We might still be in September but 2017 has been good to Irene Ntale’s music career. A lot more people outside Uganda know her name and her music; they jam to her hit single Kyolowoza without knowing what it actually means. Irene tells me that Kyolowoza means “what you are thinking about.” Check out more on what she said about herself and her music in the exclusive interview below:
What do you like most about Uganda’s music scene?
Ugandan music is versatile; it’s not just one particular sound. I don’t want to use the word identity but we don’t have an identity that is a Ugandan sound. We all do different genres; you can expect anything from Ugandan musicians, reggae, soul and sometimes they do something that is local and traditional. So really, it’s a mix of everything.
Let’s talk about your hit single Kyolowoza, what was the inspiration behind it?
Kyolowoza is a song about a woman who works to provide for her family while her husband is at home looking after their child. This is something that is not addressed enough but it happens. However, the main message is love, telling your partner that wherever you are, you still think about them and you hope they do the same. As far as inspiration goes, it wasn’t drawn from anything personal for me but from people around me who go through such experiences.
The song has featured in a number of countdowns on TRACE Mziki like Uganda 10, how does that make you feel?
I feel so good because the song has received a lot of exposure at home in Uganda and East Africa as well. I am glad the message of the song has got to so many people.
Any sentiments on Uganda 10?
It has helped us to evaluate our position, not necessarily who’s better than who but just to evaluate the music and see which song is doing good and why so that we can learn from each other.
What are your thoughts on the role of TRACE Mziki in promoting East African music?
Before TRACE Mziki, getting our music played on other platforms was a bit hard. With TRACE Mziki, our music is not just played by local stations in our various countries, we now have a platform that unites us all East African musicians.
Tell us more about your collaboration with Stonebwoy, Boogie Down, how did this come about?
We met on tour early this year and we talked about doing a song together. When I came back after the tour, I recorded the song, sent it to him and he recorded his part as well. We wanted to do a song that people can listen to and feel like dancing, we didn’t want to complicate the message and that’s why it’s called Boogie Down.
When can your fans expect the video?
Actually, I’ll be flying to Ghana in three weeks to shoot the video with Stonebwoy.
Talking about collaborations, which East African artist would you like to work with?
Definitely Sauti Sol. There is already something in the pipeline. I’ve always listened to them from way back, I love their music and I think their sound will blend well with my sound. Expect something from us in 2018.
Let’s talk about your latest song Stamina Daddy, what is the song about?
First of all, Stamina Daddy is dropping this week on Friday. It’s basically a song about this man showing his love how amazing he is, like he can hold her down and provide for her. But it’s also a feel good song to dance to in the club, it’s that kind of song you request from the DJ.
Which Ugandan artist do you look up to?
I wouldn’t necessarily use the word ‘look up to’ but I would say that Bebe Cool is quite amazing and he’s been consistent in his music.
Two things people don’t know about you?
I bite my nails, I don’t like getting them done because I feel it’s so stressful. Another thing, I actually like watching horror movies especially the Wrong Turn franchise.
Talking of horror movies, what do like to you watch on TV?
Obviously TRACE Mziki. I also watch E! Entertainment especially Keeping Up with the Kardashians. I am a fan of the Kardashians by default because they set fashion trends and as a musician you have to know what’s in style.
What’s next for Irene Ntale, any new projects your fans should look out for?
My main goal in 2018 is to take the music out of Uganda to Kenya, Nigeria and Tanzania. I am looking to do collaborations with different artists that are underway. If everything works out, 2018 is going to be the star year.