We Interview: Tuke Morgan - Saxophonist, Food Photographer & Blogger
Tuke is one of those people who you stumble on her page on Instagram, and her wide smile probably makes you click the follow button. When we got the chance to dine recently, I knew that she wasn't just smiling for the 'gram, she's such a happy person! Three hours with her went by without realising and I missed my train home.
But what inspires me about Tuke, is the dedication and passion with which she approaches her love for the Sax - an instrument she picked up for the first time just before University.
As usual, I speak to her a whole lot of things! Hope you enjoy! Xx
Your last name 'Morgan' doesn't sound very Nigerian. Any interesting history lessons for us there?
- Yes actually! I'm from Ilesha in Osun State, and my surname originally had something to do with the local gods. When my fore-fathers moved to Lagos and became Anglicans, they changed their name to Morgan!
How did you get into playing the saxophone?
- I started playing the Sax in 2009. The first time I blew into a Sax was February 29th of that year. I didn’t want to learn the Sax, I actually wanted to learn the Guitar but my Dad suggested the Sax. I had 2 trial lessons in both instruments and the Sax was my preferred option. I was privileged to go to England in September 2008 for my A-Levels and was shocked and impressed by the wide range of extra-curricular activities available at my school. I decided to fully take advantage of the opportunities that were available at that school and immersed myself in a variety of activities. By the end of the first term I decided I want to learn a musical instrument. It was the culture of the school and achievements of my fellow students that ignited a desire to learn a musical instrument.
What other musical instrument will you have loved to play or are you hoping to learn?
- I originally wanted to learn the guitar like mentioned above and I can play about on the Drums and Keyboard. I am not hoping to learn another instrument. I plan to fully master the Sax, there is still so much to learn. I also only own an Alto Sax, I am hoping to invest in a Soprano Sax and Tenor sax and master them too as they produce different sounds from the Alto and can invoke certain emotions that the Alto can’t.
3 female musical artists (not necessarily Sax players) that inspire you.
- Yemi Alade
- Yolanda Brown
You've recorded a single - one of your favourite hymns. Are you hoping to write your own songs or is your preference to play the sax showcasing other people's songs?
- I will definitely like to record an album but I’m not in a hurry to do that. I think good music takes time to create and I don’t want to push out anything that is Mediocre. When I play at events, it is usually cover’s of other people’s songs.
What events have you really enjoyed playing at, and where / what do you look forward to playing
- There are a couple of events I've really enjoyed: An album launch, an Intimate 60th Birthday Party and an Old Boys Meeting at the Vice President of Nigeria's house. I am really looking forward to playing at a destination wedding and I want to play in all the continents too.
You recently quit your job to pursue a career full time as a creative Entrepreneur. What's the best part of being your own boss, and the scary bit (if any)
- The best part is that I don’t have to say 'No' to opportunities that come my way as I have to time to put in the work and ensure I provide excellent quality service.
- The thought of how sustainable a business is can be scary, but that’s why it’s necessary to have multiple sources of income so if one industry suffers a set back you can increase your efforts in another industry
How did you manage to convince your parents that quitting your job was the way forward?
- It took a while before they finally agreed that I could quit my 9-5. I wrote a 16 slide presentation with 14 reasons why I needed to leave and 4 months after I sent it to them, God touched their heart and my dad said I could resign.
Do you think you could go back to a 9-5
- I highly doubt it. Maybe part time employment or flexible hours working on projects I love. I am one of those people who wouldn’t be excellent at something I despise, it will become frustrating and start affecting my mental health. That’s why it was necessary for me to monetise my talents/interests and turn them into business.
3 items you always have in your handbag
- Business Cards
- Bank Card
You've also been rather successful as a blogger. If you have to give new or intending bloggers one piece of advice, what will that be?
I think there is a lot more information out there to help new bloggers, there are loads of free resources that will help them avoid certain mistakes. I will advice that you do your research before you start, especially concerning what platform to use. I might have to change to WordPress so late in the game, but if I had the information I had now, I wouldn’t have started my Blog with Blogger. I would have also started building my email list from day 1.
I will advise intending bloggers to write out why they want to start a blog so that when things get tough they can look back at their reasons and stay determined.
Also, stop comparing themselves with other Bloggers who seem more successful or more popular. Don’t let comparison steal your joy. Quality is more important than Quantity so ensure that the Quality of your posts is top notch.
Do you think Bloggers can make money off blogging in Nigeria and how do you make money from your blog?
- Yeah, I definitely think so, and it depends on what sort of blog you have. People with lots of traffic make money via ads. I've made money directly via brand promotion. However, it could also be an indirect source of income, when your blog acts a platform. For example, I've made money off content writing when a brewery company in Nigeria stumbled on the kind of posts I write and requested I write for their website. My blog has also served as a platform for people to discover my food photography and sax skills!
Tell us your favourite social media platform and why
- I spend most time on is Instagram because of it’s visual appeal.
3 Apps that make your life easier
- Keep (I’m forever scribbling down notes, thoughts and lessons)
- Whatsapp (Whatsapp Call, Instant Messaging, being able to have nice long conversations with friends and Families in different countries)
- Banking apps
Your food photography portfolio is impressive! And I'm constantly drooling at your photos. What significant achievements have you had as a food photographer?
- Winning an International Food Photography Competition and being recognized by older more experienced photographers that I Love and look up to. My food photography journey has really just begun so you should all look out for the great things I shall achieve with this gift, God willing!
Tell us how you keep fit with all these yummy food you seem to always be around.
I don’t do any exercise but I tend to be on the move quite a bit, I have an 8 year old brother so expend quite a bit of energy looking after him. I guess playing the Sax might count as exercise as I’m dancing around in heels for hours at a lot of events.
One food brand you'll love to work with?
- Red Lobster because I love Seafood and they have 670 restaurants so will give me great exposure.
One meal you can cook perfectly; and one meal you can eat everyday!
- I think my Fried Rice and Jollof Spaghetti are top notch. I don’t think I can eat one thing everyday o, variety is the spice of life.
Favourite Nigerian Snack you think non-Nigerians have to try
- Chin Chin
Your afro puff is almost becoming a signature hairstyle, although you tend to switch up your hair quite a bit. What's your go to protective styling?
- It's actually intentional. As a brand, I want Tuke Morgan to be associated with my natural hair. I recently did an interview for BBC and I wore my wig. This was quite painful as I really want my hair to be part of my brand. My go to hair style is the puff. But for protective styling, I'll say my go to option is the box braids.
On advice for intending 'naturalistas'?
- Have a regimen! Your hair is so hair, and everyone's is different. So what works for one person might not work for another. Don't rush into buying products. If possible, use a sample first.
Best Money Saving Tip?
- Document all your spending for a month, analyse your spending habits and make changes so you don’t waste money on unnecessary purchases. Also, when saving, don’t put all your eggs in one basket, diversify your funds: Stocks, T-Bills, Mutual Funds, Bonds, Property (one day), do your research and know how much risk you are willing to take.
Shoe or Bag Person. What are your thoughts on buying luxury designer bags, and if you're a fan what's your Favourite designer brand?
- I would much rather invest in a Designer Bag than a Designer shoe. I have bags from Michael Kors, YSL and DKNY that I love. I really like Ferragamo flats
5 things you'll like to achieve before 30
- Have visited at least 30 countries and played Sax in at least 7 of them
- Own property
- Represent Nigeria in front of International Audiences
- Monetized all my passions/interests
- My personal brand will be a notable one which will have broken records
On monetising you passions, I know you're interested in performing arts and theatre. Would you like to do more of this?
- It's honestly quite tricky. I categorise my passions into 4. Photography, Performing Arts, Music & Blogging. At the moment, blogging has become more of a platform, and Music definitely being the main source of income. I've done voice overs and acting in the past (theatre). But these require a lot of time and dedication, and I'm not able to commit to those now because my Sax schedule has to be flexible as gigs can come up at the last minute. Plus the Sax market is less saturated, and i'm trying to be known for one thing and let others be secondary.
What's the best advice you've received in recent times?
- Trust the process.
- God won’t give you more than you can handle.
- There is a lesson to be learnt from each experience you go through
- Every opportunity isn’t for you. It might be God shutting the door because he knows you working with one brand will spoil your chances of working with bigger and better brands in the same industry in the future.
3 Networking / Development platforms young ladies in Nigeria should know!
- She Leads Africa
- Your church’s women’s network (if applicable)
One language you wish you could speak
- I speak a bit of French but I’m not fluent yet
Advice for younger ladies on discovering and reaching their potential!?
- You need to understand yourself, know your strengths and weaknesses, know what gets your heart excited, know what comes naturally to you and know what brings you joy. One of my mentors Bankole Williams says that your purpose lies in your fascination and frustration. So, don’t just think working a 9-5 is the only way, you have some skills/talents that you can monetize. Don’t be afraid to fail, you need to try things out, every mistake is an experience with a lesson to be learnt.
As a brand, what do you hope Tuke Morgan represents - in 3 words!
- Excellent Service & Quality
Every time, I have these interviews, I get so pumped up! Now I totally think I can decided to pick up a musical instrument and become a pro in no time! Even if not the Sax of course, it's never too late to learn something new!
Ps: Have you guys noticed I always start these interviews with question of some sort about name? Hahaha. Check out all the other interviews here .