DJ, entrepreneur, socialite, ambassador, princess, rich kid… Florence ‘Cuppy’ Otedola is a woman with many reputations. However, this little lady is too busy being a luxury world-traveller, meeting presidents and moguls, and spinning her decks in destinations such as Lagos, London, New York and Ibiza to notice.
Hard to believe that while doing this all, Cuppy still managed to graduate this summer with a Masters of the Arts (when did she have the time to study?!) AND write for the Huffington Post!
It is an exciting time for Cuppy. Projects are being lined up and now that school’s out, she is raring to get her manicured hands on every opportunity she can. I knew her itinerary would be getting out of control the next few months so I caught up with the beauty on a rooftop in the London sunshine. We nattered and chatted over a few G & Ts about Zuckerberg, the Kardashians, music and, of course, men…
Hi Cuppy! Long time
Hi TRUE Africa!
So how have you been? What have you been up to this summer?
I’ve been good! I have had one of the craziest summers of my life, between graduating from New York University, to moving to East London, to getting back in the studio. And also, in between all that, travelling to numerous countries and continents.
Where have been your favourite stops?
I have to say Ibiza. I know it’s cliché to say so, especially for a DJ, but I think Ibiza is one of those islands that always reinvents itself. I am a bit of a sponge and I like to pull inspiration from everywhere, so going there and seeing some of the world’s best DJs just makes me fall in love with what I do all over again.
I can imagine, plus the parties and getting no sleep too!
Getting no sleep, I’m working on that! But I also love going back home, back to Lagos and Nigeria and making time for that. It is always essential for me to go home.
Speaking of Lagos, you got to meet Marky Mark Zuckerberg! What was he like?
I did! That was amazing. Facebook, as we know, is such an innovative and great company. They are now looking towards the future of our continent and see how much our demographic is constantly growing.
I have never heard a non-African speak so passionately about Africa.
They see the amazing content we are producing and they are keen to get involved with the young people of Africa. So, I was in London and I got a call from Facebook…
Wait, does Facebook have a number? When you looked on your phone what did it say ‘Facebook Inc. calling’?
Haha! Something like that! They said that they had recently expanded their team and were interested in the positioning of my brand because I strive to be an advocate for young African creatives. They asked me to come to Lagos the next day to DJ. I was like ‘What? Okay!’ I had no idea that Zuckerberg would be there! He is one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met. I have never heard a non-African speak so passionately about Africa.
I saw he mentioned his new love for jollof rice
Oh he really got stuck in. I mean the guy went for a run on Lekki Bridge! I love it!
People can call me a ‘socialite’, I’ll call myself a ‘brand’
Okay, I know you are are DJ, you are a brand ambassador and you do a lot of entrepreneurial projects. However, you are often referred to as a ‘socialite’. Could you be the ‘Kim K of West Africa’? (Minus the sex tape of course!)
I actually love that you are saying Kim K. Most people think I am more like Paris Hilton! But I will take Kim! Nonetheless, Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton are both very hard-working individuals; but for me, I think the social aspect of my job comes from my personality and from the fact that I really don’t like being put in one box. That’s how creatives are, we use our craft to enter different worlds and sectors.
DJing and music are my loves and my passion, but that has led to amazing opportunities outside of it such as representing Nigeria in summits; going on tour across Africa giving talks; bonding with young girls; and being someone that – surprisingly to some – people actually look up to. People can call me a ‘socialite’, I’ll call myself a ‘brand’ and if I can use what I do to inspire people I’ll take it.
Hear hear! Speaking more about your brand, we have seen your face and your sister’s, plus mum and dad across our UK television screens recently – any chance of a reality tv show with team Otedola?
Not quite Team Otedela, maybe Team Cuppy… I have a new reality show, it comes out next month in October 2016 on Fox Africa and it’s called Cuppy Takes Africa. I’ve been working very tightly with Fox and my show is launching their new entertainment channel Fox Life on DSTV, so from Africa to the world!
Congratulations on your reality show, you are becoming the Kim K of West Africa for sure! Speaking of, is there a Kanye in your life at the moment?….
Haha! Well, I think my boyfriend is a little more shy than Kanye but yes I do have boyfriend. To be honest, it is tough and I think that any young woman who is so career driven will tell you that. Your job kinda sucks out the energy from you sometimes and affects not only your relationships or your love life but your friendships as well.
Date someone that is who as ambitious as you are.
I get home on a Friday night, all my friends are hanging out bowling, having drinks and I am like awww I have to go and get ready for work! I have made a lot of friends through what I do but lost a lot as well. So this is my advice to us ‘werk werk werk werk girls’ – date someone who is just as ambitious as you are.
Amen. So I was going to ask, what does a DJ do to relax and let go of steam? I mean, I personally enjoying having a few glasses of red, others prefer to hit the clubs but you are mostly there working anyway
For a great night out, I would start of by having dinner at NOK, by Alara. It is my favourite restaurant and my best friend manages it. Then I would head to Elegushi Beach for the ultimate all night beach party. It is so crazy and so fun! We have a local drink we like called ‘Origins’ which after one, you are knocked out and done for the evening. And finally, at the end of the night, I’d have some suya* (local Nigerian beef jerky-esque grilled snack). That’s my perfect night.
But it’s actually really annoying because when I go out when I am not DJing, I can’t help it… I always end up in the booth anyway! Even when I am out to do research or to hang out with friends and I explicitly say to myself that I won’t care about music and I will drink and enjoy myself… I still end up in that booth!
I admire anyone who is pushing the envelope.
But for downtime these days, I like to read, spend time with my friends and I’ve really gotten into writing. I’ve done a couple of articles for the Huffington Post and in the past I wrote the entertainment column for Forbes Africa.
We are going to have to get you to write for TRUE Africa too then
Oh absolutely, I would love to. Writing for me has become quite therapeutic. I have a personal journal. I mean hey, maybe it’ll turn into an autobiography one day! But it is a great way for me to express myself and perhaps my writing will eventually turn into writing songs…
An excellent additional skill for anyone in music… So, which DJ’s career do you wish to emulate?
I love this question because my answer is always changing. One person I really admire and I am very vocal about is Mark Ronson. I love how he has been able to have such success while maintaining his credibility and his authenticity. I love how he pulls his inspiration from different cultures, and he is ‘funk’ and he has owned it. He hasn’t sold out and has continued to dictate the charts rather than have the charts dictate him.
Another DJ that I recently saw in Ibiza was Diplo, who is part of Major Lazer and I didn’t realise how amazing and talented he is. I am used to seeing him as a unit but he spoke about how he went to the Caribbean, spent time there and immersed himself in their culture. Now he has taken that Caribbean/Dancehall sound, electrified it and made it mainstream. I admire anyone who is pushing the envelope.
You seem to always be repping African designers in your sense of style, who are your favourites?
I throw myself into our culture, including my clothes and my style but it is interesting, a lot of the pieces I wear I make myself. It is not something I intend to pursue, I don’t want to have a fashion line because my sister – JTO – is so good at that and it is her thing. Plus she works with me a lot. But I do love some brands. One in particular that I have worked with is called Iconola , very affordable, half the clothes I’ve worn are worth under £30.
I also like D Piper Twins, I worked with them while I was in New York. And I like finding designers who are not branded or positioned yet; young girls who just want an opportunity.
So are there any other projects coming up? I am sure there are a few knowing you!
I am always working on something! Another big project of mine, outside the Cuppy Takes Africa tv show, is the tour of the same name where I travelled and played in eight African countries. I definitely want to go on tour again and I want to explore eight new African countries, I mean Africa is a variety of 54 flavours – you can’t do it all in one go. My new personal goal is to go to every single African country.
What a great thing for the bucket list!
We will have to check in with each other as I try to accomplish it. In fact, I am changing it to I hope to DJ in every single African country! I have only played in like 12, 13 of them so just under 40 more to go…
Thanks Cuppy! We’d better let you get on with it!