Rkay; On Matters Music Production

RKay (Image courtesy of prisk.or.ke)

Robert Kamanzi also known as RKay or Mwanabuja is a music producer, singer, song writer,  performer and chairman of the Performers Rights Society of Kenya (PRISK).

Besides having worked with top African artists among them Oliver MtukudziJoh Makini, Chidimna,  and  Blu3,  his productions have received recognition in several awards such as MTV MAMA, Kilimanjaro and the Channel O Music Awards.

I got a chance to talk to him some time back, and this is how our conversation went down.

What does it take to be a good music producer?

You have to be patient because you will be working with artists, who think and do things differently,  as it should be within their territory. Being a producer calls for one to be a guider, as you spend a lot of time with  artists in studio and you get to see them at their most vulnerable moments. Some will break down and you have to encourage them. You also need wisdom that makes you  sensitive enough to notice the emotions and thoughts an artist may be having, know how to handle that and be able to deliver for the best results.

 How do you remain relevant in the industry even after years of being here?

I have never been one to follow trends because if that was so, once a trend is phased out, I would follow. Instead, I ride on my own time which helps to fill the gap that is left in between changing trends. Simply put, I  do timeless music. Also, when it is your gift, you will do it well.At the end of the day, I strive to be the best I can be and the rest will take care of itself.

You work with different artists with different styles of music and different personalities. How do you ensure that they  maintain their individuality while at the same time combining that with your input for the best results?

I take every artist as they are and I am always open to finding out more about their individual personality, and allowing it to contribute to what I have to offer. That said, I love exploring new things. Discovering an artist’s personality is one of the ways that brings out excitement in me. So we end up doing something that is tailored and works for an individual artist.

 How about instances when an artist wants to record a song that you probably do not believe in?

One of the biggest responsibilities of a producer is offering guidance to an artist and having been in the industry for as long as I have been, I have learned a lot. It is my responsibility to share that knowledge with artists. An artist may be good but sometimes their perception of things isn’t correct due to wrong information. Providing guidance based on my knowledge helps an artist have a product that is musically correct; something that can take them further.

For the longest time, you remained unchallenged as a top music producer in the region. Times have however changed and we are now having the emergence of other equally talented producers. What makes you stand out from any other top producer?

When you work well with people, they will always want to keep working with you.  People would rather have a great experience than the greatest skill but with lots of headaches. I try my best to provide the best working environment for my artists, which sets me apart.

Having been in the music industry for over a decade now, what are some of the most notable changes that you have noted in the  industry over the years?

One of the biggest changes has been the growth of infrastructure that has enabled the music industry to flourish. We have also seen laws coming into place to make things more favorable for our artists, in terms of copyright and business. All this have led to maximization of profits in this sector which is slowly becoming attractive to investors. Musicians are now earning from their work, unlike before.

Changes you would like to see in Kenya’s music industry…

We need Kenyans to be more appreciative of our own. Our talent may not be perfect, but it is good enough and we can only get better. As a nation, we need to unlearn the culture of throwing away the baby with the bathing water. If you attend your child’s school parents’ day and it turns out that your neighbor’s child is doing better than your own, don’t cheer for them to a point that you forget about your own child. Instead,encourage your child, go home and try to figure out why the neighbor’s child is doing so well. It could be that they wake up an hour earlier for studying before preparing to go to school. Encourage your child to learn from it, so that tomorrow, they can do better. Appreciation encourages even the one who is struggling to want to do better.


P.S: Special thanks to my friends Rael Nabalayo and Ken Bonyo who helped me with the interview…Had it in video format but I lost my audio (darn you technology!)









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