As am tilting my camera focal lens and seing upcoming artists deliver magical moves in front of the camera am at peace with my soul. Never did I know that I could easily rub shoulders with respected directors in this competitive industry. Sharing ideas,delivering top notch videos and monetizing the art.
Reaching here is not accidental. Tears and sweat have been my bread and butter. My future was almost shuttered but my focus was centred on the price.
I hail from Keumbu district,Nyamira County. My father was polygamous with two wives. In my mother’s house we are 5 kids. Am the big boy among our siblings, two sisters and two brothers.
Diving into music becausemy passion back in 2013 was not easy. The turmoils I underwent were unbearable. Mpira Wa Sanaa was my debut project which I featured Wickie Dickie . Pushing the song was such a hurdle unlike today. Printing disks was the order of the day since internet penetration was shallow. A couple of times my music disks was trashed by several radio presenters. I had to rely on rare shows to establish a fan base and grow my brand.
Many upcoming artists without a team go broke at this phase in the industry, so did I. Music was not paying and I had no source of income. Something that I had passion for was not feeding me. Returning upcountry and restart my life again was the only option. Mbosso did the same when Yamoto band broke up. Plucking tea for Ksh. 50 became the order of the day. For the next 8 months I relied on menial jobs. Assuring my inner soul that all will be fine.
Alex Apoko Nyanchonga famously known as Ringtone had always inspired me since our golden childhood days. Ringtone’s mother,Christine who’s my stepmother,is the second wife to my father. She is currently a Member Of County Assembly in Kakamega County. For those who question my stepbrother’s Ringtone tribe,her mother is a luhya and our father is a Kisii. Alex Apoko was smart and had this strong sence of wit. The guy never gives up,he must have drawn his inspiration from the famous wrestler, John Cena. From an early age, Ringtone knew that to make it in the industry,one had to create a buzz.
Fortunately for him,he won a greencard and that’s how we parted our ways.
While in America, Ringtone met with various christians among them was Teddy Jakes. What many of the self proclaimed richest artiste in Kenya fans don’t know, this is when he coined his story of being an orphan. A story that has since been indelible.Out of sympathy, he received alms to help him kick start his music career. Promising to start a children’s home back home in Kenya, he received more than $30,000 in donations.
By now I had given up my music dream and embraced mysely as a general worker in Naivasha flower farms.
Little did I know that my step brother Ringtone will come back and look for me. On a particular day he showed up in Naivasha while am busy tilling flower farms. He took me like a prodigal son. Being concern about my then state, he cleaned me and created a new path for me. He took my to Nairobi.
Armed with big expectations, nothing could come between me and my brother. We started promotion of his brand. We were always busy to an extent that eating was almost not a need. Pushing your brand is not easy in the industry. It was bad back then and minus money,it’s worse.
We had to print t-shirts and disks for Ringtone’s songs. As I pointed earlier,since our childhood days,Ringtone was very intelligent. From when he started music,he knew his target audience. We toured numerous schools selling his music. I can’t recall the number of days we slept out. This is despite the fact that we had rented an apartment at Komarock,Phase 3B.
Under Alex Apoko,I learnt the music business to some extent. Yeah we sold his t-shirts and disks but getting some money from him was an uphill task. I credit my school knowledge to him. After my uncle who doubled as my guardian passed on,my dream of completing my studies was shattered. That’s how I quit school and became a casual laborer. It was Ringtone who took me back to school and registered me as a private student. That’s how I managed to sat for my KCSE.
The same guy I was looking up to, taught me how to drive. I was his official driver during his campaign back in 2012. He was vying for Kitutu Masaba parliamentary seat. He failed terribly and become number 8.
However, we had a clash on one aspect. At no particular time would he allow me to record music. He solemnly attended studio sessions without my company.
As a matter of fact, I did write the famous song, Pamela. He liked the idea of the song and we planned to record it. Out of malice,he recorded the song with Sq Blue behind my back.Questioning his move,I was deceived that it was a demo. I pity upcoming artists whose work are sampled by established artistes and are later busted that they are chasing clout.
So now Pamela is out and it’s doing well. Thanks to his vicious ways and cooked destitute kid story. Once a new artist has a breakthrough song,many opportunities present themselves. With Pamela now a national anthem,the case wasn’t exceptional.
At this point, am down and my brother Ringtone is not recognizing me at all. He turned me to a mere bodyguard.
By my own mean,I decided to fight for my space in the music Industry. I did Waridi in the same studio he did Talanta featuring Maji Maji. After learning that I had already done a song, he was furious. We had a squabble ,asking my source of money. He was so jealous that he never wanted me to do anything with my music passion. I heeded his concerns about my music and took a back sit.
Arguing with him was to render me houseless since I was staying at his place. Pamela video was done minus my knowledge . He saw my more of a barrier on hia ministry. One day we visited Charles Njagua Kanyi alias Jaguar . Back then he used to stay in Buruburu. Funny enough, Ringtone left me there. These are some of the many humiliation that struggling artists face. Jaguar adviced me to create my path and stop relying on relatives for support. According to the the Kipepeo singer,only 11% of relatives will help you. Those enlightening words still ring in my mind to date.
Triggered by passion and strong desire to record music, I had to raise money. Without any help coming forth ,I found refuge in my former working town, Naivasha. Grinded for two years in a hotel cooking porridge and slashing. On the third year I was sacked . This was after causing an accident with the company’s vehicle. I had sneaked it with contempt..
Life was unbearable. My sister come in hand and agreed to accommodate me. Luckily I secured another job at Simba Lodge in Naivasha. My role was to cook for workers and a bit of gardening.
I had accumulated enough cash for recording and Hip Hop Agenda was out. Just like my first song,pushing my second video that I featured Kalicha,was hectic. Almost everybody that I presented my music to wanted money to do me a “favour.” I had to retire my ego and send the song to Ringtone who was smart in the streets than me. Having nothing to do with me,he said the song was not good enough to be pushed.
That was another music disappointed. I really sacrificed a lot . With the little salary I was getting,I enrolled a Utalii College taking cooking classes on part-time mode. It was not easy at all.After my graduation, my salary doubled. The sacrifices I made started paying off. I was now a certified chef.
Looking for greener pastures for my now career, I ducked out to Dubai. Like I pointed earlier, Ringtone was my source of inspiration from way back. We studied together from class two to form two,he taught me a lot of stuff. His untimely success even inspired me more in spite of his contradicting narrative. I wasn’t willing to fake anything unless it was my confidence. While in the United Arabs Emirates, I was thinking of a masterplan when I return home. It is said, a fool with a plan is way better than an intelligent person without a plan.
I returned back home and did Born Town . The project costed me an investment of almost $2000 that’s 200,000 Kenyan Shillings . Hiring cameras,props name them. The Kenyan entertainment industry has not changed,everyone needs a share of your cake. Minus proper bankroll management, an artists can easily fall into depression or quit music as well.
Enjoy My Song Born Town
I had made a substantial amount of money by now. Struggled more than a decade in this industry with just two videos out. I wanted to raze the past and rebrand. Do everything professionally and raise a new version of Viva Jeez. To shoot my videos whenever I wanted. Giving the best quality to my fans and the industry at large.
I inquired the cost of owning the shooting equipments and that’s how I started buying my equipments. Don’t get fooled that I was loaded. I started small buy buying a camera til now that am fully equipt. Right now am in a position to shoot a high quality video weekly.
I understand the strife upcoming undergo. Am here to help them achieve their dreams. To ease the pain of having deep pockets to get quality videos, Viva Jeez Empire was born. Working with expert and experienced directors to bring spectacular high quality videos in Kenya. With vast personal experience, am mentoring newbies in the industry. Marketing and promoting their music is what makes me complete. Talk about Mbogi Genje,Boondocks Gang,Kapi and other upcoming artists.
I have hardly been in the industry and my effect has been felt. There is nothing fulfilling like your brand getting good reception. Working with established names like Timmy Tdat,Brown Mauzo, Alikiba,Prezzo, Nadia Mukami, iLogos Music and the list is endless.
I believe that your career is your world. Am investing in machines and top notch video equipments. Am just beginning and great things are on the way. Who knows what future is for Viva Jeez Empire ? Maybe shoot international music or even end up in Hollywood Movies. Because I want to leave a mark and a legacy in the industry am open for sponsors, business deals and brand partnership. Together we can do great things. As am shooting my current video with my drone,am convinced that the sky is just the lower limit.