Many a times, he is never understood. Most times, he is not understood at all. Recently, while looking for a suitable residential house, a landlord could not let him stay at their premises for fear of him “coming home late” or “making noise” (like all artists do).However, when Ubunifu Hub Machakos was about to open its doors, he came through, found a home and settled. With a clear mission written all over his face, he turns up religiously every morning to nurture his artistry.
When he talks he has more energy than a windmill. When he plays music, he has the ability to vocally transcend all the way to the sky, and also go as far down as the bottom of the sea. His passion is relentless, at times doing one song over and over for hours. During one of this rehearsal sessions, Muindi Kisio caught up with him and penned this article, later was edited by Mwl. Gregg Tendwa, and spiced with photos courtesy of WendyK Photography.
Tell us about yourself?
My name is Joshua Owenga. Born and raised in Siaya County. I started my musical career early in my childhood as a dancer in my local church. I joined professional music after my high school education in 2010. Then in the same year, I meet Global Youth Groove which has been supporting me up to date in my music development space.
What motivates you to keep going every day?
After high school, I didn’t get the chance to pursue college education. Such gave me a motivation to pursue a different path in life. The drive that has kept me moving everyday is the dream of wanting to be the best in the music industry. The gift of voice is also a motivating factor that keeps me going on and on. Moreover, nature offers me an inspiration to the kind of music I do.
What are some of challenges you face in this industry?
One of the challenges I have encountered so far is people failing to understand my style of music – the Rock Re-Benga style. Secondly, people are failing to capture the message within my songs as all of them carry along a positivity message which is dear to my heart.
What do you mean by the Rock Re-Benga style of music?
The Rock Re-Benga style of music is a new style of music I am developing where I incorporate the rock beats; reggae inspirations and African Benga touch altogether. The combinations of these 3 categories bring out this newest style of music.
What is a typical day like for you?
I always wake up at 5.00 am in the morning. I do jogging for around 2hours.Then I have my breakfast. After breakfast I head straight to the studio. I begin by doing vocal training. I then start my practice by singing existing songs – my favorite being Bob Marley hits. Practice and more practice is always my routine. My day ends at around 9 pm.
Where do you see yourself in 5 Years from now?
In 5 years time, I believe I would have made myself a global brand. I also foresee my style of my music would be at least well known and appreciated by many people.
What is your take about the music landscape in Kenya?
I appreciate the fact that the Kenyan music is rapidly growing and well received by a good number of the population. But, still, much needs to be done in bringing out the different styles of music played by Kenyan artists.
Do you get nervous before a performance?
(Laughs) .At the start of my performances, I used to get nervous facing the big crowds. I remember an incident where at the stage I got confused and none of the songs I had practiced could come out. But now I am transitioning into a Real Adult Musician. However, such are some of the ‘itches’ we- the musician have to overcome on our daily basis.
Why did you prefer to reside in Machakos County?
Machakos has always been my dream land. People here are also receptive to change (positive).That is one of the reasons why I chose to move to Machakos. Secondly, there is a sense of security here and less noise compared to Nairobi. Machakos is home to me. My heart, my energy is all here.
How do you relate with Ubunifu Hub Machakos and what expectations do you have for them?
Ubunifu hub Machakos has been very supportive in music dream. They have always seen the potential in me. They have also given me a chance to practice my songs in their rehearsal studio. In addition, they cater most of my bills here from accommodation to meals. Through my association with them also, I have had an opportunity to connect and interact with the local Kamba people and their culture. Brilliant!
What is your Personal Advice to other upcoming Musicians?
Everything in music revolves around the voice. Every day I wake up to work on my voice before I begin my practice. So, it is very important for anyone wishing to join this industry to nurture his or her voice all the way from the studio to the stage.
Why do you believe so much in live music performance?
Live music to me is a tool for change. It also gives me a close interaction with your audiences. It emits energy where both I and my audience can relate notwithstanding the beauty of the message in my songs.
Where can we find you?
I am on face book and instangram as Joshua Owenga .My email address is; firstname.lastname@example.org. My twitter account and website coming soon too! Kaboom……
About the interviewer; Muindi Kisio.
Muindi is a social democrat, born and brought up in a small village called Kombe slopes in the lower eastern part of Kenya. He strongly believes in the African Art and Culture and gathers immense inspiration in writing about such. He holds a bachelors degree in communication and public relations from Maasai Mara University. Currently he in interning at Ubinfu Hub Machakos, where he is coordinating the artist in residency program in addition to overseeing media and public relations.