been done before now. Budgets have to be improved generally if we must match our peers at Hollywood and a lot more support has to be given to all video content producers. We all will keep doing our bit to drive the African narrative through entertaining content,” he opined.
Advice for industry players
Damilola lamented on the low level of collaboration among directors and producers, saying there is unnecessary competition between music video directors, “when in fact, we should be collaborating to improve the output of Nigerian music video content.”
While calling for more collaboration among artists and music directors cum support for the music industry, he said people should begin to see that videos go beyond just movies.
“While that is not a bad thing, we should also consider that music is one of the biggest means through which Nigeria exports culture and we video producers/directors are responsible for crafting the visuals that make this music more appealing,” he said.
He also charged music artists to budget more monies for distribution and promotion, adding that releasing great music isn’t enough until more people see what you’ve done.
“Our people don’t spend on distribution/promotion. If you spend X amount on content creation, you need to spend double on promotion. That’s what most artists and labels don’t get. If you do great works, you should spend double your budget on distribution. Distribution is a key aspect of the growth you aim for as an artist,” he counselled.
Tuning the vibes…
“We have only just started,” he said succinctly in a chat with Daily Trust.
“In five years, my company should have moved the world’s expectation in the video content production landscape.
“We look to do movies too but not immediately. We would like to have achieved specific landmarks in music video production before we venture that way and it really is happening fast,” he submitted.