What makes you stand out from local producers?
Unlike most of my colleagues I emphasise on bringing out the beat people want to listen to besides advising artistes how they make their musical careers better. As a result, I have appealed to everal of gospel and secular music lovers locally and beyond. I also compose, shoot videos, do engineering mixing and marketing for the artistes.
How do you rate your studio?
It is one of the biggest in Africa and is capable of accommodating up to 50 musicians at the same time. I go out of my way to assist artistes who have what it takes but lack the money to record their music.
Who are the musicians you have worked with?
Outside Kenya, I have worked with several musicians such as Tanzania’s Christina Shusho. Locally, I have worked with Mercy Masika, Eunice Njeri, MOG, Daddy Owen, Bahati, Ringtone, Dany Gift, Elsey, Saint Stevo, Kizo B, Mary Githinji, Elly Jamila, Geraldine Oduor, Sammy Ngare. I have also worked with secular musicians such as Uncle Coniah and Rabbit just to name a few.
Why do you work with secular artistes?
Contrary to the notion that secular music is vulgar – I realised that it all comes down to the message. A good example is Mery Mela that has an educative and informative message – things that we know but for some reason are afraid to talk about. They include how young girls opt to have sex with elderly men and vice versa in the name of sponsors.
You have been applauded for taking local gospel across the borders — what is your secret?
My secret lies in my ability to come up with something unique and different from what other producers do. In recognition of my good work, I was awarded two Mwafaka Awards in 2013 and 2014.
Were you interested in music from an early age?
Music has always been part of my life since I was 14 when I played guitar for a year for AIC Church Choir in Kericho town. I later learnt how to play various instruments. I met two German missionaries at the church who were Impressed with my work and decided to sponsor my music education for nine months.
What next after your studies?
Upon completion of my studies I left for Greater Sounds in Johannesburg, South Africa, where I pursued a two-year diploma course in music training. I returned to Kenya and thenwent to Uganda where I produced music for upcoming gospel artistes at Cool Sounds for seven months. I also worked at Kapsabet Factory and then became a music producer at Regono’s Fasco Studio, Sabatia for two years.
What was your turning point?
I worked as a bass guitarist with Jamnazi Afrika band led by Ongoro and Awilo at Wagon Wheel Hotel – Eldoret. We toured many places but during my free time I would embark on recording contracts.
My turning point came one day in 2006 after a show at Kakamega Golf Club. I informed the two bandleaders that I wanted quit and there was no turning back.
What challenges did you face?
Despite post election violence that saw me relocate to Tanzania for a few months, I managed to buy my own music equipment and returned to Kenya and established Still Alive Studio at Uchumi Jogoo Road, Nairobi, with the help of a relative. Unfortunately, in March 2014 thieves broke into the studio and made away with equipment worth Sh1.7 million.
How did you manage to pick up the pieces?
By God’s grace, I managed to move on and opted to settle in Nairobi’s South B estate. I managed to replace everything that I lost and acquired more.
Let us in on your humble beginnings?
I am a Form Two drop out from a humble family background in Nyamira County. My family was poor and to make matters worse, my father, who was the sole breadwinner, was always down with various ailments which drained us financially. This forced me to perform menial jobs like selling bread and washing cars for between Sh100 and Sh150 a day to make ends meet.
Your take on local gospel music?
There is no denying that it has been commercialised and many musicians are in it for the money. As much as the message is relayed to different people, it is important for us to realise that at the end of it all, there is judgment day. This is when the farmer (God) will separate the chaff from the harvest.
Tell us about your family?
I am the third born in a family of seven. My parents are Daniel and Florence Boikwa. I am married to Phillis Wanjiru and we have a son.
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