Female fans propose to me- Musician Kagwe Mungai

Musician Kagwe Mungai opens up to Shirley Genga on growing up in South Africa, his hit song, Kama Kawaida and why female fans love touching his hair

You started this year with a bang. How has the journey been since you joined the industry in 2011?

I can sum it up in one word; movie! So much has happened, you know, it’s like a roller-coaster? But it has been exciting.

The tears, joys, opportunities and lessons learnt. I remember being booed off stage when I started out. But today, thousands flock my concerts.   I’m still not used to it.

You describe your music as Afro-funky. What does that mean?

Afro-funky or Afro-kagwe means the same thing, and that’s that. I wake up in the morning and depending on my mood, I decide what kind of music to compose. One day, it may be reggae, the next, it may be hip-hop.

I don’t believe in confining myself to a specific genre. There’s too much good music out there to play with.

Apart from being an artiste, you are also a music producer. Which artistes have you worked with? 

I’ve worked with several big names such as Eric Wainaina who has been one of my greatest teachers, Sauti Sol, Vanessa Mdee, Jackie Chandiru, Khaligraph, Fena Gitu, Jaaz Odongo, Miss Karun Mungai, TheeMCAfrica (Formally known as Tiao Tripper), Victoria Kimani, Muthoni the Drummer Queen, GBO, and several others. This is something I love and I hope to continue being part of.

Where did you learn how to produce music?

I studied music at Southampton University in the UK.  However, I have learnt the ropes from studying producers. YouTube has also been a powerful tool in my journey. I advise anybody looking to start a career in music to use it.

Your new songs ‘Kama Kawaida,’ ‘African Lady’ and ‘Party Nation’ have been getting a lot of airplay. How did you manage to bring so many Kenyan artistes together?

African Lady is one of my favourite songs. It truly celebrates the African woman and more importantly, love! Kama Kawaida and Party Nation have also been received really well.

Although I produced Kama Kawaida, Blinky Bill produced Party Nation; the songs brought together Fena, Mayonde, Blinky Bill, Muthoni the Drummer Queen and me.

I must say that it was Muthoni the Drummer Queen who pretty much put us in the studio and the chemistry was electric. I guess you could say that I found a great group of friends that I truly enjoyed working with.

For a long time you were not signed to any music label, but now you are with Taurus Music. What inspired you to make the move?

When I first got into the music industry, I played so many roles. I was my own booking agent, publicist, accountant, graphic designer and lawyer, which took a lot of my time and energy that I should have spent creating music.

My signing with the African music powerhouse Taurus allows me to fully be creative.  A dedicated team of professionals handle the other details.

You are also involved in acting. Is it something you see a future in?

Acting is something that I have always been very passionate about. As a young boy, I acted in a number of plays.

My major break was in 2013 when I was featured in the movie, Lifestyle that aired on Africa Magic. This year, I have two Kenyan movies in the pipeline. Just watch this space.

You get a lot of attention from the ladies. What is the craziest thing a lady fan has ever offered you?

I have to say there’s a lot of love from my fans. The ladies, however, are more enthusiastic. The offers have varied from drinks, to marriage proposals, to quickies, and some, they just want to touch my hair! It’s all very entertaining.

So where do you draw the line with overly enthusiastic fans?

I believe some fans are not really serious, however when I notice that someone is serious, I courteously thank her and politely draw the line.

So, are you seeing someone?

No. I am very single.

You have a very interesting style of dressing. What inspires you?

Like my music, my style inspiration is constantly changing and evolving. I’m into themes right now, so I’m trying to be bold and to explore colours. I’ll be sharing more images of my new partnership with Deacons East Africa in the next couple of weeks.

When did you discover you had a passion for music and wanted to pursue a career in it?

I was born in Nairobi and at a young age, I was introduced to the older R&B and jazz by my mother, and my father’s musical tastes, including funk and new jack swing. In fifth grade, my family moved to Johannesburg, South Africa.

There, I was immersed into the jazz and pop rock culture. I formed a jazz and rock band and played drums as well as sang.

I guess you could say that at age 13, I began pursuing a career in music. At the age of 14, I was writing songs and developing ideas with a four-track recorder my older brother brought home one day.

By the age of 16, I was introduced to Steve Jean, an accomplished music producer from Uganda, who taught me the basics of production.

After high school, I went to study music at the University of Southampton in England and spent the rest of my university years learning my way around a recording studio and developing my debut mixtape EP, It Only Gets Better, with hit singles like Oleku, Get Down and Marry You, which I released after I returned home in 2012.