His music gets people on the dancefloors and he is getting enormous airplay on radio and TV stations. Isaac Ssejjombwe, talks to one of 2013’s shinning stars Khalifa Aganaga.
How did you find yourself in the music industry?
I grew up with a single mum and one sibling. The radio was our only companion and form of entertainment. Listening to music from various artistes motivated me to start singing. I used to ask myself how music from other countries could penetrate our industry and I grew up wanting to be the artiste to help our music reach other parts of the world.
Musicians are always taken to be failures, drug addicts and called all sorts of names in society. How did your mother take it when you joined the music industry?
It’s unfortunate that I grew up with just one parent but I’m so glad we are friends with my mother and I tell her everything. She knew of my desire to be a musician and was so supportive from day one though I was despised by other people because of my career choice. She has been there for me all the time and has always had hope. One of the reasons I joined the music industry was to change people’s mentality over musicians. I wanted to show all those people that not all musicians are drug addicts and failures.
So you mean you don’t do drugs and alcohol? How then do you get to perform energetically?
My real name is Sadat Mukiibi and I’m a believer. I follow Koran teachings and being a celebrity doesn’t deprive me of my beliefs, the religion I follow forbids alcohol and weed. I only take Redbull to be energetic because I’m a performer.
What happened to your father and how has it been growing up with a single mother?
My father passed on when I was a little and my mother was both the husband and wife at home. I never had that experience of calling anyone dad and when he passed away, my mother was so devastated that she didn’t get another man. I miss that fatherly love but it motivates me to work hard so I can repay my mother for what she has done for us.
What is your education background?
I am actually a student of music. I pursued a Music Dance and Drama Bachelors at Makerere University.
How do you call your style of music?
I call it high life music and it’s a blend of reggae, afro, zouk and dancehall. It’s my own style.
You are one of the few musicians who have had quite a number of hits in a short period of time. How have you managed to do that?
I have done that because I exploit every opportunity that comes my way. I give respect to people who I know have and will help me at a certain point. I’m also focused because my plan was not only to make a hit but to be a relevant artiste. I give my music time unlike other artistes.
What else do you do outside music?
I’m into fashion designing and it is what I was doing before joining the music industry. I used to sell clothes down town but because I have a name now, I have someone else doing that for me. Through my moniker Aganaga, we are soon launching our clothing label to the public.
Dancers in your videos are known to do risky stunts and one of the local papers reported that one of them was involved in an accident trying to do a stunt. What exactly happened?
It is true one of my dancers got a fracture in the back while trying out what he calls “suicide” style. It’s a type of dance where he jumps and lands on his back. While on set shooting my single Ndabilawa, he did it perfectly the first time but unfortunately, the shot was not taken, so he had to do it again and that is when he got injured. We paid for his medical treatment and he’s back on his feet after two and half months.
Why the boots and hats in all your videos?
Boots and hats are my trademarks. It’s what I want to be recognised by. I want my fans to identify me with what I put on.
What is your take on the music industry currently?
Professionally, we started getting there because of three guys. Chameleone, Bebe Cool and Bobi Wine. They helped so much in pushing the music industry to the next level. The industry is now stable but we as artistes need to be appreciated more in terms of awards because that would help in motivating us. I would give it for Radio and Weasel for that BET nod because they encouraged us upcoming artistes to work hard, not only to reach where the pioneers have reached, but to exceed to greater things.
You have a new song called We Are Their Problem alongside Iryn Namubiru. How did a newbie like you manage to collaborate with a respected veteran?
I grew up appreciating Iryn and when she heard my song Oyitangayo, she went to Nash, the producer who did it to produce one of her songs and coincidently I was also there and all along I had wanted to do something with her so We Are Their Problem came about. We did it in a couple of hours.
You are signed to Twinkle Star Agency, the same label that brought us Coco Finger, though they later parted ways. Do you think it is the right label to take your career to the next level?
Yes, because they have helped put me where I am today. They help me sell my products in terms of promotions, and publicity and they aid in audio and video production, plus soliciting bookings on top of other things. I am happy with our relationship.
What is your dream as an artiste?
My dream is to become one of the best musicians ever in this country. I want to bring a brand that can inspire many through music. I want to be in the league of Elly Wamala and Philly Bongole Lutaaya.
How would you rate yourself?
Unless I get recognised, I can’t rate myself. It’s too early to tell but I’m here to prove a point.
Why are you called Khalifa?
It is an Arabic word that means entertainer.
How do you call your style of music?
Best musician and why?
Eagle’s production because of their discipline and organisation.
When I first saw my Mina Konda video playing on TV.
When my music doesn’t get airplay.
Rice and dry fish.
Best local song and why?
One Ting Man by Sera(R.I.P) because of her style and vocals. I still feel touched by her death.