In concert tonight: His latest song Manya is hitting the airwaves, and it is no wonder that David Lutalo chose to name his concert Manya. As he gears up to give fans his best tonight, Isaac Ssejjombwe caught up with the singer and he opens up about why he changed his music style and his plans to take over Africa.
When did you start your music journey?
I started writing songs at an early age and kept modernising them, but I released my first professional album called Kapapala in 2008 and some of the songs that did well include Kapapala, Batusosola and Ayi Mukama. I think I was born a musician.
You have a song called Engumba Zange, which is a rather disturbing topic to talk about. Why this song?
In most cases I am not inspired by anything. It is just a thought that crosses my mind and all I worry about is how to package it well for people to like it. In Engumba Zange, I talk about death and that is reality. There is no shortcut.
Your music has gone through a tremendous switch. The David Lutalo who did Kapapala is different from the David Lutalo who released I Love You. What motivated you to change style?
If you are talented, then it is your duty to do it for your fans. My fans are my priority so I have to give them a variety. Some people like Engumba Zange while others think it was a sensitive topic. So my job is to keep surprising my fans.
Why has it taken you this long to pull such ‘surprises’?
I don’t think it has been a long time because I have done songs that suit the secular type; songs such as Mapenzi and I Can See which featured Bebe Cool.
Your videos too have changed. You used to shoot ordinary videos, but these days you can afford to travel and shoot a video abroad. Who finances you?
The countries we are competing with invest so much in their music. In fact, we are just trying our best because we cannot compete with the Nigerians and South Africans when it comes to investing in music. But the little we do motivates the upcoming artistes so that they will know what to do in future.
There was rumour that you were set to join Goodlyfe, after the success of Hellena, the song. How true was that?
Why not them to join me? Anyway on a serious note, joining Goodlyfe has never crossed my mind. Those are people’s words, but those guys are my good friends, they are so talented and who knows, we could do other songs together.
What do you call your style of music?
I also get confused most of the time. I just sing what is good for the ears.
How many concerts have you held so far?
I think seven; I have been holding concerts for each album I have done.
How many albums do you have so far?
Eight; Kapapala, Gyanjaba, Okutte Wagumu, Yamba, Waa Gyetugenda, Engumba Zange, Akantu, Kati Manaya.
Why did you decide to name your latest album Manya?
I did not really put my mind to it. I just named it that way. The other option would have been Ujuwe, but it is a fast song for an album name. Manya in a way helped promote the song.
How many songs are on that album?
Guluma Ya Guza, Mukama, So Nice, Many and Ujuwe.
What should fans expect at your concert tonight?
They should expect the best of David Lutalo. Come witness my full potential tonight as I perform some of my best songs off my previous and latest album. All the mistakes have been rectified. I even talked to most artistes and they are coming through to support me, even those I never approached are willing to come.
There are fans who feel cheated when you perform for an hour yet they paid to watch you perform longer. How will you balance your performing time with the long list of supporting artistes?
Those are mistakes we have rectified this time round. Unlike before, performances will start at 6pm sharp which will give us ample time to end the concert at midnight. Other shows start at 9pm and end at 2am. We shall keep time so that fans get value for their money.
There is a KCCA law that expects concerts to end by midnight. What guarantee do your fans have that you will give them your best?
The venue I chose (Africana) is one of the best for a concert. I want my fans to feel comfortable and we have permission from KCCA so they are aware, so are other organisations such as Nema and police.
Aside from music, is David Lutalo married?
Yes. I am married with two children. Let’s not talk about them anymore. Those are the only details I can give you.
How do you think your wife feels now that you are a celebrity with many female fans?
I think she is okay because I treat her well and besides, it is the fans that pay me at the end of the day. I treasure my fans so much, I handle them with care.
Where do we see David Lutalo five years from now?
I want to be performing in all African countries.
Many artistes in Uganda take on ‘cool’ names. How come you decided to use your real name?
It is who I am. That is one of our major problems; we lack creativity – that sense of belonging, because we hate who we are.
Aside from music, who is David Lutalo?
What you see is what you get. I am the same person as an artiste and as an ordinary person. I am a soccer fan and I support Arsenal and Barcelona but Uganda Cranes will always come first.
How come you did not participate in the Tubonga Naawe project with other artistes last year?
By the time that campaign kicked off, I wasn’t in the country and I am not interested in politics.
So what would happen if a presidential candidate approaches you to be on his campaign trail?
I would join in so that my children attend school.
How do you gauge yourself on the music scene right now?
My fans know where to put me. I never joined the industry to get a number of fans, but rather get acknowledged by my fans. I am still thirsty to achieve more.
Where do you think the Ugandan music industry is heading a few years from now?
As Ugandan artistes, we are at war to cut across Africa. We believe we are the most talented country in Africa but why haven’t we penetrated other countries? We might be doing it individually, but we shall get there.
You are not known to be involved in scandals. How have you been able to do that?
First and foremost, I am so religious and the Bible forbids enmity. I was raised in a humble family and I do not dwell so much on negativity.
How do you want to be remembered?
I want to be exemplary.
At what level did you finish with your education?
I stopped in Senior Six because of unavoidable circumstances.
What circumstances are those?
I was paying my own tuition from Senior Two because my father could not afford to pay for me anymore. I used to burn charcoal, fetch water, firewood and a lot more.
So did your parents approve of your decision to take on music as a career?
They did not have much option, but they blessed me when I was leaving home to come to Kampala in 2007.
Many people think you are proud. Are you?
I treat people with respect, although there are fans with bad intentions.
Name of concert: Manya
Venue: Africana People Space.
General 20k, VIP 50k