APPIETUS IN THE MIX …Celebrating 200 Hits Within 20 Years + More
When it comes to the making of good quality music, Ghana can boast of great personalities that can compete with the best of the best in the world over especially in the discipline of sound engineers, beat makers or record producers.
These personalities have hugely contributed to the progress of the Ghanaian entertainment fraternity by their magic fingers during productions.
Mentioning few, we can recall Morris Baby Face, Jay Q, Hammer of the Last Two, Appietus, Fred Kyei Mensah, David Kwabena Bolton, among others.
From the early 90s, The works of the aforementioned record producers dominated the music scene both local and international of which some are relevant till now.
This weekend, we took time with the legendary record producer Appietus, in an up close interview with The New Publisher.
Appiah Dankwah is a Ghanaian musician, sound engineer and a record producer born and breed in the capital of Ghana, Accra but traces his roots to Aduman in the Ashanti Region.
Appietus has been relevant in his game for over two decade during which he has produced over 200 hit songs .
Our engagement with him brought to light great revelations in regards to his career, family and personal experiences as an industry player.
Appietus disclosed how he started with sound engineering and what inspired him. According to him, becoming a sound engineer was a calling but not a WILL.
“It wasn’t a decision but a calling. Growing up as a kid, I was always around the church band and will be making noise with the musical instruments even when the pastor is preaching. You know, my mother would come and drag me away but in some few seconds, you will see me there again. I grew up loving the electronic piano and always wanted to be around it.” Appietus said.
He recounted that, after completing secondary school, though he was in his teens, he preferred to pursue his music ambition instead of furthering his education at the tertiary level. Just as every parent will do, his mother gave him a tough time with his decision since the mother wanted him to become a brilliant lawyer in the future instead of a musician.
Young Appietus never gave up on music but insisted he wanted to learn more even though he was a bit good with the piano and had started making some cash out of it as a teenager.
He revealed that, his big brother then introduced him to one Seth Donkor who was a good friend to legendary Fred Kyei Mensah of Fredyma Studios.
Appietus spent time with Fred Kyei Mensah until he was moved to Kay’s Frequency at Asylum Down due to his eagerness of mastering sound engineering which makes him a bit ‘stubborn’ to his trainer, Fredyma.
“In my teens, after completing secondary school, I made it known to my parents my desire of pursuing music. Even though it was a bit challenging on the part of my parents, I never gave up. My big brother introduced me to one Seth Donkor who was also a friend to Fredyma (Fred Kyei Mensah), so I worked under Fred and he introduced me to ‘sound sequence’ on a computer.
”I had been using the piano to arrange some instrumentals and recording people but this time, it was on a computer which seemed a bit complicated and advanced. Along the line, It was as if I became a burden for Uncle Fred because I kept pre-setting his computer in the course of learning new things and he has to call in someone to reset it for him always.
”In fear of loosing his works someday, Fred Kyei Mensah took me to Kay’s Frequency since I was giving him problems. There I started producing and recording people. I produced Mzbell’s ’16 years’ song and other great hits in the 90s, I was just a teenager.” he recalled.
The Dady Lumba’s “Tokrom” record producer has divulged that, coming up, he encountered no competitors in his line of game. He never developed such intention of having a competitor because he trusted his own works just as everybody would.
“In fact I never had such mind. I knew I wasn’t in a competition with anyone because I never thought of such. I wasn’t the only sound engineer then though, but I knew my works were perfect just as any of them will say to themselves. We had my master, Fred Kyei Mensah, Hamma, Jay Q and others but there wasn’t any thought of competition.
”After all, I can’t work the whole year with all the artistes in Ghana all alone but in all everybody trusted his works so I had no competitors, I was perfect in my own ways.” he responded when asked of his greatest competitor in the game of sound engineering.
The acronym “Appietus” has become a household name both on the local and international music market and till date some wonder where and how that nickname was coined. Indeed, Appietus disclosed the meaning and origin of such acronym.
According to him, the alias “Appietus” was sketched on him by highlife legend Amandzeba Nat Brew.
Briefing the New Pubisher, Appietus said, ”Amandzeba one morning came knocking my door calling Appietus! Appietus!! Come out, let’s go and work. As I stepped out, I asked Amandzeba what that Appietus mean and he (Amandzeba) interpreted by saying ‘Appiah and his Tools’.
He disclosed that, his works made him popular even at his blind side because until he climbed a stage to take an award on behalf of Ofori Amponsah, he never knew how huge he had become in the face of the public.
Appietus was surprised at speculations there was some mystical or magical undertones propelling his career: “Magic? There wasn’t anything like that – it all boiled down to hard work. I really worked for my name and besides in those days, I never knew I was that huge until I climbed a podium to receive an award on behalf of Ofori Amponsah and after I’ve mentioned my name to the crowed, I was shocked with how they reacted, they wanted to eat me. They screamed my name and I was like ‘Wow, am I that huge?”
And God was so good to me that, any song I produced was accepted out there and kept on working hard with such grace.
Responding to his greatest challenge as a sound engineer, Appietus recounted a funny but critical incident which he had vowed never to forget in his life.
“There have been a lot of challenges coming up as a professional sound engineer but the worse was when I took one guy’s money before production and realized he is not musically inclined. In fact that was hectic. The guy had no music related talent. He came to my office willing to pay any amount just to drop a piece of paper containing his song lyrics and asked me to do a beat for him.
”I was like how? How can I produce a beat with a piece of paper containing lyrics only?. By then, I had already taken his money so I have to hire a songwriter to rearrange his lyrics and get me a melody for the production. From then, anytime one enters my studio for production, I ask them to sing first so I get to know if really they are talented or music inclined before we starts work.”
Appietus thereafter complained bitterly about the current state of music production in Ghana. He observed that, the Ghanaian music industry today lacks quality sound production as compared to his time.
”Mass production has been the cause for such unacceptable declination of our music sound production in the industry, these young so called engineers would go for some two loud speakers, get a laptop and a microphone and you will see them recording. We are not progressing as an industry when it comes to sound production.
”There was this debate sometime ago and I asked my debater to play his current produced song to compare with mine since he claims to be the newest sound engineer in town. Same speakers, we played ‘Oh Waye’, a song I did for Ofori Amponsah, and his’, he took his pendrive and walked away.
”The reason for this is, there has been a mass production. Everybody wants to do music. They will only take two small speakers and a laptop and call themselves sound engineers and producers. Demo songs are now aired as Mastered songs so you see. Demo songs can sound anyhow but nowadays we air demo songs which is bad. Immediately you complains, they will say you are jealous.
”That is why an artiste will come today and the next three or four months, he is no more because their songs don’t last. What about the next four years to come?” he bemoaned.
In the view of Appietus, except Kwame Nkrumah who built an international film studio with sound studio partitioned in it, no government has ever thought of providing mechanisms and logistics for the creative industry.
Touching on current affairs at the Musicians Union of Ghana (MUSIGA), Appietus said, he has terminated his intention of contesting MUSIGHA presidential seat but will vote for any of the contestants whose manifesto sounds good to him.
Giving out his reasons of quieting the race, Appietus said, he expected all those who worked with the former Union President Bice Obour Kufuor,to leave office with him so to make way for a fresh team to occupy the offices of the MUSIGA to ensure a uniform and supportive ambitions.
”Here is the case, these same people are contesting in various offices of the MUSIGA and he can’t work as a president with subordinates who will not have same aim, and agenda with him. I have terminated my intention of contesting MUSIGA president because as a president, you need to have a supportive subordinates who will have a uniform agenda as you.
Behind every successful man, there is indeed a wise woman, and Appietus lives to attest this popular saying.
Speaking on how he manages his kind of work with the family, Appietus disclosed the harmony and understanding between him and the family despite his busy schedules.
“I met my wife whiles doing sound engineering and she really loves and understands my kind of work. I really give her and my kids all the necessary attention as a family man and you know, things have been smooth with us because it all boils down to understanding each other and what you do.” he said.
On the 14th December 2019, there is going to be a life band stand and a party to celebrate such a lascivious moment at the GOLD COAST Square.
Appietus in his over 20 years behind the console has produced over 200 hit songs and indeed such a legend needs to be celebrated.
He has worked with Ghanaian super musicians such as Sarkodie, Castro, Obrafour, Samini, 4×4, 5Five, Kojo Antwi, Daddy Lumba, Kwabena Kwabena, Ofori Amponsah, Wutah, Praye, K.K Fosu, Rex Omar, Okyeame Kwame, Lucky Mensah, George Darko Ebo, Sidney, Kofi Nti, Bradaz, Becca, Kwaadie, Kwaw Kese, D2, Rana, Nana Acheapong, Kofi Nti, Don Itchi, Josh Laryea among other.
He has about 200 hit songs to his credit including three compilations which includes the 2008 “The Revolution”
“Tip of the Iceberg” in 2010, “Appietus Compilation Volume 3 (Azonto Fiesta)” in 2012.
Appietus with his 20 years of doing music has won 6 awards with 5 nominations and an honored award.