Former Blu3 member Lilian Mbabazi spoke to Edgar R. Batte on motherhood, music and her radio career.
You look fresh, how is Lilian doing today?
Lilian is doing good.
What have you been up to?
Right now I am trying to complete my first album and I am also working with The Sundowners band and here at Radio City, basically doing a lot of things at once. I am also a mother.
How is motherhood going for you?
Motherhood is fantastic.
Where you prepared for it when you got into it?
No, no one prepares you for motherhood (laughs). You can’t be prepared. You have no idea what to expect. It was very surprising and it made me grow up in a few days.
How did motherhood change you from the girl that you were?
Well, before it was all about me, but now I put my son before everything. I am more responsible when it comes to certain things. Before I was a young girl having fun but now being a mother, my son depends on me, so every action I take and every decision I make affects him.
Now that you have a son, what are some of the sacrifices you’ve had to make?
First of all, I don’t go out as much as I used to. Now I make sure I make time for my son. There is no excuse for me.
As an artiste, I imagine that schedules can get tight especially now that you also have a day job as a radio presenter. How then do you fix time to be there for him?
Either way, I have to go home first after the radio show because I have to prepare for the night gigs, so in between I make sure I spend some time with him.
How old is he now?
He is making two in September.
It is all about you two, where is his dad, Mowzey Radio in the picture?
What do you mean?
I mean, you are basically talking about you and your son…
You’re asking about my schedule and not his (laughs).
Okay, when does he ever come in to play his role as the dad?
He is always the dad. It is not like he has to come in and play a role. He is the dad. And he comes through. He comes and checks on us because we don’t live together.
So do you have to take the son to him or he visits every once in a while?
No he has to come to see his son.
You are a couple, isn’t it good you stayed together?
(Laughs) … This interview is very personal.
Come on, it is just that you two are public figures and celebrities at that …
Yeah it is personal … yes we don’t stay together because at the moment that’s what’s working.
Okay how did you get into radio? … I mean the radio job not Mowzey Radio.
(Laughs) Well, I always loved working on radio. I actually did my first job on radio at Beat FM when it was still located on Mawanda Road.
Which year was it?
This was 2003, I think.
Where you presenting in Luganda?
No it was not a Luganda station then. Back then it was still owned by Halima Namakula and her son Hemdee Kiwanuka, so they gave me a job then. I was doing the breakfast show. Then I went to Capital FM and had a chance to learn a few things, and I also did a stint Sanyu FM.
Where you done by school at the time?
No I was still in school.
At Makerere University.
What degree did you pursue?
A Bachelors in Social Sciences.
How has it helped you in your career?
I am not really doing what I studied but once in a while I have to apply what I studied.
What is good about Radio City?
I love management for the way they treat their workers. When you come here, you don’t get stressed. It’s a friendly environment. I love it.
What show do you present?
The Mid-Morning Magazine between 10am and 3pm, Monday to Friday.
It is clearly a busy schedule. When then do you get time to record your music?
I create it. In fact I am currently recording many songs.
What does it take for a female artiste like you breaking out in a male-dominated music industry?
It is a bit harder for us. First of all we don’t move with all that entourage like male musicians do and also we are not as violent and forceful. Everyone loves music but I can never go out to fight someone to get known. I think as a female musician it is about staying true to my principles and what I do.
Define the kind of music you do?
I would call it a mixture of so many things, from afro, to pop and house but I like soul music and I listen a lot to India Arie, Music Soul Child, Erykah-Badu, basically I listen a to 90s music a lot. It had a lot of groove and the songs made sense. Today, people like beats even if a song has not much sense to it.
Do you have any local favourites?
I like Radio & Weasel’s music. They’ve got a different style of music which many Ugandans were not doing. They’ve got something new. I also really like Evon. She has an amazing voice. I hope she can release more music so people can appreciate her talent. I like Da Myth among the hip hop guys. He is very talented.
As an artiste, when writing or singing, who are you singing to?
It depends. Sometimes you sing about what is going on in your life or what a friend of yours is going through.
Yes, Yegwe Weka which I did with Kitoko. I like that song very much.
Was it dedicated to anyone in particular?
I was not singing it to anyone. It was just right after I had just had my child. I felt this was the person I really liked.
My baby, (he he he), my son.
What is your personal favourite song?
Blu3’s Where You Are. It was just the right combination of everything- the right producers, the right artistes and the right concept and a good video at that.
How old are you?
I am not going to talk about my age… I am 28.
How many countries have you visited outside Uganda?
I’ve been to Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Congo, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Ghana, Benin and South Africa. Those are 10 so far.
Where have you had the best performance in your career?
That is obviously at the MTV Awards in Nairobi. For me that was big. Then the performance we did in Ghana before the Africa Cup of Nations with Nigeria’s 2Face and a group from London called Steel Pulse.
What is your favourite movie of all time?
I like cheesy movies but one of my favourite movies is The Godfather.
How long does it take for you to dress up in the morning?
It depends. If I had planned what I was going to wear I can easily take 25 minutes but if I have to look for what I have to wear it can take me up to an hour.
What is your favourite music album of all time?
That is very hard. I have very many albums that I love but growing up I listened a lot to Whitney Houston and I have to go for her greatest hits collection.
What was life like for you growing up?
I was very humble. I was a tomboy. I played a lot with the boys, I was always in trouble. I was very stubborn and I was always worried about me, like fearing that I would one day cut my hand or do something ridiculous. I was very, very stubborn.
What brought out the stubborn side in you?
I guess the innocence of being a child.
Where were you born and how many siblings do you have?
I have two elder sisters and two younger brothers. I am the middle child and I was born in Nsambya Hospital and I grew up in Kampala. At some point my mum worked at Kigo Prison. She used to aid the women there give birth. She used to be a midwife but she’s not anymore.
And your dad?
He’s an environmentalist.
Is there a way in which you take on from any of your parents?
My dad was always interested in music even while in school.
What puts your down?
When friends do and say things that betray me. I believe so much in my friends. I trust my friends a lot and being in this industry, it is not easy to have friends but I have had friends I have known since I was in S.1 and they are still my very close friends.
What would make you cry?
Sometimes a story will be written about me and it is so embarrassing and not true and it really dampens my spirits.
Which story has really put you down?
Like the story of me not knowing who the father of my child is. It made me look like I am a psycho woman who has no absolute idea of what I am doing and who I am. And they said it could be a Mzungu, this and that.
Were you dating different men?
No, I have never come out to say who I am dating.
But we know Mowzey Radio is your man…
I think we should move on from this topic. (Laughs hard). I don’t like to talk about me and him because everyone has their own idea about what is going on with me and him so it is better to keep people speculating.
But you cannot keep Sqoop speculating. You should come out straight and tell our readers what’s happening.
No, let them keep thinking what they want.
What makes you happy?
My child makes me happy even if I have had a bad day. I enjoy performing too and generally being around positive people.
What meal can you make well?
I like making good chicken stew.
The Executive Director of KCCA has ordered that all music fetes will have to end by 10pm, what are your views on this?
The problem is that people are not able to keep time. In a country where they say a show will start at 7pm, and it starts at 9pm, it is impossible for it to end at 10pm. People come later and usually there is a big line-up of performers, so by the time the main act comes on stage it is wrap up time! It should be pushed to midnight.