A man of many talents, Israel Fowobaje, is setting himself up to become one of the diaspora’s most sought after creatives in the community. His skills range from cinematography to event planning to record label manager to music producer to creative director to…well he does it all. Born in Lagos, Nigeria and currently residing in Dallas, Texas pursuing his creative goals, Israel is clearly not stopping until he accomplishes them. We reached out to Israel to find out more about his different projects including Agency301, his inspirations behind photography and production and more.
What is Agency301?
Agency301 is a record management and production label based out of Arlington, TX. To be honest, I made the logo before I even knew what I wanted it to be. I always knew (that) I was knowledgeable in the realm of the music business, so I thought why don’t I pick up some friends that I know make music and utilize the talents I have to help other people. Right now we have Woadie, Tre Ward, Asia Kyree, Kaywht, Redlight.
In addition to management, you also have a hand in producing. How did that start?
I think it started because my mom used to make music and she used to take us to the studio when I was younger. I’ve always been around it, was in a choir, played instruments, it was destined to come. My brother was producing before me and I used to make little trap beats on Fruity loops at first when I was eighth grade. before you know it I started meeting new people, seeing different things and experiencing life, and everything came together perfectly
With the culture clash of being a young Nigerian in America, how did you learn how to make your own sound?
My mentor told me don’t even think of things like that. I will literally just sit down and whatever comes to my head, all the experiences I’ve been through, I just let it come to me and put it in the sound. I just do me.
You (previously) mentioned your mom used to take you to the studio, was she an artist?
My mom was a Nigerian gospel singer and she was actually pretty big around 1998 to the early 2000s and my Dad still plays talking drum. It runs in the family.
Being that your parents pursued their creative arts, do they approve of you doing the same and not focusing on school?
I almost completed school but I took a break because I had so many ideas that I just didn’t have time for,
so I decided to do something different. I feel like recently, once they started realizing that I’m taking it seriously and I’m actually doing something with it, they haven’t really said anything.
Aside from producing, you’re also a beast with the lens. What enabled you to pick up a camera and try your efforts at photography and cinematography?
In my sophomore year of High school, I used to be really into in shoes but I was in this photography class…but I failed it. One of my friends had an old camera and I ended up trading my shoes for that camera like a dummy but everything happens for a reason. Since the day I got that first camera, I haven’t really cared for shoes like that. It’s all history from there.
Who has been the most surprising artist that you’ve had reach out to you to work with?
Aside from Reekado Banks, all the other artists are people that I’ve known all my life and that we’ve all elevated at the time, like Mannywellz for instance. Shoutout to all the Maryland artists, making moves, O-Slice, Zamba, Ike…big ups to them.
How did you link up with Reekado Banks?
I was already been building my network in Dallas and when he was in town looking for a producer, somebody referred me to him. He’s one of the coolest artists I’ve ever met.
Israel is also an artist in his own right, releasing a number of singles under his own name which of course are self-produced. Tracks like “Ride” and “Let me Know” have gained notable traction and will you have wondering, “What can’t this guy do?”
Being that you haven’t been back in Nigeria since you first left, did you feel a bit separated from the culture–since you grew up in the U.S.?
Shoutout to my mom because she would never let me forget about it. Sometimes when I was younger she used to tell me, “Unless you tell me in Yoruba, you’re not getting it.” That did something to me. It kept the culture inside of me.
What is your overall goal in your creative works?
I feel like my overall goal is to be within the music business as a label head. I’m doing everything else right now to build the skills and credibility for the future. I believe in never limiting yourself, people will tell you to focus on just one thing, but just follow what your heart is telling you.