Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Behind Chiziqa

Every life has a story. Every music video has a story. Here's mine...

My first music video called ‘Chiziqa’ launched last week at Tribeka in downtown Nairobi. Willy Tuva, the host said was said that it was the most well-attended launch they had ever seen with press, media personalities, dancers, fans and friends in attendance. Most people here in Kenya didn’t know that I sing and were not even sure if I could dance since mostly they see me sitting behind a desk critiquing dance crews rather than actually dancing myself.

Launching Chiziqa at Tribeka October 29th

It started at the beginning of this year. For a while I’d been wanting to enter into the Kenyan music industry but I didn’t know where to begin. In between filming I’d ask my fellow judges questions. They were very helpful with suggestions and ideas but the crux of the work was still up to me to find a producer.
Whenever I was at a music event and someone was introduced as a producer I would try to make conversation and tell them about my aspirations however the response was always the same. They’d look at me with a smug look on their faces as if to say, “Oh such a cute girl. Now she thinks that she can sing…”

Finally I met someone who said that they wanted to work with me. This was in April of this year. I would drive all the way to the Industrial Area from Limuru to record in the studio. I felt happy. We would shoot the music video in a month’s time. After a while I noticed that the producer would disappear on long trips and not contact me for a while. The reason was always the same; lost phones, family problems and other gigs.
I thought this was strange that the project was being delayed and began to realize that this person was only about taking money from me rather than seriously working on a project. I felt sad, misused and deceived. 
I had heard about Grandpa Records and their reputation for producing hits all across East Africa. I assumed that they were an exclusive club of sorts and that I would be treated in  the same patronizing manner that other Kenyan producers has shown me. I was surprised when I asked to meet with them that they gave me an address in Kibera. For one of the largest production houses in East Africa I expected differently. But my past experiences here have also taught me that the simplest of locations can produce beautiful work and industry without having the ‘look’ of a typical place of business.  

When we met it was all about business and acceptance. I asked him if my being not Kenyan was a problem since I had also had problems with that in the past. He laughed. A week later I was in the studio with Vesita working on what would later be called, Chiziqa. I had typed the song in my phone a while back and hadn’t had a chance to use it. It was one night while out with some very special girlfriends of mine where the inspiration came. We laughed and joked about ‘winding from your waist’ while enjoying the Afro-jazz and dancehall tunes of the live performances at Choices. I had jokingly promised in a bit of a tipsy state to produce a song called “Wind from your Waist.”

Vesita assisted me with parts of the song as the beat was coming together. While we were listening to the first verse and the chorus Refigah, the President of Grandpa Records ran up the stairs and said, “I hear magic coming from this studio. Let’s shoot the video in a week and a half.” 

Of course I said, “Yeah!” It was only a few hours later that I realized the significance of what I had agreed to and the preparations that were needed to make this video happen.

The day of the shoot was a whirlwind. My car was in the shop getting the engine repaired. We had stopped for gas on the way home a couple nights before and the attendant put diesel into our petrol engine. Of course the rest was history…

The car that was sent for me was 4 hours late. When he finally arrived I was seething mad and told the driver off Bermuda style only to find out later that he had been arrested on the way to pick me up and the police wanted a bribe. One of my dancers was pregnant during the shoot so she was extra hungry. I thought that we were headed to Thika but at the last minute the videographer got an artistic idea to film at a car garage instead. The dancers were complaining about dust and the makeup artist couldn't find the location.

When we finally got started everything began to flow like magic. I danced my heart out. We sweated, and danced some more and sang. The whole day I felt so free as if my singing, dancing and song writing had come together beautifully in one moment for all of the world to see. The word from the producers and camera men was that they had never seen a female artist in East-Africa dance like I did in their own music video. 
                              Behind the scenes of Chiziqa

The day was soon over. We waited. The video was edited. Then Westgate happened and I was glad for the six-week buffer between filming to launching so that I could begin to heal and create a new normal within myself after the narrow escape. 

Now Chiziqa is out and  is being received well by both Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Bermuda. Now that you know the story behind Chiziqa, have a look at the video and let me know what you think:)


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