You came into the limelight as one third of the rap group Kleptomaniax. How did you guys meet and what made you decide to start making music together?
We were school mates. We went to Nairobi School together and we became friends. We were friends for quite some time and we got to know each other even outside of school.
You and your group members got your first record deal while you we’re quite young. How did you get the attention of Ogopa DJ’s?
At the time Ogopa DJ’s were a bubbling record label opening up on the scene, so we reached out . We presented our style of music to them, they liked it and they signed us.
What was it like working as part of a group along side Collo and Roba?
Amazing!!! We were in sync a lot and we blended so well, it was easy to try out different things.
You released your first single as a group, ‘Freak It’ in 2002 but you didn’t release your debut album M4E until 2005. Why did you take so much time between your first single and your first album?
At the time, the urban music industry was just starting out, and as much as FM stations had hit for a number of years, the market was more receptive to singles before they would accept an album. Plus an album is not cheap, especially at that time. A lot of logistics have to be in place; promotion , publicity, distribution, tours.
In 2007, at the height of your success, you left Kleptomaniax. Why did you leave the group? Was there a falling out?
There was no falling out. I just had to leave to take care of some family stuff.
Between 2007 and 2015, we didn’t hear much from you and then in 2016 you came back onto the music scene with a bang. Where were you and what did you do during your break?
I went to the US, where we had relocated as a family and I stayed there all through. I was working as a trucker for most of that time.
Why did you decide to come back to Kenyan music and are you surprised by how well your music has been received since you made your come back?
I always wanted to come back to Kenya, period. It was always in the plan. My sister and nephew are in Kenya and I missed them. Also, while I was away, a number of friends in the industry and I kept in touch and they convinced me to come and do this again.
I was shocked by how well my music was received and I felt and still feel honored by the reception to my music. The Kenyan music scene had changed quite a bit, plus I was coming back different from what people expected from me, so it was a risk but I had quite a bit of confidence too.
When you we’re in Kleptomaniax, your sound was Kapuka and you made a lot of party music, (which we loved) you even released a diss track, “Tuendelee” but your sound as a solo artist (which we also love) is completely different. Why did you decide to move away from that style of music?
If you really listen to the music we did as Kleptomaniax, yes I rapped, but listen carefully and you’ll realize that I did quite a bit of singing. I actually enjoyed that much more.
How would you say the entertainment industry has changed since you started in 2002?
There’s more ways to promote and sell your music, it is more acceptable as a career, people are willing to take more risks, the audience is more willing to give artistes a chance and revenue streams are growing.
Since your come back you’ve released a number of hits. Do you write your own songs and if you do, what’s your writing process like?
I write my own songs. Sometimes I just write plainly, sometimes I write to a beat, most of the times when I write I actually create the melody as I go along then I brief it to a producer to develop.
In large markets, song writing and publishing is big business, would you say that artists make money /royalties off song writing and publishing in Kenya?
In Kenya we are not yet at the point of really making money from song writing, though a few people are doing that. Most artists live off shows, sales and endorsements.
Your latest song ‘Bebi Bebi’ was produced by Ogopa DJ’s, are you still signed to them and is it different working with them now as a solo artist as opposed to when you were part of a group?
I’m not signed to them, or anyone for that matter. We just have always had an amazing working relationship and I think they are great at what they do.
In your come back song, ‘Now You Know’ you vent about a lot of things including how the pioneers of the music industry in Kenya have been treated, Kenyans love for Nigerian music, the rumors that certain blogs published about you being on drugs and struggling in America as well as how your hiatus made Kenyan fans appreciate you more. What was the motivation behind you making that song and what is the number one thing you wanted listeners to take away after listening to that track?
The motivation was simply all that you have said but it wasn’t just about me – it was about the industry as a whole. Sometimes people focus on the wrong things and I was hoping that we judge artistes by their art, give more chances to ourselves and believe in ourselves more.
A lot of groups from the 90s and early 2000s around the world are coming back together and doing tours and albums for their fans, would you ever consider getting back with your old group and making some new music for the fans?
It’s an idea we have toyed with but we all still first need to do our individual projects, then we can review that later.
Knowing what you know now, what advise would you give to your younger self, about life and getting started on a music career?
Work harder on creating your own identity and read more about the music business as a whole.
Nyashinski’s music is available for download and streaming on Mdundo, Songa , iTunes, Amazon, Tidal, Boomplayer and Spotify.
Easily the best artist in Kenya right now, great read.
Excellent interview, splendid read.
He worked as a trucker in the states but now ruling the Kenyan and African airwaves