The reel hitmaker: Video producer behind Nyashinski’s ‘Now you know’ and Everlast’s ‘Gudi gudi’

Michael Odhiambo Photo: Courtesy

Pulse: How did you get involved with video?

VJ One: It was out of necessity. I was a DJ first so I needed to learn to make videos to promote by video mixes. I first started with photography after a few people noticed my photography on Facebook, then I slowly moved to videos. I remember my first video was called Switch bulb by some Ghanaian artiste and I have grown with every video after that.

P: What are the main changes that you have seen in visuals over time?

V1: Cameras have changed. We now have HD cameras that have completely changed the game. Kenyans are embracing production value, they are investing in the image they want in the videos. There are many video shows

P: What are some of the challenges you have had to deal with in this industry?

V1: Artistes’ attitude is the major problem. An artiste would rather pay a Nigerian video producer a million shillings but when they turn to me they have a (low) budget but want the same execution as the video director paid a million. We still argue about the vixens brought on set, their wardrobe and makeup, and some of the props we need. We need to change our attitudes to get a great video from our directors.

P: Word around town is that a lot of clients have been scammed by video directors, word of advice on how to avoid falling for such traps?

V1: We have heard of disturbing stories but before you crucify someone please research about the person. Find out what other people have to say about the stories that are making rounds. Second please understand the terms of engagement. P: Word around town is that now visual artistes stand to gain royalties from their work aside from the artistes…

V1: Photographers have copyright on their photos so likewise there is a conversation on content creators get compensated for their work the way music producers get royalties. I think artistes will challenge this but I feel that it is about time.

P: Which artistes have you worked with

V1: Papa Wemba, Demarco, Gyptian, Mr Vegas, Chuck Fender, Fuse Odg, Bebe Cool, Nyashinski, Naiboi, Victoria Kimani, Kristoff, Everlast, Rankaddah,

P: Of all your work which are you most proud of?

V1: Kalekye Mumo’s I am Okay. The work that went into it, the movement, it looks like a musical. Everlast’s Gudi Gudi which is a ‘let’s have fun on camera’ montage and my third one is Nyashinski’s Now you Know. The video is done in a desert in Nevada, he walks from a plain part of the desert and climbs to the high part. My proudest moment is when I show intent.

P: Walk us through your creation process…

V1: I listen to the song and try and get into their head and understand what space they were in and then I put them in the location that makes sense to them. I build up on it, props, and extras. On set I drink Guinness first then I start working.

P: Locally, what videos do you like?

V1: Thitimaa is very creative. And it was also at an affordable budget. Using the phone and for the content to go viral is amazing.

P: Which video directors do you look up to?

V1: Sesan, technically speaking, wins for me. His images are richer and Director X from the USA is almost there.

P: Who is the most stubborn artiste that you have worked with?

V1: Flameezy, He micromanaged the editing process to the point I didn’t care about how it looked, I was just happy to get him off my case.

P: What software’s do you like to use?

V1: My head is the best software but I mix Premier Pro and Da Vinci colouring and interplay between the two.

P: What’s your advice for upcoming video producers?

V1: Creativity trumps technicality. You can shoot the most technical video but if it’s not creative it will not go anywhere. Don’t wait for a good camera to get a great video; use what you have. A good example is Thitimaa.

P: You are also a DJ at a popular station…

V1: Yes I am the DJ behind Club Kiss which airs on the Friday and Saturday. We play everything

P: If you were to choose between the two…

V1: Director, anytime. Creating is cool. The toys are cool, the travel is cool and it earns me more money but most importantly I don’t get to be the main attraction.

P: Look into the magic ball and foretell things we should expect in 2017’s visual arena…

V1: My prediction is contingent on Kenyans attitude changing; we don’t need the government to force media houses to play 60 per cent local content. We need to demand it from the local stations. If we do that then local music will improve in quality.