Today I am starting a new segment called Mics and Beats which will appear Bi-monthly. For this first Mics and Beats I have two of my favourite musicians Charles Ademson aka Makadem and Allan Wanjohi as my first guests. Let’s find out more about Makadem.
Makadem, also known as the Ohanglaman is a talented musician and vibrant performing artiste from Kenya. His stage presence, charismatic persona and powerful vocal delivery, has had him likened to the legendary King of Afro Beat, Fela Kuti.
When and why did you start playing?
I was born an artist. I sang in school and in church but as a career I began in 1996 as an entertainer in beach hotels in Mombasa and Diani Ukunda playing covers in an acoustic set with my brothers.
Which instruments do you play?
I play acoustic guitar, Nyatiti (Luo lyre), Kalimba (thumb piano), and Kayamba (a mijikenda shaker)
Do you have a formal musical education?
No I’m an African musician, self-taught.
Thinking back to early childhood what was your first experience with music for the first time like. What song do you remember most as a child?
We danced during Christmas or whenever there was a party at home. I remember Keep it up by Slim Ali.
You grew up in Mombasa and moved to Nairobi to be a musician here. What factors influenced your decision to relocate?
I came as a musician already looking for greener pastures. In 2003 showbiz was beginning to take shape thus the beginning of music as a business and emergence of cartels too. I realized that being out of Nairobi was not favorable.
What musical influences did you have a child?
We had a lot of turn tables at home and my dad loved singing and my sisters too.
How is the music different from what you listen to now?
I listened to more of local stuff then than now where majority of music surrounding me is foreign.
What made you first realize that you wanted to pursue a career in music?
It was by default actually, then I just carried on since if you can recall I told you I am a natural.
Who are your favourite musicians now?
Michael Jackson, Fela Kuti, Burning Spear, Sipho Mabuse, Chico, Sam Fan Thomas, Nyboma, Robert Kelly, Busy Signal, and Asa!
CD’s? Thriller by MJ
How do you handle mistakes during a performance?
Rehearsals minimize mistake but also make you know how to deal with mistakes. Keep calm to avoid panicking.
What advice would you give to beginners who are nervous?
Make as many appearances as possible as that is what makes you know how to deal with stage fright although it never goes away it’s controlled with experience.
How often and for how long do you practice?
My personal rehearsals without the band take two hours per day. Band rehearsals may go longer depending on what we want to do.
Do you teach music?
No! I don’t teach music.
How would you describe your music to somebody who has never heard you play before?
My music is a cocktail of many Afro beats. It’s up tempo, upbeat contemporary African music.
What can people expect to see at your live performance?
An electrifying African musician
What do you think your biggest break or greatest opportunity has been so far in your musical career?
Performing at the prestigious Kennedy Centre in Washington, D.C. In July 2014
How much creative control do you have over what you play?
I compose all my music.
If you had a chance to change something in the music industry what would it be?
Create a level playing field for artistes in the media.
Have you played for other bands seeing as to how you have your own band now?
I have never played for other musicians. I am not a backup artiste. I play my music with my band
What is your favourite type of music and is it different from what you play now?
I love contemporary African music which is exactly what I play.
What are your other interests outside of music? What do you do to relax outside of music?
Sales and marketing and cooking. I love cooking. I also listen to music, use social media and go swimming.
What keeps you going as a musician?
Music is a career for me; it’s not a job it’s born out of passion. My music is about social issues. I want to pass across a message to the people and that is what keeps me singing and playing.
Where would you like to see yourself within the next five years as an artist?
In five years I will be one of the biggest acts in Africa.
What are your long term career goals?
To open up mentorship programs in schools to teach the youth African music and instruments.
If you were to perform with anybody/group in the world, either dead, alive who would it be?
Sam Fan Thomas, Chicco, Robert Kelly, Shaggy and Baaba Maal
What are your up to date performance plans?
I’m off to Nyege Nyege Festival in Jinja, Uganda which will be running from the 16th to 18th October.
My new album 2015 Koko Rio https://itunes.apple.com/ke/album/koko-rio/id965106306
2016 I have tours from Dubai to Izrael to Europe and Mexico
I am an Afrima award nominee of best contemporary Africa artiste 2015. Please vote for me http://afrima.org/index.php/voting/contenental-categories/continental-categories/best-african-contemporary
You can interact with Makadem on twitter at