Faris Boulus, aka Oyinbo Rebel, is a singer, actor and comedian who has 199,000 followers on Instagram. He tells ABIODUN SANUSI about his career
What is your educational background?
I have a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management, as well as a Master’s degree in Film Directing. I also underwent acting training at the New York Film Academy and Sterling Studios in Los Angeles, United States of America.
With my passion for acting, I never wanted to stop learning. I have also attended other acting courses in London, United Kingdom. Acting is just like any other skill. One has to hone it, live it, delve into one’s emotions and truly know oneself inside out. How can one become another person if one does not fully understand the extent of one’s emotions? Acting is a true passion of mine.
How and why did your family move to Nigeria?
I have been in Nigeria since the age of five. I had my elementary and secondary education in Lagos, before going abroad for my diplomas. I finally completed my journey abroad and home was calling me. I returned to where my family and I call home, assisting in the family businesses and also pursuing my dreams.
Why did you choose to remain in Nigeria rather than returning to the US where you were born?
Nigeria is home; it is that simple! You can take a man out of the country that moulded him but you can never remove the culture and country from a man’s identity and heart. I was longing to return to the place I had lived for the longest time in my life. Nigeria has been my home for over 25 years. I see myself going all the way to the last bus stop (laughs).
What do you love the most about Nigeria?
The culture, the food, the people and the city of Lagos. The feeling I have when I am in Lagos can only be described as home.
What or who inspired you to become a musician?
I have always wanted to be an artiste. From a young age, I acted in plays, and took dance classes and voice lessons. It is what I have always been good at. Growing up watching music videos and movies, I knew I wanted to be an artiste and an actor like the great people I saw on TV. It is not something that just developed out of the blues. My passion for music has been with me since birth.
How do you get inspiration for your skits?
My producer and I get together and create (materials). We think about funny situations I can be featured in and we go ahead. Sometimes, we do this with character-driven scenarios, or by speaking Yoruba to amaze the audience. We get inspiration from everything around us. One can always find a way to make people smile and laugh. One just has to put in the effort to record the funny thoughts me and my producer were born with.
You once left Nigeria for some time and returned in 2012 to start doing music. What were you doing outside the country?
I left Lagos in 2005 to attend boarding school in Switzerland. I then went to university in Los Angeles. I then started making music, singing and rapping in pidgin English. I was obsessed (with music). The first thing I would do when I woke up was pick up the microphone and record. In classes, I would write lyrics, and at any time, I could start rapping for anyone to hear. Music has always been my passion and I always knew that I would return to it. It was only a matter of time.
You speak Yoruba and pidgin English fluently. How did you learn those languages?
(Speaking) pidgin English has always been a part of me since I was a child. However, Yoruba was one of the hardest and most beautiful languages to learn. As a ‘child of Lagos’, I wanted to really integrate in the culture, and make music in the language. So many people are already doing music in English with American accents, so I decided to do something out of the ordinary and unseen before. I really love Eko (Lagos) and that’s the reason I learnt the language and rap in it.
Which do you prefer between Nigeria or the United States?
The US is nice, but I go there for visits mostly. Lagos is home. The both cannot be compared; they are different in many ways.
What’s your favourite food?
There are too many to state. I eat all kinds of food from all countries, whether it is ‘swallow’ and soup, sushi or authentic Italian food.
How often do you travel out of the country?
It all depends on my schedule. Between family business, film shoots, adverts, concerts, appearances and skit making, I usually find it hard to find some time for myself. I however try to take a trip at least once a year to experience new scenes and places, as well as visit family members abroad. Travelling is nice but it is at the bottom of my list. If I have some time, I do it. But, I spend most of my time in Lagos. I have a lot to accomplish in the coming years and time waits for nobody.
Being of Lebanese origin, how often do you visit Lebanon?
Since the COVID-19 pandemic and the severe economic crisis, (I have not been there). It is a shame though because Lebanon is a beautiful and great place.
What nationality(ies) do you claim, since you were born in the USA, grew up in Nigeria, your father is a Lebanese, your grandmother was born in Cote D’Ivoire and your mum was born in Burkina Faso?
The easiest way to put it is that I am a French-American-Lagosian. The nationality question is a problem we, multi-cultural people, have to face. Simply explaining our background requires a graph and Powerpoint presentation (laughs).
What do you do for leisure?
I love working out, going to the beach, watching movies and spending time with my wife and dogs.
When should your fans expect a song or album from you?
In the near future, my debut Extended Play album (will be released), featuring the likes of Boj, Blaqbonez, and Skales. The songs will be produced by Killertunes, and my dearest friend, producer and collaborator, Tiwezi. We are working on every aspect of the album to really wow my existing fans as well as gain the love of more Nigerians.
How have you been able to manage family with career without one affecting the other?
It has not been easy. The amount of work and money that go into building a name in the industry is hard, but giving up is not an option for me. Every day is a chance to blow (succeed) and my family has accepted this. They support me a 100 per cent. The feedback and love I have received is encouragement enough for me to continue giving people joy in any form possible.