The front-rower and musician talks us through bad beats and good eats
Downtime with… Wasps prop Biyi Alo
More and more people are listening to your stuff now. Where did your love of music start?
I’ve always loved listening to songs and I always used to write poems. About things I was feeling or thinking. Then one day in 2018, I said, ‘Right, if I recite one of these poems with a bit of production behind it, could it be a song?’
What were those early attempts like?
I don’t do a lot of production because I’m fortunate enough to have some friends who are very talented with instruments and all the software. But yeah, there’s some shocking stuff that hopefully nobody else will ever hear!
Who inspired you?
I’m inspired by a whole range of people, mainly UK artists that are stepping out. Anybody trying to be a trailblazer for a certain type of sound, I like to follow them. But I feel like nobody’s journeys are the same and it takes a lot to step out with a new sound, or to speak about certain topics. So I try to keep my ears open.
And on the pitch?
You know what, I like how Alfie Barbeary plays for us. I just love how physical he is, how much he wants the ball in his hands. He almost runs like there’s nobody in front of him.
There are a lot of people who think they’re jokers… Gabriel Oghre is quite funny, he can always make me laugh. Elliott Stooke fancies himself and has one-liners. We don’t have many pranksters in the squad.
Can any of your team-mates sing?
I haven’t heard many people sing and I’m not sure if people are shy. But I suspect Sam Wolstenholme has got a little sweetie voice to him. He’s always doing little jigs around the training ground and he sits near me, so I hear little bits.
Even if he doesn’t have the pipes for it, we could market him well because he’s quite a good-looking guy, get him in some edgy gear, we’ll duet.
Your most embarrassing moment on the pitch?
There was a training session a few weeks ago and I made this amazing break – obviously I’m going to talk it up now – but it was a line break, through the heart of everybody. I got a two-on-one and I threw the ball about ten metres forward. It didn’t resemble a normal pass at all and it was hands on heads.
And every training session is filmed these days…
Exactly! People have clipped the film and have sent it to me whenever they feel like I need a check or a reminder. It’s a position, as a tighthead, you don’t find yourself in a lot. And I found myself in it.
Any hidden talents, apart from music?
I do make amazing pasta. I make this creamy chicken and mushroom pasta with Parmesan and it’s kind of my speciality. If anyone comes over, that’s what I’ll make for them. I’m good at cooking I’d say – I’ve got a chef’s eye.
Who’d you like to be stuck in a lift with?
It’s probably going to be a singer. There’s a singer I love at the moment called Orion Sun. She’s got the most amazing voice, she’s so sweet and I just feel like hearing her voice.
Good acoustics in the lift, we bet…
The reverb will be crazy, yeah!
When I can see you eating that’s fine, but if I can hear it, hear the food moving around in your mouth, I’m done. I don’t participate in that.
Which superpower would you want?
I’d love to be invisible. But not forever. I would want to switch it on and off. The Grammys were on the other day and I would love to go in for free and just chill, to just be in these places where nobody is really bothering me.
If your house was on fire, what item would you save first?
My laptop. It’s got my music on it, some films on it. I don’t really need my phone. I would be happy if I could disconnect from social media for a sec and just make some tunes.
Which team-mate would you like to be?
You know what, Elliott Stooke. Just for a little bit because he gets so much grace on a lot of things. Like he can do something very simple and he will get plaudits for ages! The coaches love him. He gets away with a lot so I want to see what it’d be like to just be the favourite child.
Your three dream dinner party guests?
Tyler the Creator (rapper), because I just want to see what his brain’s like. I feel like he could make people laugh and make dinner quite enjoyable. I’d like LeBron James there as well.
And then my mum. Me and my mum don’t really go for dinner a lot together, so I think it would be a nice opportunity to take her for dinner, with a couple of people I admire, all smiling and happy.
What’s on the dream menu?
I want a good-quality steak frites, a bit of red wine, and for dessert we’ll have a sticky toffee pudding with a Madagascan vanilla ice cream. I do love food!
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
The coaches who have got the best out of me are the ones who give you reassurance that you’re here for a reason. So you don’t overthink anything. It’s important to not let imposter syndrome creep in. It’s best to just focus on yourself and never let anything distract you from working hard.
And how would you like to be remembered?
I can’t put my finger on any sort of accolades or achievements, but I want to be recognised as someone who did try hard at everything and was quite open-minded. Someone who challenged people’s thoughts about things in everything that I do. I want to be able to express myself and I want to be known as authentic.
This article originally appeared in the June 2022 edition of Rugby World.
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