Putting pen to paper. If an artiste wants a hit song, the person they go to pen them lyrics is Nince Henry, Edgar R. Batte talked to the writer who also has a burgeoning singing career going on.
Where do you get the stage name Nince Henry?
I got it while at Vincent Alex Primary School. A teacher asked me to write something and she didn’t like my handwriting so she wrote an abbreviation on the blackboard, NINS which she said stood for “Neither Impressive Nor Seductive”. She said if she were a girl I had written a letter to in my handwriting she would just put that abbreviation. Soon fellow pupils began calling me Nins and when I grew older, I chose to adopt it as my stage name, I modified it to Nince.
What is your real name?
My real name is Henry Sekyanzi.
What is the trick to good song writing?
It is about looking at what’s in the market at the moment, studying the artiste who is supposed to sing that song and what people generally like to listen to. There are certain topics that cannot work.
Did you do a course in music or song writing?
Actually it wasn’t in a college or school but I was taught music by an Italian priest, Father Richard.
What did he teach you?
How to play the piano and the guitar.
Where then did you learning song writing?
I didn’t learn it, I just discovered my ability to write songs.
When was this?
That was in 2007 when I was in high school. I used to write hip hop rhymes for my friends.
What was the first song you wrote and you were paid for?
It was Bebe Cool’s Sweet Loving.
How did you meet Bebe Cool?
I met him through a friend called Chizzo and Omulangira Ndausi. I was in high school at Jinja S.S. Ndausi has come to emcee at a show in Jinja town and since I was not staying in a hostel but in an apartment, I had freedom to move. I attended the show where Bebe Cool was performing and Ndausi introduced me to him.
Which are some of the topics that work?
Love is a very good topic and then inspiration. Reality is another good topic, for example Kamwako the latest song I wrote for Bebe Cool is based on realism. Every human being talks and is judged by what they say.
Okay, does language or a music genre have to do with the success or failure of a song?
Yeah, a music genre has something to do with it. If you sing a genre that is selling, chances are you will be heard. But again even something fresh works. For example I wrote Birowoozo for Iryn Namubiru at a time when there were not many zouk songs, so it sounded fresh and appealing to the ears of the listener.
Does rhyming add to the goodness of a song?
Yeah, it is a good element in music writing.
How long does it take for you to write a song?
It depends on how long it takes me to sit down to concentrate and write the song.
What’s the average real time you’ll spend writing a song?
It may take a week or a day. Sometimes I might write a song for 10 minutes but when I go over it, I find I am not feeling it and I give it a break for two days but it could take me merely 30 minutes.
Do people come to you or do you write songs and sell them to someone or an artiste?
I don’t write a song until I know who I am writing it for, so I get song orders from artistes.
How differently will you write a song for Iryn Namubiru from one you will write for Bebe Cool?
Good question. Before I write a song for an artiste I study them. Bebe Cool is the only guy who will use a line like “…Nina obuzito obumala okuyitawo ku minzani…” and Iryn Namubiru represents a softer side and it will be a different case when I am penning her lyrics. It will also depend on the versatility of the artiste.
As a song writer do you write a song and hand over to an artiste or do you go beyond simply penning lyrics?
I go beyond writing for example for Bebe Cool’s new song Kabiri Nage Wange, I wrote it and I recorded a demo on how the song should be sung and shared it with Bebe. I told him he could sing a bit of rhumba so he listened to the demo and when he had internalised my idea, we went to studio and began on the recording.
Do you have any favourite song writers?
LA-Reid, Baby Face and actually lately I like Ne-yo so much.
You have worked with different artistes, who of these have you enjoyed working with?
First is Bebe Cool because he listens to you and he does exactly what you tell him to do. He is flexible be it vocally or in character. The other is Namubiru because of her flexibility, vocally.
And who have you worked with and it felt like a painful experience?
Oh, I cannot name names. They would come shooting at me with words.
Okay, without naming names, share with us what have you found painful about working with them.Rigidity and laziness. What I mean by laziness is if I schedule a programme for 9am and you’re not yet awake by midday. You just cannot work with me if you are a poor time manager.
Would you write a political song?
Definitely yes. If I am paid for its worth and if that song is not going to affect me.
If you had to write a political song, what would it be about?
It depends. I have written a song I consider political. It is titled Bbumba. I wrote it for honourable Syda Bbumba. It was a praise song. I think if I was to write a straight political song it would be positive and neutral.
What’s the strongest song you’ve written?
My strongest song wasn’t actually as popular as I anticipated it to be. It is called Tokola Ensobi by Julie Mutesasira
Why do you think this was a strong song?
I was advising people about the need for them to be patient before they go ahead to take vows at the altar to get into marriage.
What is your comment on songs people term as bubble-gum?
Such songs come to me like cracking a joke. People will laugh the first time and may be the second time but not the third time.
Apart from writing songs, what else occupies your time?
I am a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) student at Kampala International University (KIU). I am currently in my second year. I am a musician too and I do performances.
How is Nince Henry the musician?
I am getting a very good reception. My debut single Cindarella was a hit song. Now my latest Mpola Mpola is also doing very well. I am booked for lots of shows, which means people are appreciating my music.
What do people mostly compliment you for?
My hair. They say it is beautiful and I think it is true.
What do people mostly complain about you?
They say I am overly reserved and serious and I rarely laugh or get excited.