#CokeStudioAfrica: One-on-one with Kenya’s FENA

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Coke Studio is a one of a kind music show that brings artists from different genres, eras and regions together to create a modern and authentic African sound through musical fusion. Coke Studio Africa show is produced by Coca-Cola Central, East and West Africa.

In the 2nd edition, one of Kenya’s talented vocalists, FENA, took center stage. Capital Lifestyle caught up with the rising star.

 

How did your music career begin?

I grew up in a musical family and I was always singing. I used to sing in school and church and in 2008 I won a singing competition. From there, I started doing back-up vocals for Muthoni The Drummer Queen and Dela who was featured in season 1 of Coke Studio. Everything seemed to take a turn for the best after that.

How would you describe your music?

I call my music Urban Soul because it’s a fusion of all the genres I enjoy. I came up with the name as it describes my style and I had no other word that fitted the description.

What inspires your music?

I’m inspired by the events in my life and the people around me. I can write a song about what’s going on around me or in my life.

Your new album, what’s the story behind it?

I wouldn’t say that every song has a back story to it. It was just a raw album of me being me without following any guidelines and playing around with my tunes.

Which musicians inspired you growing up?

They are so many of them! I looked up to Missy Elliot a lot, India Arie, John Legend and some reggae and hip hop artists.

So there are rumors that you and Missy Elliot are good friends?

I wouldn’t say that. We are just friends on twitter. She started following me on twitter after I started tweeting her all the time. I was like a super fan! She’s never really commented on any of my music but hopefully one day she will.

What was your reaction when you were selected to be part of Coke Studio season 2?

I was really excited because ever since I watched season 1, I wanted to be featured on season 2. So when I got the call, I was thrilled!

What do you think of the show?

The show is a very good platform especially for an artist like me to advance. It’s a great opportunity to meet people and network and be heard not only at home but all over the continent.

Coke studio is all about African fusion. What do you think of this concept?

I think it’s a great concept. Where different artists are brought together from all over the continent and come with different styles ideas. Bringing all this together and fusing it brings a whole new sound to African music.

So you are fusing with Olamide for this season. Had you ever heard of him?

I had never heard of him before. I have however been a fan of his music, especially his track “First of all” which is a big hit in Kenya at the moment.

What was it like fusing with Olamide?

My experience has been great! He is a great artist who is easy to work with. We hit it off as soon as we met as he is very humble and what I admired was how he also knows his music. I honestly had a good time.

Are you planning on doing future projects with Olamide?

Definitely! We are planning to do a song together. We’ll see how it is received.

What do you think of his music?

I think he is a great artist and Nigerian music is high up on the international map. He is definitely one of the front runners in that industry.

So you’re also working with Kenyan producer Kevin Provoke this season. Have you worked with him before?

We have worked together. In fact, we toured London with him before. We were already on a friendship base and I think he is very talented. I’ve heard how he has worked on Olamide’s tracks and they sound amazing. The three of us might just surprise you all with something new. Watch this space.

What would you say you have gained from Coke Studio and how will it influence your career?

The main thing that I think I’ve gained is the networks that I‘ve created. I have met a lot of people in different fields who I am sure I will work with even after this is done.

How do you think Africa is reacting to Coke Studio since season 1?

Africa is definitely excited about Coke Studio since it has brought all their favorite artists together, even the unknown ones. It shows how much Africa has to offer.

After seeing the lineup for season 2, which other artists would you have liked to work with?

I would have enjoyed working with Diamond, but I’d mostly like to work with Flavor as I think he is a good producer who is very musical.

What impact do you think Coke Studio will have on African music?

I think Coke Studio will further the progress that African music has achieved thus far by giving artists a platform to be recognized.

Have you worked with any of the other artists featured in season 1 or 2?

I have worked with HHP who was featured in season 1. We performed during a concert in South Africa. We have a very cool track in my new album called “My City”. Since he has become such a good friend, who has been very supportive of my music, we might be working on some other future projects.

Given a chance, would you come back for season 3?

Definitely! Plus I’d really want to work with HHP if he’s featured again.

What artists would you want to see in season 3?

I think Davido, Tiwa Savage, Mafikizolo and Mikasa would be a good fit for Coke Studio.

What would you consider to be your greatest musical achievement to date?

I would say Coke Studio is high up on that list. Another one would be about 3 years ago when I opened for Vivian Green the American R&B singer as well as the concert in South Africa.

So what can we expect from you in the future?

I want to take Fena music to another level, put Kenya in the map and win more awards.

What do you think of Kenya’s music industry?

The industry has come from far. We have a long way to go but we are headed in the right direction.

What advice do you have for upcoming artists in African?

Chase your dream with everything you have and don’t let any opportunity slide. It won’t come easy, but for some it might. If you love what you do, you will go after it.

 

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