Kenyan artist using music for women empowerment

Music is part of life says the winner for the Marck Foundation Media Recognition Award for the 2021 Music Category. His song Be somebody addressed the theme for girl empowerment in education got him the award which he says was a pleasure to have. Our reporter Judy Mwongela got in touch with Denis Kimani Wanjiku to know more about his music career as well as his thoughts on some trivial question in the Music industry for the upcoming artist with a taste for music.

Who is Denis?

Denis in a simple term is a singer, songwriter and also a music producer.

What would you define music in your own words?

I’d say music is life in all aspects. Though some won’t understand why that is so but I can just say its part of me as an individual and still applies to the world itself .Even in the other forms of art you’ll get music has  its own place and that’s why ill define it as life.

How long have you been doing music?

I started way back in 2014 straight out of high school that’s when I tried it out professionally but before that I was still practicing and writing just familiarizing myself with it and as the interest grew I decided to do it full time.

What genre of songs do you specialize in?

I gravitate to music naturally from a long time having an ear for good music. I would find myself like listening to different types of music without really pinning one against the other like how people say I like this and I don’t like this. Sampling through the different genre of Hiphop, reggae, benga you name it, I realised they all genuinely arouse my intrest in them and so I identify myself as a multigenre artist.

Tell us about the song you won an award for in the Merck more than a Mother Media Recognition Award and how it came about?

The song was called be somebody .I just saw an advert on a music platform for a competition and decided to give it a try. I did my own research and came up with the song which I produced on my own .I stuck to the theme of girl empowerment in education which I think was a better way of showing my support to the cause.

What did it mean for you to win such award in an international platform?

It was good to get the recognition for that award being the first one ive got in this music journey of mine.I actually had doubts about it and would even say i thought I dint get enlisted at all as a finalist but when i was called it really shook me and I can say am just greatful to be able to communicate such educative message in relation to social issues affecting the society in a way understandable to the young generation through that song.

What other roles would you say music has in the society?

Music acts as a wake up call, pointing out the cracks which are in the society even though people are oblivious to them. The social evils that still do exist in the community are not invisible to the eye but still people don’t take them serious .But somehow using a medium like music ensures the message is received by a wider audience in different settings and age group. And that makes it more effective so the audience would choose to do what they want with the information.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced when you first started your musical carreer and how did you get past them?

Finance is mostly one of the major challenges. When you start it you do it because you really like it and want to do it but then along the way you realize it’s a business and it needs a lot of money spent on production ,good PR and other needs. You’ll get a good number of the young artists aren’t well off for they come from backgrounds where its not easy to fund their dreams. Its a risky business if your doing it full time .It passed through the same stress and got to understand that having something else to keep you afloat when you are not earning from it is really necessary .So I studied production and got extra skill set to not only earn separately from my own music but also learn more on the craft. I can now not only produce my own content and other peoples but also know how to record and cut my vocals to cut on cost and I realized you get to learn more on what good music entails .So I like stepped  back a bit and try to improve on my content first so that even though I don’t produce more when I do its something of a good quality.

How many songs have you produced so far apart from Be somebody?

Be somebody was like my first trial on producing my own song and I havent yet produced any other. The ones ive got are all demos on my songs but I do produce songs for diffent artist at the moment as I take my time to make sure I do better in each of my own written songs 20 plus to be exact.Hopefully I’ll do so soon.

Does music pay?

Yes and no .It first depends on what are you in it for, is it the money, is it fame or for the passion of the the craft.Everyone would look it diffrently but I’d say it pays and again it doesn’t but one thing that is constant is that it takes time.  For when you look at the industry the percentage of kenyans earning from it is like less than 5% especially for the young artists.For what sells in music depends on likes \streaming and with it you get endorsments ,you get to be called to perform and other paying deals .But before that you need to invest  in it and lets say your blindly doing it full time and still depend on the cash you’ve got ,you’ll  just be going for a loss.And again we cant really say weve got reliable system where you can earn from royalties .So for one to really get something in music its necessary you earn somewhere else so that you can reinvest back in it and with time youll get your returns .

What advice would you give someone whose about to persue it as well?

Take your time to develop your talent and be good at it as you follow through the trends not only in the country but also world wide for it will give you a bigger perspective on things.But again understanding the business side interms of copyrights and the legality of the industry is very key.Though I’ve observed a lot of artist are not intrested in that through the interactions I’ve had with them and still that’s the backbone of the music industry .It’s very necessary if you want to get proper returns from music.

What legacy would you want leave?

Legacy for me is what am doing at the moment.I don’t have a certain objective or more accurate don’t have a say on what it would be in the future when am not here because the people who knew me would be the ones to write it down as per what they each knew me am living in the moment doing the best that I can and making memories now, the future is not mine to know.

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