Date: 13 May 2017 12:01
How he got his stage name.
The name Majic Mike was suggested by DJ Stylez when I joined their studio, Red Republic as a sound engineer. It’s a feel-good name. We borrowed the name from the Kenyan DJ who played in the 80s, and this was a few months before the movie Magic Mike came out.
Being born poor and studying at a high-end school.
I was born and raised in Soweto (Nairobi) before we moved a couple of years later, and I would say that that shaped the person I am today. My dad worked at Ruaraka Academy, which was a high-end private school at the time. I was the kid from the slums when I joined, and my classmates were from international countries. It took a whole two years for me to adjust to that environment.
His school and music career are intertwined.
I realise now how much influence the school had in my life right now because if I wouldn’t have gone there, I wouldn’t be doing music. Class One was very defining in my music career, thanks to Ruaraka Academy.
Venturing into singing and sound engineering.
I started singing professionally in 2011, when I was studying sound engineering. It’s really hard to get a school that teaches sound engineering in Kenya. A friend, David Omondi, who was a sound engineer in the United States took me under his wing and mentored me for about six months. I took up an online course at the Audio Institute of America.
I got my ears pierced at 13 years. My parents definitely did not approve of it, but they got used to it. I was the last born rebel with the piercings and the plaited hair. My sister convinced them to let me be because it was just a phase in my life. The time came when I got tired of the phase and I cut my hair and stayed without the studs for a while.
Music is a career.
I do music full time. I’m a producer and I own my own studio. So I basically produce and perform.
Groove Awards recognition
It was a really exciting feeling being nominated and winning the Afro Pop category at the Groove Awards last year. It was the first time the category was put out and I was competing with big guys like Kelele Takatifu and Daddy Owen, so winning was a dream for me, really.
His music’s impact on fans.
I don’t really have a specific exciting moment. Everything keeps changing for me, so let’s just say I have many small moments that I treasure. But moments that really stand out for me is when a random person walks up to me and tells me how much my music has inspired them. I hardly know how good my music is until I meet that person who tells me how much it has helped them in a certain situation. I get more testimonies in my inbox than the normal fan messages.
Does exclusively gospel music.
I got saved when I was in class seven. I had a slipperly moment somewhere in high school for like a year or two, but I got serious with my salvation toward the end. I have been doing gospel music all through my music career.
Artistes must keep evolving to survive.
Music and culture are constantly evolving. Music is influenced by culture really, and vice versa. Times are changing and artistes need to be open to the change. Most of the time, it is the artistes who are open to change that survive in the industry. R-Kelly and Kirk Franklin are still in the game because they are open to the evolution in music.
Needs a team to manage his career and business.
I manage my brand by myself, but I think I need a manager. Being a producer, an artiste and further more managing my own brand is really challenging. It’s hard, however, because one normally needs people who understands their vision and what I’m trying to accomplish with my music. It’s not about the money and awards at first. To get my team, I need people who understand what I’m trying to do. Everything else is defined by that.
It would be good to have someone work on the technical part as I work on being a creative for my brand. From a secular reference, the best artiste-manager relationship I have seen is between Eminem and his manager, Paul Rosenberg. They have been together even before Eminem got signed by Dr Dre. There was a time when Eminem got him to try and do the music with him, but as Paul said in a recent interview, he realised a long time ago that Eminem’s place was in the studio and his place was outside.
New song "Umenitosha" is two songs in one
The interesting thing with my most recent song Umenitosha is that I had two songs that I had wanted to produce. I wanted to infuse many musical aspects in it, which is clearly evident with how I infused the jazz and the afro beats. I recorded it a month before releasing it.
Release album by December.
I am currently working on completing my album, which is about three songs away. I want artistes like Kagwe Mungai to produce the remaining songs though. I’ll hopefully release the album by the end of the year, because it’s really challenging to do so now, mostly because of the election period.
Artistes he loves and would want to work with.
Locally, it would be with Kagwe Mungai in production. He is a really talented artiste. Internationally, I would love to work with Kirk Franklin and Papa San, who is a Jamaican reggae, dancehall and gospel singer. This might change any time though, because I might wake up, listen to music from other artistes and decide that they are who I would love to work with. It’s the dynamics of life.