Every other Thursday we feature an artist on our Mics and Beats segment. Today’s Mics and Beats artist is Ricky Nanjero. Ricky’s love for music started way back in the 90’s while growing up in Having grown up in Buruburu estate,‘Eastlands’. Live music was rare back then and the only source of live music was found in churches. Ricky had to go and watch as he learnt from those playing in church masses. Through research and abit of formal education, Ricky mastered his art and slowly got the logic behind playing bass guitar.
Ricky has played with a host of artistes including Eric Wainaina, Vallerie Kimani, Atemi Oyungu, Zannaziki, Babaa Maal, and Juanita Bynum among many others.
He began his solo career in 2009 by forming a five-piece band called Marafiki, Together they released an album, ‘TUCHEZE’ in 2010.The album is an instrumentals bass album where bass guitar is featured strongly in all the songs. Ricky performs and tours under the brand Ricky na Marafiki.
Ricky is also involved in community support and has a program dubbed ‘jazz 4 books’, whereby they spread the reading culture from tender ages. The band organizes free concerts in schools with children from private and international schools in exchange for books which they distribute to the needy children in public schools and private libraries in the ‘eastlands’ area of Nairobi.
When and why did you start playing? Which instruments do you play?
I started playing in 1999, back in church I was a drummer then in 2000 I switched to bass. Since then I have been playing in a six stringed bass group Ricky na Marafiki from 2010.
Do you have a formal musical education?
Yes I have formal education. For one to understand music to some levels you have to have some formal musical education.
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?
I remember listening to Reggae music mostly Bob Marley.
What musical influences did you have a child?
I loved reggae so much. I still love reggae because I feel its speaks to the soul.
How is the music different from what you listen to now?
Now I listen to everything that I can get my hands on. That way I can be able to be versatile with different styles
What made you first realize that you wanted to pursue a career in music?
I love traveling, making friends and exploring the world. Music is one of those careers that allows you to explore the world. That make me give it a shot. I also love the fact that you work when everyone else is refreshing themselves. My job is always a party.
Who are your favourite musicians now? Groups? CD’s?
My cousins Jabali Afrika are my favourite musicians, Etienne Mbappe Ossibisa and Andree Manga
Cds– Jabali Afrika – Rebellion, Andree Manga Sol Makosa
How do you handle mistakes during a performance?
They become arrangements we try and do them again now consciously and it becomes part of the song.
What advice would you give to beginners who are nervous?
You need to be focused and keep on dreaming. One day you will realize your dreams.
How often and for how long do you practice?
I try to do at least 3 hours a day.
Do you teach music?
Sometimes when I am not busy.
How would you describe your music to somebody who has never heard you play before?
It is the simplest form of jazz that will make you fall in love with afro jazz. It has African rhythms with modern improvisations that will leave a musical impression in your heart in such a way that you will be left humming the tunes.
What can people expect to see at your live performance?
Music that will keep you at the edge of your seats, introduce you to the sounds of afro jazz and will make you fall in love with afro jazz forever
Out of the songs you have performed which is your favourite song?
A song called Rafiki jam
What do you think your biggest break or greatest opportunity has been so far in your musical career?
When we played at Sauti Za Busara. It showed that guys appreciate afro jazz and music has no boundaries.
How much creative control do you have over what you play?
I write all my songs so I have full control.
If you had a chance to change something in the music industry what would it be?
The perception of most musicians. I would influence them to write more music with our cultural background.
Did you play for other bands before you started your own band? How was it?
I have played for many artistes including Eric Wainaina, Vallerie Kimani, Jabali Afrika, Zannaziki, Babaa Maal, and Juanita Bynum among many others. All of it was a learning experience and I borrowed something from all of them. I would say that they have played a part in what I am because of the exposure.
What are the lessons you have learnt being part of a band?
To be patient with people because most of the band members are free to go but they have chosen to stay so I try to handle them with care.
Also how is it being the front man of the band?
It’s the most challenging thing I’ve ever done in life because the buck stops with you. To whom much is given much is required.
What is your favourite type of music?
What are your other interests outside of music? What do you do to relax outside of music?
I play chess and cooking. I also love spending time with my kids.
What keeps you going as a musician?
The fact that my wife and kids are my number 1 supporters.
Where would you like to see yourself within the next five years as an artist?
Showcasing Kenyan music on the international stages with other big acts.
What are your long term career goals?
Setting up an artist resource center where guys can learn music easily and freely
If you were to perform with anybody/group in the world, either dead, alive who would it be?
Richard Bona, Manoe Gallo and Lira
What are your up to date performance plans?
We are setting up an evening of afro jazz to be bigger.
Yes the third album is on the way we have finished 6 tracks.
Yes we are set to tour this year but plans are underway keep on following us for more info Twitter, Facebook and Instagram all @rickynanjero.