Aimey Bizo: professionalize Showbiz in Africa and make it worth
Flashmag guest star this month, is a musician who has just published an academic book on the organization of shows in his native Cameroon, Aimey Bizo has known for over 20 years the scene, former member of the Cameroonian Afro funk music group, Star System, the diehard music lover, was not reluctant to complete his academic curriculum with studies in economic management at the University Lumière of Lyon, in France. In an interview without restraint, the author of LIVE SHOWS IN CAMEROON: From the Production to the organization of tour, talks about his career and his co-written reference book with Marie-Anne Clerget.
Flashmag: Hello, Aimey Bizo, Flashmag and its readership, thank you kindly for granting us this interview.
Aimey Bizo: Hello Flashmag, the pleasure is all mine, to speak about Cameroonian music in particular but also culture in general.
Flashmag: The time of this interview our gallery is yours. To start, we knew you already, especially for those of us who for over 20 years are following the development of African music, as a talented musician who was part of Star System an Afro funk group. So I would like to know as much as others what brought you so early in the fields of art, before your academic life?
Aimey Bizo: Very early, like many young peoples from hot neighborhoods in Yaoundé, I aspire to launch myself besides studies, doing extracurricular activities. So I will try sports, without success, Rasta religion unsuccessfully as well, and then dance with some relevance. I am one of those who have experienced the hip hop movement with Sydney. Finally this is how I will get into the field of culture in the company of the group System Breakers in the Rap - Hip - Hop movement. Subsequently, and with the birth of Cameroon Radio Television, CTV at that time, Tata Coco Rosy (one of the top host of television programs in Cameroon) will propose us to mount choreography for her TV show of the time '' Tata Coco Rosy '' And from this show, we will mount choreographies for Govy and others like Yolande Ambiana, who were Some of the most prominent artists in Cameroon at the time.
Flashmag: How was formed the musical group Star System?
Star System group has been very successful among the youths in Africa, if you had to do it again what would you change?
Aimey Bizo: Nkembé Pesauk, one of the most important music producer in Cameroon, will ultimately choose for us, requesting us, to put voice and music on our choreography. Thus was born the musical group Star System.
Star System was formed by Léopold Tamba Essomba with the assistance of Nkembe Pesauk. We were then at that time composed of Armand Beyar, Marquis Papale, Nini Ossanga and me. Then we will add Peckey Power, Florent Ahandza and Jessy. We have known at the time tours in Ivory Coast, with the RAS group or shows like Christmas in Color with Consty Eka. If I had to experience it again, I would not change anything, because the conditions of the time were such that amateurism was in order, and we couldn’t really do anything else, despite our good will. Besides, we did not know at the time that cultural management was possible.
Flashmag: a question that all fans of Star System would like to have an answer. Why this group which appeared to be gone for the summits of African music broke up after two albums only? Are you still in touch with other members of the group? What have they become?
Aimey Bizo: The band broke up at the time because of lack of cultural policy, which would have allowed us to live correctly with our professional activity. Today, some of our brothers gain their living by their art that I can tell. At the time we were young; we had social obligations and we weren’t making any money from our musical activities so we were stuck. How to build a socially family life without money? So, our families were obliged to provide for our needs and so, despite our individual wills, to decide what was good for us and our careers, we were forced at the time to follow family injunctions. I have regular contact with the members of Star System and we also have a private Facebook group that was created by Jessy Jessy work in the States, Chris Beyar is cultural adviser at the town hall of Ermont in France, Marquis Papale is a filmmaker and lives between France and Benin. Peckey Power is certified teacher from High Schools in Cameroon, etc.
Flashmag: Now that some of you have a certain social base, have you thought about doing an album? A comeback of some sort?
Aimey Bizo: Yes!!! With the publication of my guide on the performing arts in Cameroon, we decided to publish a remake, a reworked and revisited version of our first album, but just for fun and not really for a new career
Flashmag: your many fans will be happy to enjoy this new album I'm sure ... Later you first immigrated to Switzerland and then to France why? It was necessary to give the best means to pursue your career I presume? Aimey Bizo: No !!! I personally immigrated to Switzerland for economic reasons. I had at the time (1994) in Cameroon opened a private security company with Alex Edo'o Edo'o the producer of our first album 'DJe Dance' 'released in July 92, and unfortunately, for reasons I will not mention here our company closed shop and we had to find our way out. Thus I moved to Switzerland in 1999 and later in 2006, to France for family and professional reasons. For those who come to Europe in adventure, they will understand. Thus, I finally understood that in these countries there were cultural policies, and professionals in the field of performing arts, who excel some in the phonographic production, some in the organization of shows, some in the organization of tours, some in music publishing, etc. ... but I told myself wouah! , so, in our domain, there is a professional and economic organization.
Flashmag: at the same time during your stay in Europe, you will return to school why did you feel the need to do so?
Aimey Bizo: I had a rage to understand, to know the current professional practice in Switzerland, in France, in the United States and then to tell the youths of Cameroon, and Cameroonian artists that, there is professional options, to tell Cameroonian politicians that there is a possibility of making the showbiz in Cameroon more professional, more efficient, more economical, but above all, shout loudly in the faces of Cameroon that, there is a possibility of allowing Cameroonian performers to live from their professional activities. Today it’s the meaning of my new approach. I know I will not be able to immediately change the status quo of culture underway in Cameroon, but at least I'll throw a bottle into the sea, which I am sure will bear fruit later.
Flashmag: by choosing to do in economic management you probably wanted to
know the secrets of the arts industry, they are legions of laments of artists around the world who often struggle with crooked producers. I Very much hope that your work helps to change that. But to go deeper, speaking specifically of the book co-authored with Marie -Anne Clerget, where did you get the idea to publish SPECTACLES VIVANTS AU CAMEROUN: de la production à l’organisation d’une tournée ( LIVE SHOWS IN CAMEROON: from production to the organization of a tour) , and the co-author, can we know who she is? And what was her specific contribution in this book? How was your collaboration?
Aimey Bizo: Your question has several components and I will try to answer you in stages because they deserve clear answers, each other but in the meantime, I wanted to tell you that the world and especially in the domain of the show , legal ordinances require each other to make arrangements not only for the management of their careers when it comes to performers for example, but also to make arrangements for the management of a private and commercial enterprise Arrangements means , to surround itself with peoples with duly competence who know, and understand, how to manage and administer a career. Producers are corrupt simply because in the other side, there are no artists interpreter who surround themselves with peoples who can read, understand and impose professional vision in the management of artists career and finally, we all know that generally, artists often come, mostly from very disadvantaged backgrounds, many are not schooled enough and are hungry and thirsty for success, this is why they do not always look closely at the offer made by a producer. And to return to your last question, I will dissect. Primo - The idea of publishing professional guides on organizing shows in Cameroon was born during my university studies at the University of Lyon. I told myself that, it was not possible to understand and acquire as much knowledge without sharing with my brothers artists, managers, power brokers, and other cultural journalists. I decided suddenly on the sidelines of my activity as a lathe, to publish these guides. My French co-author Mrs. Clerget, is a writer who wrote books about first
ladies of France. I contacted her in the final step of my guide, because my editor required me to make necessary corrections. Then I realized suddenly that I was not a traditional writer, I write as I think, with my words. It is progressively during correction that I find out that she rewrote some of my passages, sentences. Not being able to pay the final work at the height of her contribution, I proposed to give her some of my rights. Our collaboration was done in complete serenity. I had done the hard work, all the research and the writing the text in its entirety, and she brought me a huge helping hand in the phase related to its correction. Flashmag: How long it took to post this item? I imagine you were inspired by what you lived in your artistic experience, probably tried to overcome some difficulties that you experienced yourself as an artist?
Aimey Bizo: I am in my second guide. The first was published in 2009 with editions ACorias - France and it took me almost two years, spent between research, writing, various changes, and corrections. Obviously, my artistic and administrative experience in the showbiz was especially my motto, my Viagra to enable Cameroonian performers, each in its field (dance, theater, comedy, music, etc.) to make fiscal and social provisions to better manage their careers both in Cameroon and abroad.
Flashmag: your work breaks definitively with amateurism, and provides practical advice in the organization of shows in Cameroon, but the case of Cameroon can be applied in many other African countries. You know very well Africa; whether to review the organization of concerts in Africa and music production in the continent what would you say? What needs to be done, to make things better?
Aimey Bizo: A totally void organization, in the process of organizing shows for so many reasons. The most obvious reasons are the lack of cultural policies and the huge amateurism in force in the field. And with regard to the phonographic production it's even more disastrous, not only because there is no organized market in Africa, but the disk piracy, is a plague that does not help matters. The only thing to do is to organize those sectors which are nevertheless the most economical of the cultural field , but for political reasons, this is not for tomorrow morning. I am convinced that even the next generation will not know an entertainment industry appeased, regulated and organized.
Flashmag: Well you seem to have taken the bull by the horns by deciding to educate the masses, so they can change things, don’t you think it's time for peoples to organize and for private persons to take initiative instead of waiting for the public authorities?
Aimey Bizo: No!!! Private persons cannot take things in hand. In any society there must be a law to get everyone to agree, and a law to regulate this law in place, it is necessary to have another law to control what is happening. It is then that private peoples can organize their activities around this law, the masses also can be educated and organized following the rule, so that activities will be performed normally in equity.
There is what we generally call the political will. It is very important. It is sorely lacking in Cameroon. A Cameroonian university professor told me recently that we are into the wait policy, more than anything. Look at the case of Cameroon; there are nicks producers, event organizers, artists and other agents and pompous names in galore in the cultural fields. The problem is that , not only those who present themselves with these labels do not even know the definitions, requirements and constraints of these names, while the government takes no steps to remedy these shortcomings. Conclusion in the end: everybody lose (the State loses tax revenue and a way to curb unemployment that affects a very important part of the young Cameroonians and Cameroonians are not entitled to quality in cultural products. performers do not enjoy a social condition well managed ). It's too bad Flashmag: intellectual, I presume you think more about adequate training of professionals in the sector, after producing a book like this, have you thought to teach it in art schools, in the case of the Cameroon, have you checked on the availability of various universities in the country to incorporate the artistic management in the academic programs? We cannot say enough that knowledge is a weapon to have if we are to get out of the rut?
Aimey Bizo: Good quote my dear Hubert, and in the logic that is mine, I advocate the awareness of decision makers, the implementation of cultural policies must include the training sector which is very important it’s an efficient link. No, I have not taken this step to universities and colleges based in Cameroon, but all in good time.
Flashmag: In Africa and Cameroon in particular, only foreign artists are making crowd, artists of international renown such as American stars, and generally when they arrive in Africa, they have a big production team with them, which leaves almost nothing to the local, about you what has to be done to overcome this situation? And it is clear that there is an audience that is willing to pay tickets to watch these stars on stage? So if things are not always working , it’s not because of the supposed African misery I think? Is The extroversion of mentalities , an obstacle to cultural progress in the mainland, since they prefer what comes from elsewhere, to what is produced locally?
Aimey Bizo: Once again, we have a public that can have access to the consumption of cultural products, but we are desperately short on peoples trained and capable of organizing performances of locals but worse foreign artists . Renowned performers from developed countries when invited, often by government or corrupt officials, the price is put to satisfy the whims of these international stars but mostly, the ego of funders. No, the misery of Africa has nothing to do here on the organization of a show. Imagine a show organizer based in Cameroon who exercise its activity professionally. Who has a structure declared, a physical office and a clear business plan. He knows that , when he organizes a show of Manu Dibango, Beyoncé or Lady Ponce, depending on each artist interprets, specific economic management will be implemented.
The extrovert mentality once again is the responsibility of politics. We have in all countries that we call: national preference. In Cameroon, for example, is there a clear mention of an obligation to broadcast a percentage of Cameroonian or foreign music?
Culturally, most Cameroonian medias are ruining local artists, while gracefully spreading, music from elsewhere. Here a journalist prefers to ask Mani Bella 1,000,000 CFA and including a deviant obligation to play her music, and in case of refusal, he will instead turn to foreign music that he will broadcast with no special obligations. Educate the masses, broadcast Cameroonian music, will allow the Cameroonian people to love their music, and artists to benefit , this is not the case today. You are in journalism and You know, that the medias are a power that directs the masses to often dangerous policies This problem you pose is mostly related to the Cameroonian medias, it’s not the fault of artists or peoples. Peoples are following only what the propagandists Medias feed to them. Flashmag: Right, in front of some of your colleague like Nneka, who I received some time ago I have never denied the fact that we are responsible both for the quality of music that the world populace consumes, as the clichés conveyed by the artists, and therefore people education, and in reality the loss of quality in products, extroversion, and deviant behavior attitudes are intimately related to the medias , which choose what they broadcast or which are constrained by some entities to play some artists all day long, the complaint on the decline of art , is also a serious phenomenon here in the US, everyone should take responsibility and our own, as medias is important.
Aimey Bizo: I do not tell you.
Flashmag: in any case we try to do things differently, but be aware that the medias are not free, they belong more and more to the entities that produce some artists, it is difficult to have an alternate view if one is not Independent. The art and money do not always get along , yet the first needs the second to outsell and the second needs the first to grow, however, there has been interference, and a fight. Those who invest their money in art tend to want to dictate the kind of art they want to see , while art is always calling for more freedom to express itself ? Is it possible that a more scientific management of the artistic thing, followed by the strict economic management policies can distort the art by turning it to a simple economic consumer product?
Aimey Bizo: Luck is with us, today, it is still possible to redo everything. These networks have not managed to control these systems back home. Art cannot do without money. This is already the first expression of the profit for the one who creates. An object, a text, an artistic composition born from the guts, it’s the baby, but since artists need to publish at a certain time, to broadcast it , to be famous with no necessary finances to achieve these purposes, they will appeal to a financier. Artists who manage to overcome some social settings, does who are '' arrived '' and therefore that enjoy financial independence are regularly stored away from the pernicious blackmail of funders. The goal is to enable any creator in a phase of financing business, to ensure that he (she)will no longer depend financially from any producer from that moment, the artists may propose and impose scientific artistic projects, personalized pieces that are not imposed to them. You must also understand that the funder, needs to monetize its case because very often artists do not have to deal with philanthropists but businessmen. This is the game anyway.
Flashmag: Eventually do you think your book will achieve its objective, primarily, by bridging a gap and secondly by changing drastically artist management in Africa and Cameroon in particular?
Aimey Bizo: It is in any case what I wish, but for that, I rely heavily on the media like yours to get there. Because it is together that we will win. A fight like this one is never conducted alone.
Flashmag: anyway , your book has been ordered, by the magazine because Flashmag will soon get its hands in the scene , beyond rhetoric, it is time to get into the management of the artistic thing, we’ve been working since in the creation of a cybernetic observatory of African music, it’s time to have more visibility of African musicians on the web and who knows we will soon organize awards ceremony with concerts in support, and of course this has to be done in the standards. While concluding this interview do you have a particular word to the public? Where is available SPECTACLES VIVANTS AU CAMEROUN: de la production à l’organisation d’une tournée LIVE SHOWS IN CAMEROON: from production to the organization of a tour?
Aimey Bizo: I already thank your readers and I hope they will receive with great interest these words and I thank especially Flashmag for its goals and especially its willingness to highlight the work of African creators. I wish you good luck and I would not fail when the time comes to bring you my expertise. The book is available in the editions l’ Harmattan Flashmag: Aimey Bizo Flashmag and its readership thank you for your frank and open interview, all the best.
To buy the book follow the link below http://www.editions-harmattan.fr/index.asp?navig=catalogue&obj=livre&no=46124
Video Star System - Dje Dance
Interview by Hubert Marlin - photography: Chantal photographie