Many a times he passes for a clueless shy boy who speaks only when he is spoken to, and often in very very low tones. Like many artists, he is never outspoken about his achievements, until he gets his hands on the bass guitar and smiles, then you realize that he is as lethal.
During the opening of Ubunifu Hub in Machakos, he played the bass guitar for a total of 5 acts in one night. He set up a band to back up Machakos artists in a record 2 days, and currently he is responsible for the #BringBackLiveMusic program.
He plays a multitude of instruments, and is keen on mentoring as many young musicians and instrumentalists as he can possibly find. A strong believer of the potential of the African Arts and Culture, he ws cornered to give this one-on-one by Munidi Kisio, later edited by Mwl. Gregg Tendwa.
Tell us about yourself?
My name is John Udulele. A musician, a bass guitarist, percussionist who also plays the piano and nyatiti. Born and raised in Nairobi but partly lived in my rural home, Siaya County.
What’s your background into music?
I started professional music around 7 years ago. I play different types of music from afro-fusion, benga music and even afro Jazz. Basically what I play is the African and experimental music.
What do you mean by experimental music?
Experimental music is simply the kind of music where one tries to ‘blend’ different music to come up with new form of that combination.
Where do you get your inspirations to you music?
I get my inspiration from the experiences of day to day life. The inspiration could be from the people around, nature or even objects.
What are some of the recent projects you have been involved in?
This year, I have worked on a couple of projects. In the start of the year, I did a project with Abakisimba where we produced an album called kazi, a collection of songs meant to motivate and inspire people and make them have sense of pride in their jobs.
Earlier this year, I also did a world peace song with several other musicians from both Kenya and UK. Subsequently, I am working on a project with bengatronics with an aim of combining benga and electronic music. I am also part of Ubunifu Machakos hub where I am working on #BringBackLiveMusic program as a master tutor. Again, I was lucky to be selected as the African representative worldwide musician in the USA.
What challenges have you encountered so far?
Challenges are always part of human life. But to me, every challenge I encounter, I take it as a normal trial and turn it into a principle in life.
Is your family musical?
No. Actually I am the only one pursuing a career in music. My other siblings are all into academics.
Do you get nervous before a performance or a competition?
Before, I used to get a little nervous. I remember an incident where on stage, I couldn’t utter a single word. I was too nervous about that performance. But now I am more confident in all my performances.
What do you dislike about your work?
Actually what I dislike most is lack of preparedness when going for any performance. I hate underperformance and giving anything below my expectations.
What do you think about the state of art in Kenya?
Kenya is full of talent. The art industry in Kenya is also on the rise. Most of the serious artists can now actually pay their bills through art.
What do you like about your work?
Being in control of what I create is one thing I admire most. In addition, being in this industry, I have had the opportunity to interact, connect and appreciate different cultures across the world.
How do you balance your music with other obligations – relationship, children, and job?
My day usually starts around 5am in the morning. I do personal meditation, have my breakfast, and reply to all my pending emails and then head off to the rehearsals space. I end my day at around 8pm most of the times. On the question about relationship, Udulele is purely single as of now.
What is your message to the upcoming artists?
My message to them is simple. Invest in your skills and in education. Such will enable you have a fair playground to compete with any other artist both locally and internationally.
How can we find you?
I am on face book as Udulele John. Not yet on twitter or instagram.
PS: Udulele is available to provide master classes to already practicing musicians and personal tuition to those enthusiasts willing to learn the basics of music as well as percussion, guitar and piano. To book your slot send email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get back to you.