DISCOVER MUSIC WITH AISHA POPAT

Published on: May 29, 2019

I am a singer/songwriter and YouTuber born and raised here in Kenya. I am an absolute travel and food enthusiast and an incredibly family orientated individual. I will try everything once and love a challenge. Anyone who knows me well will tell you that my big loves in this world are; family, friends (building relationships) music, dancing, travel, cheese and wine! I love the outdoors and especially enjoy pushing myself out of my comfort zone to see what I can achieve…in a nutshell

  1. People in your field that you admire?

Locally the musicians I admire are Tetu Shani, Yellow Light Machine and Sauti Sol.  I love Tetu especially because to me he isn’t just a great singer and musician but a storyteller. It is incredibly hard to write good songs and take people on a journey through lyrics and performance, but he does this effortlessly.

  1. What is your perspective on the creative industry?

The creative industry has grown leaps and bounds in the last few years. Away with the traditional and conservative ways of doing things and onto exploration and innovation.

  1. Do you think the government supports the creative industry?

I don’t think the government supports creativity the way they should. If they could only realize the creative potential we have in this Country, creativity and especially the music industry would be a higher priority. Our youth are bursting with talent and ideas and unfortunately we don’t have enough resources to nurture and give them enough air to breathe life into these opportunities. They need the knowledge and guidance, companies to organize platforms for learning and experimentation.

  1. What is your creative process like when you are working?

My creative process when trying to write a song actually starts where most good music starts… in the shower. Somehow it is where most melodies or ideas of lyrics begin. I’ll come up with something, jump out to record it on my phone and then I’ll sit down and try write something from those beginning ideas. Once the lyrics are down then I try matching it up with a feel and a melody. Strangely though my mind works more visually than anything else. The idea sets in motion visuals and I’ll see an idea of a story and video and then write lyrics and a melody to match it.

 5.It can be challenging for a young Kenyan to balance local identity with international influence. How do you think we can best keep and promote the Kenyan brand?

I feel we need an entire article to go through this subject. The challenges of being an artist are similar across the international board. Artists struggle financially because not a big enough importance is put on what we do. Unless you are one of the biggest performing artists in your Country, you don’t make enough from live performances and you definitely can’t make enough through downloads and now everybody streams so you need to keep up with the trends and keep up the marketing to make a decent living. Secondly we don’t have enough platforms here in Kenya to educate artists on copyright laws, distribution services and how to make your music a business. Thirdly I feel we don’t support each other enough and our media doesn’t support their artists enough. We should be predominantly playing out local artists’ music as they do in Nigeria. As well as give younger upcoming artists a leg up at any opportunity. This is the only way we can build the industry and show the world what we have got.

I have battled with this myself. Having an ‘international’ sound but trying to ‘bring it home’ and package it for the local market isn’t easy.  It’s difficult to form our own identity when most of the music we have grown up with and listening to through our media airwaves has an international influence. Mostly from the US or Nigeria. I definitely feel that we have a distinct style here in Kenya and the best way to promote it is to keep churning it out, to merge our sounds with international influences and push hard to get exposure internationally. We need to create a Kenyan identity through music.

  1. What are the benefits of collaborating?

As you may know, I am BIG on collaborations and there are business and personal reasons why I choose to collaborate so much. Firstly, we are always progressing and can always learn more. With every new artist you work with you learn more about particular genres, industry trends and tricks of the trade in different countries. A bounty of new knowledge awaits you.

  1. Any advice to youth interested in the industry?

From a business perspective, lets parallel collaboration to the idea of ‘twitter’. With each new collaboration you are increasing your spider web of networks and fan base. You get in front of different audiences and you never know how far your collaborator will go in the industry. It is also incredibly humbling and challenging as you see how incredible other artist are and so you strive to be better in your field yourself.

 

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