William Onyeabor: Atomic Bomb
on 16 February 2014
Luaka Bop label manager Eric Welles is behind this week's #PrivateJam, and he shares his love for the elusive Nigerian singer William Onyeabor. Welles not only worked relentlessly on bringing Onyeabor's sound to the US, but was lucky enough to receive a personal performance for "Atomic Bomb." He explains, "Just like the man himself, this is one of those songs that even after you've played it a gazillion times, you still don't know what the hell it's about. Is it really about the bomb? Or maybe a woman? Or something else? I think about this each time I hear it, and I kinda love how I never (will?) know. It's one of those songs that's so damn long, that whenever it's over you've totally forgotten where you are and what you're doing—but then you realize you're listening to this amazing song and you wish it could go on just a little bit longer. A friend of mine once said it was the catchiest song ever. The long spaced-out solos, the synthesizers that are like from another world, and a piano that just kills me every time. I don't know much more about William Onyeabor then when I started [in 2012]. I've visited him in Nigeria three times and every time I go there, it feels like I get a little bit closer. During my last visit, he sang this song for me in his surreal 1970 palace—in the special room called the VIP Room—and it was one of the greatest musical experiences of my life."