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Sauti Sol – To live and die in Africa


Photos by Faiswal Kasirye

Photos by Faiswal Kasirye

Voices of the sun: Chimano, Savara, Bien Aime, and Polycarp aka Fancy Fingers – internationally known as Sauti Sol – jetted into the country midweek as headliners of yet another edition of MegaFest. They talked to sQoop’s Edgar R. Batte about music, girls and international stardom among other subjects.

It is hard to stay seated when Sauti Sol gets on stage. Their energy, connection with the crowd and general stage flaunt has won them cross-over appeal, perhaps explaining why they will be headlining a major fest in town this weekend.

The last time they were in Kampala, Sauti Sol made a late call but it was worth the wait. The moment they got on stage, they made it worthwhile. The reciprocation to their chants and stage presence, characterised of dance and more, was received with ululations, sing-alongs and open confessions of love (or was it infatuations) from some female fans.

It is slightly more than a year since the MTV award-winning group was in town for the Tusker Lite concert at the Kampala Serena Hotel. They return to Kampala tomorrow, for the Club Mega Fest, at Sheraton Kampala Hotel. It will be their third music performance in Kampala.

Sauti Sol is arguably East Africa’s most celebrated music group at the moment pedestalling on their rich, soulful voices with vocal harmonies which resonate well with their gifted instrumentation of guitar riffs and African drum rhythms. Their music style is a melodic marriage of western pop and Kenyan sound.
The creative fusion can be felt, heard and appreciated in some of their songs, like their break-out hit Sura Yako, Nishike, Nerea, Coming Home, among other captivatingly good tracks that have enjoyed good airplay on different media platforms across East Africa and beyond.

n an interview with sQoop magazine, Chimano, Savara, Bien Aime, and Polycarp, aka Fancy Fingers, say they are excited to be back in Kampala. They have also been headlined as Abryanz Fashion Awards.
They will be performing live.

Sauti Sol members say Ugandan women are beautiful and voluptuous.

Sauti Sol members say Ugandan women are beautiful and voluptuous.

Awesome performance
“Our fans should expect an awesome performance from Africa’s best live act. We will be playing with our live band. We will perform all the hits and our new Live and Die in Afrika album. People should expect an awesome performance, full of energy and fireworks,” the elated performers assure.
“We promise you one of the best live performances you have ever seen. We are going to give you our best. We love you Uganda and keep supporting Sauti Sol,” they added.
And they are not only paying lip service. During their last performance in town, the youthful stage gems came prepared to share love, taking time between intermissions to say a few Luganda words like ‘Mwebale nyo’, which were well-rehearsed.
They also shared a few jokes about the reigning political systems, just for laughs. At the end of their energetic stage presence, fans could be heard chorusing their request to have more and more of Sol.
“We will definitely be back,” they guaranteed as they took a bow and wiped their sweaty faces after hours of spirited stage delivery.
Perhaps, their stage name says a thing or two about what they are about.
“Sauti Sol means voices of the Sun,” Bien Aime said. “Sauti’ means voice and ‘Sol’ means ‘sun’”.
That is probably the reason why they simply never, or do not show that they can burn out.
And while they maintain an exhibitionist display of exhilaration, the deepness of their musical connection is an open secret. To them, music is not only a career but a passion.
“We live music day and night. It’s our whole life,” Chimano added.
And they cannot mirror their lives without music. Even if they were not celebrities, they would still be musicians.
They choir, “We are just doing what we love to do. I don’t think it would be any other way.”
And the ladies are very much part of their inspirations. Many of their songs are themed around women.
“Because who runs the world? It is the girls,” Fancy Fingers explains.
For that, their performances seem incomplete without calling out some nice-looking lady or ladies to join them on stage to dance or sing along. It is part of the highlights of their shows.


Long lasting relationship
Paparazzi would have had a field day snooping around these guys for the women in their lives but there is nothing to report.
Chimano – I am single.
Savara – I am very lonely. Lol.
Beineme – I am in relationship but I have a big heart I can accommodate many…lol.
Fancy Fingers – I am single too.
Like that, they cannot envision a life, or lives away from music. They eat and live music. It is always around them. The plus for them is that they can have fun while on job. The youthful music stars only care to stay in shape.
But even before they started doing music, the four were friends. In effect, friendship is their strongest bond. Music happened to be the common hobby which they decided to pursue. Like any group, they sought to conquer airwaves in Kenya and East Africa as a region.
Along the way, they met their current manager, Marek Fusch, who was initially another fan in the crowd. When they sat to talk business, he told them that they were playing small for their potential could fly them beyond continental borders.
“We met him in Nairobi. He used to come watch our shows. He was not supposed to be our manager but he was a friend until he booked us some shows in Europe and from there we formalised a relationship. We worked well together so we took it to another level,” Beineme recalls.

Managing Sol is a lot more than he thought it would. In an interview with Business Daily, published out of Nairobi by the Nation Media Group, Fusch, 31, says he thought he was going to be able to do manage the group as his part time. He was wrong.
“What it entails is it’s a business brand. A lot of people don’t look at it like that. In Kenya, there is zero appreciation for artistes and also the industry isn’t developed, so the challenges are numerous. When I joined, the boys were being paid like, what, Kshs150,000 (Shs5m) a show? It wasn’t sustainable,” he explains.
The group now demands anything between Kshs1.5m (about Shs50m) to Kshs2m (about Shs66m) for a show. Their manager says they do about seven shows a month. Well, they earn their pay because they spent a lot of time doing rehearsals.
They are spreading the cheer too. They think Ugandan music is cool.
“Ugandan music is cool. We like a lot of Ugandan acts especially Eddy Kenzo, Radio and Weasel, Jose Chameleone, Irene Ntale and Maurice Kirya,” they say. They have a collaboration lined up with Kenzo, though do not specify the time frame or place they will be recording and shooting the music video.
What they are sure about though is that they are in love with Uganda’s places. When in Kampala, they hang out at Mama Ashanti, Sky Lounge and Guvnor. “Kampala is very nice and fun. Our host Aly Alibhai of Talent Africa always takes good care of us when we are in Kampala,” they add.
And while they sip beer or other frothy stuff, they keep their eyes open.
“Uganda women are beautiful and voluptuous…Sura Yako Muzuri Mama,” they compliment.

That scene from their Sura Yako is not for artistic purpose. Sauti Sol love rolex, not the watch. The special Ugandan snack that comprises eggs, tomatoes, cabbages and onions rolled in a chapatti.
They are in for filling meals too.
They add, “We love eating fresh fish when in Uganda and Matooke, of course.” When they have had such meal, it is time to ‘mash up’ a show though the youthful gems have had some low moments while at it.
“When we were performing in Las Vegas, Savara’s pants tore and everything poured out. So he had to run and make a quick change. There have been times when one of us slips or falls on stage,” they recount.

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