Artlife music director Aaron Colverson talks with Jaaz Odongo, a full-time music producer who works with Kenya's top artists.
Hi Jaaz. Sweet name. How would you describe your work?
Formally I am a music producer, content creator, sound engineer and one of the directors of Sound Mind, which is a production house. I would describe my work however as creating space and providing the technical know-how for musicians to reach their potential and make their dreams a reality.
What do you value about the Kenyan music industry?
Right now I think there are two things. First it's that the rules of engagement as it were have not yet been fully defined. By this I mean that the industry is still growing and in many way I think that this generation has the opportunity to define how it will work over the next few decades. By this I mean things to do with distribution and packaging of music, what the public perceives as popular music and what one has to do to make it in this industry.
Secondly and most importantly I think there is a crop of young talented musicians popping up all over the country who are willing to learn and do what it takes to become career musicians as it were.
What would you like to see change? Why?
Lack of professionalism. I think we need to encourage a culture of healthy competition in the industry. From shows, to service providers to artists and musicians. We need to foster a highly professional community that will stop undercutting itself and provide outstanding services This is what has held us back from growing and being where we should be.
Can you describe challenges you have and continue to face to improve your career?
The main problem I have faced I think is reliability in general. It can be a really wishy-washy industry sometimes and people are not able to deliver on their promises, timelines or deadlines. Secondly I think the willingness to do what it takes for great quality in music or shows, etc., is hard to find. Most times because it is expensive. So the people like me who are interested in delivering great quality in music find it tough at times.
Who have you worked with recently?
The list is long thankfully! I've worked with everyone from Eric Wainaina, Kato Change, Karun, Elictrique Djs, Fena Gitu, Kagwe Mungai, Astar, Rigga, The Moipei Quartet, Crew Teflon, Dela, Sauti Sol, etc, in the studio and many others live as well. It is a real privilege to work with all these incredible artists.
What is your funniest moment in studio and the industry? Most regrettable?
There are too many to count! We're always having a blast in the studio with Fena & Kagwe! Many fun times. I wouldn't say I regret anything because everything is an opportunity or a lesson to learn.
Music is life. It is my life. It’s a language that has no borders or boundaries. Imagine what you could do with that!?
Describe your vision for your career, Kenya's music scene, and the development of the entertainment industry in Africa.
I hope to continue working with great artists and helping them grow. I'm keen on being involved with creative people that see no boundaries in how far we can go. I’d like to be involved in creating bona fide music superstars from Kenya. I would like to see the industry give musicians artists and the people on the technical side of things a chance to live their dreams.