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How The Alien Got To Work On Your Favourite Nigerian Music Videos

the alien

If you have only seen a handful of Nigerian music videos, you have definitely come across Adebayo Emmanuel Fakiyesi’s work. Popularly known as The Alien, he has been the editing and directing maverick behind standout music videos for superstars like Wizkid, Teni, Davido, Burna Boy and more. 

In a recent conversation with PiggyVest, he shared details of his humble start as a young graphics geek and gave an account of where he is headed next with his skills and ideas.  

Tell me about The Alien’s early days.

I grew up in Lagos. My dad was originally from Ekiti, but he moved to Lagos, learned photography and later owned a school.

That’s quite a career change.

Yeah. My dad is a multidimensional person. He couldn’t really move to the digital age as a photographer, so he transitioned.

What about your mum?

She was mainly a mother to her seven children.


Yeah. I am the last of the seven.



What was something definitive that shaped your interests as a kid?

My brothers convinced my parents to enrol me in computer school. I was 9 or 10, but I took it very seriously. I became very good at Corel Draw, Microsoft Word and the likes. I think that was the beginning of what I became.

Was it clear to you what you wanted to do?

I knew I was a creative; I was even in a dance group. It is part of why my people sent me to computer school. But then my family is a family of creatives. My sister used to dance for Simi back when she was a gospel act. My brother was an actor.

But your father owned a school. One would expect his kids to be super-academics.

He was more focused on raising us to be God-fearing. I mean, he sent us to school but creative kids tend to have a mind of their own. We were bombarded with books as kids, so we were reasonably grounded. But his main goal was to have godly and disciplined children. 

So after you finished secondary school?

I was already a computer wizard, especially with design and graphics. My dad established a cybercafe and put another one of my brothers and I in charge. I think I was 15 or 16. Sometimes my actor brother would decide that I should learn something and I’d learn it. 

At some point, he said I should learn video editing because he had trouble with an editor for a music video he was trying to make. 

And you did obviously. 

Yes. My brother was working for a subsidiary of a TV station. His work there brought me in contact with editors. He reached out to a few directors to teach me, but they were charging more than we could afford. So I asked if I could be sleeping in the office to learn. 

They agreed. I met some real geniuses there. There was one man who could build any software, another who could assemble computers, another who could edit brilliantly. I was inspired and the office had great internet, which meant I could download a lot of tutorials. 

In the mornings, I’d watch them work, and at night, when they’d all left, I’d duplicate their project files, scatter everything and then try to rearrange it. 

What software were you using? Premiere Pro?

Yes. My brother had gotten me a laptop, and I was so gingered. Few months later, some of the editors were unhappy and stopped coming to work. One day, the owner was editing himself and I told him that I could do it. He wasn’t convinced, but he let me. 

By morning, I had done it and it wasn’t too bad. That was how I started working for the company. 

That’s quite a story!  

Yeah. It got to a point where they started paying me a salary.

Bad guy! What happened to the company?

The owner made money from politics and started losing interest in the company, I think. My brother started shooting music videos. We had a flyer advertising that we would do a video for ₦50,000. 

Humble beginnings. Did the 50k promo work?

Not really. We didn’t get enough customers, but we got an arrangement with a company that gave us a few gigs. Then we got involved with a company that was affiliated with Edi Lawani, who is a big name in the scene. That was when things started becoming real. The company even got me an Apple laptop. 

What big thing happened next?

Two things. One: I started posting videos I cut on Instagram. That gave me a portfolio. Two: My brother later did a video for a Ghanaian artist. It was our most expensive video, and it was about ₦500,000. The video came out good and the artist promoted it. 

You guys had something to show?

Yeah. More people started believing in us. 

Nice. What happened next?

I started shooting shots online. I’d send a bunch of people in the music video business DMs. I sent a message to one of  Clarence Peters’ associates and didn’t even believe he would reply. 

But he did?

Yes. He was inviting me to Clarence Peters’ office, but I didn’t believe it was real. 


It gets worse. I told them that I didn’t have money for transportation. The guy sent me money, and after a few days, I went to the office to meet Clarence. That was the day my life changed. 


They offered me a job, and I asked for my brother to come along. They agreed. They gave me a video and by night I had edited it. They gave me a second one and I did it by morning. By the end of the week, I had done maybe six videos. 

I’m sure they had never seen that kind of speed before because they paid me my salary for a month and asked me to go home.

What was the salary?

It was a good salary for the time. ₦50k was the core salary per month and there was also a fee per video edit. So, I went home with a decent sum of money.


Yes! They called me back weeks later. When I went back, I pretty much lived in that studio for the next three years. My core salary kept increasing until it almost breached the six-digit line during my time there; I also got bonuses whenever I was on set, which was a lot of the time. And while I was with Clarence, I was the fastest editor, doing video edits in 24 hours, which meant that the cumulative fee I received per video edit was substantial.

You must have edited many of our biggest videos…

Yes. I edited almost any big music video you know from around 2016 to 2019. From Wizkid’s “Soco” to Burna Boy’s “Ye” to DJ Enimoney’s “Diet.”

A video edited by The Alien

Wow. How many videos are we talking about?

[Laughs] Catch this cruise. One night, Clarence and some of his pals were talking about what they had done that year. All of the guys that were hanging out with him that night were popular music video directors. 

One said he had shot around 20 videos, another said he had shot more than 70 videos. Clarence looked at me because at that point, I had edited almost 100 videos that year. And I wasn’t the only editor working for him. 

Clarence was really on a roll. 

Yes. And that was good for me. People were contacting me to edit for them. I was making so much money that I bought a car. I was only 20 at the time. 

What were they paying you for these freelance gigs?

Nothing less than ₦100k per video. 

How were they reaching you?

On Instagram. I posted every video I edited. 

So, when did you set out to do your own thing?

Before I left, Clarence made me and one of my colleagues create a collective to direct some interesting videos. And you know that, alongside my brother, I had some experience with directing videos that sometimes took us out of Nigeria. So, it just seemed like the way to go. I didn’t exactly want to direct but God was bringing directing opportunities my way. I just had to walk the path.  

How has it been? Looks like it has been great.

Yes o! It hasn’t been bad. I shot a Small Doctor video after I left and it led to other opportunities. 

Including the video for BOJ’s “Ronaldo”?

Yes. Ebuka Nwobu, who is a very creative producer, had been watching my stuff. He reached out and that’s how we did that video. After that, a lot more people believed in my vision as a music video director. 

Give me examples of expensive videos you have shot?

Let me name just three. Teni’s “Moslado,” Bayanni’s “Body,” and MohBad’s “Ask About Me.” 

How much are we talking about?

We are talking dollars and more than a couple digits. 


Thanks. It’s all a bit complex. [Laughs] Now that I have my own production company, we have to tailor our productions according to the client’s needs and budget. So our figures vary. But we work in an expensive field, so the money has to be just right. 

Technically, you are more than a music video director…

Yeah. People know me as a music video director, but I identify as a film director who shoots many things: films, music videos, ads and more.

Where do you go from here?

Our vision is to own a conglomerate. We won’t stop until it happens because the goal is to become a business mogul in the entertainment space. 

At this point, what’s your most lucrative income stream?

To be specific, I’ll say film production and creative directing. But in general, I’ll point you to our sister company, MAYHEMCRE8TIVES. It offers branding, creative direction and post-production services. It’s not doing badly at all in terms of revenue.  

A video directed by The Alien

Given your experience, what’s your advice for filmmakers looking to emulate The Alien?

I believe in God, so that’s the first thing. Then, you have to put in the work. Hard work is necessary. Lastly, you need patience. You don’t know what will happen tomorrow. The only way to scale through hard times before you give up is for you to be patient with yourself, your work and your clients. If you are patient, you can have anything in the world. 

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