When Ed Sheeran won the Grammy early this year, all Ghanaians could think about was how Fuse ODG and Killbeatz were also fortunate to have won Grammys because they were also on that album. Turns out that they were not the only ones who won the Grammy.
We found the gentleman who played the guitar on the single, Bibia Be Ye Ye. Turns out he is not only Ghanaian but also a level 300 student of the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration.
Kuulpeeps.com spoke to Stephen Woode and he told us about his journey through the music industry and what winning a Grammy means to him and to his career.
Kuulpeeps: Let’s start with the most cliché question ever. What is your name and what do you do?
OTWoode: My full name is Stephen Woode but in the musical world I am known as OTWoode. I am in my late 20’s and a level 300 student at GIMPA studying Procurement Management.
Kuulpeeps: For someone who has “won” a Grammy you must have a lot of money. What did you receive as your award for the Grammy Ed Sheeran won?
OTWoode: Lol. Don’t put it like that. I received a certificate of participation and some undisclosed amount of money.
Kuulpeeps: How did all of this start in the first place? There was the option to learn how to play the piano or the drums, why the guitar?
OTWoode: I learnt how to play the guitar from my sister’s friend. It just came to me naturally, I don’t even know why. I am from a musical family. Everyone either sung or played an instrument and I had to fit in somehow and I was naturally drawn to the guitar so then I settled for that. At events, whenever I played, the remarks I got was that I played like an older person.
Kuulpeeps: At which point did you get commercial with it?
OTWoode: I started off by playing small gigs and some ‘shabo’. During that period, I met Akwaboah and through him, I played for Becca under Kiki Banson’s management. I was privileged to have played with the late Hugh Masekela, Mac Tonto, Samini, Daddy Lumba and a lot of other artists. I went to Takoradi Polytechnic now Takoradi Technical Universty and joined the ‘Western Diamonds’ band but the load of the music got so much so I deferred my course in school and joined the ‘Wind Afrique’ band and we travelled to the Netherlands.
Kuulpeeps: Did travelling change anything about your decision to go commercial with your playing of the guitar?
OTWoode: It actually didn’t do much like I expected it to. I played a couple of shows and then I decided to take a step back due to personal and financial reasons. The returns were very poor then. You practically did all the work but the artists always took the bulk of it. That was what informed my decision to come back and relook at what the future was for a guitarist in the music industry. When I got back, I started playing studio sessions and I worked with Kaywa and Killbeatz and through them, I worked with artists like R2Bees, Davido and many others. For me, this made me mature creatively and I was able to do music from a different perspective. It meant a whole lot to be part of a complete production and also know that without your part the whole production is not complete.
Kuulpeeps: Moving on to what could be described as the “peak” in your career, How did you end up as the solo guitarist on Ed Sheeran’s “Bibia Be Ye Ye?”
OTWoode: I have been working with Killbeatz and Fuse for a while now and one day I received a call from Killbeatz telling me Fuse was coming to town with Ed Sheeran and that he wanted to work on a couple of songs and that we would have to camp there for some intensive work. I was wondering who this Ed Sheeran guy was in the first place then I went to do my research and found out he was the one who sang Thinking out Loud. It must have been the greatest privilege for me because I heard that apparently, he was looking forward to working with me because he had heard a couple of my works. We worked on a lot of songs some of which will be released this year. I made a substantial amount of money obviously lol and he even gifted me the guitar he used to play “Boa Me”.
Kuulpeeps: How are you able to combine both school and your trade?
OTWoode: I love school and I love music so I make ample time for both. I don’t want to defer my course again so this time I am giving each the exact time that each of them needs.
Kuulpeeps: Any last words?
OTWoode: I think everyone should learn at least one instrument because it helps you process things differently and it also helps you release stress. I teach about 20 kids how to play the guitar and the feedback I get from their parents is amazing. Everyone must learn an instrument. It helps.
Kuulpeeps: Thank you for speaking to us OTWoode.
OTWoode: Thank you for having me.