Vocal policeman. Musician Maro is one of the new musicians who have got their breakthrough this year, thanks to his hit song Genda Ewamwe. The founder of the Vocal Police label narrated his music journey to Isaac Ssejjombwe.
Who is Maro?
I was born Ronald Magada, but most people know me by my stage name Maro, which I came up with by combining the first two letters of each name. I’m 26 years old and the second born of 11 children born to Mr James Magada and the late Jane Babuleka of Buwenge in Jinja. I went to Bupadhengo Primary School, Light college Mukono and Buloba High School before joining Makerere Univesity to do a Bachelors in Development Studies, which I’m to resume this coming semester after taking a dead year.
Are you the only musician in your family?
My mum used to sing in the church choir back then, but it’s only me who is doing music in my family now.
Did your family approve of your decision to join the music industry?
My father was against my career because by the time I joined the music industry, I was joining university and he wanted me to first finish school then embark on the music career, but my predicament was that my single Tonelaga was already on the airwaves and there was no way I could backslide after getting that opportunity. My dad stopped paying my tuition fees, which is the reason for my dead year, but we recently reconciled and he is willing to pay for my tuition.
When did you join the music industry?
I consider myself to have joined the music industry in 2002 while in my S.2, but I was more into writing. It is around that time that I did Come Back as my first song, though I didn’t release it because of poor production. I briefly worked at Cineplex Cinema as an usher in 2007 and I professionally joined the music industry in 2008, releasing Tonelega, the RnB version. In 2010, Mickie Wine convinced me to join him at Fire Base Crew and we redid Tonelaga as a dancehall song featuring Empress. Months later, I quit Fire Base.
For how long where you in Fire Base and why did you quit?
I joined Fire Base in 2010 and was there for only seven months. I quit because everything was all about Mickie Wine, he didn’t approve of us as solo artistes and he was exploiting all the artistes he had brought to Fire Base.
I thought Fire Base belonged to Bobi Wine but you are saying it was his young brother Mickie Wine who was exploiting you. I’m I missing out something here?
It’s true Fire Base belongs to Bobi Wine but I had signed a contract with Mickie Wine under his Sulubada High School, a sub-division of Fire Base.
What happened next after Fire Base?
From Fire Base, I joined Aziz Azion’s West End Entertainment which is now Mo music and did tracks like Sulabulungi and Baiby featuring Mya. From West End, I started my own label called Vocal Police. I left West End because a lot that had been promised in the contract was not fulfilled. They didn’t promote my music and didn’t cater for the production of both my audio and videos as was stipulated in the contract.
How did you come up with Vocal Police and why that name?
When I left West End, I decided enough was enough with being signed, so I called up a few friends like Ray of the Kasenyanku fame, Empress with whom we did Tonelaga, Hameem Hassan, Data, Evan Vocal, Nutty Naithan, and recently our new recruit Roni commonly known as Stamina who has replaced Ray to start the new label. I decided to call the group Vocal Police because the name is striking and previously, I wanted the group to be comprised of only artistes with vocal capabilities, but as time went on, I “arrested” every artiste in their styles. We have artistes doing hip hop, dancehall, Rn’B and so on and so forth.
Why did Ray leave the group he helped build just after a few months?
Ray had his differences. The disagreement stemmed from the fact that we had planned a combined concert dubbed Ray and Maro Live but when our main sponsors Club Beer delayed to confirm, he thought we were going behind his back basing on the fact that I was the one who approached them so he decided to call it quits and coincidently, Club Beer accepted to sponsor the concert after he had left thus renaming it to Maro Live.
Now that you have mentioned the concert, do you think this is the right time for you to have a concert after seeing other burgeoning artists stumble?
I believe this is the right time for me because I have over 17 tracks and want to upgrade from a pub/bar artiste to a live concert performer. I think I have been limiting my fan base and many of my fans haven’t had a chance to see me live.
When is this concert and which venue are you looking at?
The concert will be on September 14 at Freedom City, Entebbe Road and entry fee is Shs10,000 for all and the last concert will be on September 15 in my home town at Crested Crane Hotel, Jinja.
What should your fans expect on your concerts?
They should expect the best there is in Maro. I will be supported by artistes like Bobi Wine, Chris Evans, Baboon Forest, Aziz Azion, Rema, David Lutalo and all Vocal Police artistes.
What does it take for one to join Vocal Police?
We look at a number of aspects like talent, dedication and hard work. We as Vocal Police have a vision of having a set up similar to Eagle’s Production, where each of the artistes is big in their own right, though ours will be an uptown version.
How have you managed to exist in this competitive industry as a group of young and talented artistes?
We have managed because we have partners like producers Dr Fizzol, Imon, Steve M of D records, a team of photographers at Twinkle Images, advisors like Aziz Azion, Sylver Kyagulanyi and the cooperation we have among ourselves has also helped us a lot. In Vocal Police, we help each other in video shoots, audio production and so on.
Is Maro a married man?
Not yet but I’m planning to marry my German girlfriend whom I have been with for three years now.
Because the music industry demands a lot of money, many young men are relying on sugar mummies to help finance their music careers. Are you one of such people?
No, I am not and I despise artistes who do it. I am so committed to my girlfriend and wouldn’t do anything to hurt her. I’m one year older than her and that’s probably why our relationship has lasted for that long.
What else are you doing besides music?
Well, I want to start an NGO called Maro Music for the Girl Child, to help out stop violence and other forms of abuse against children. I am soon opening up another group called Humble Management to help in managing business in and outside Vocal Police. Besides that, we have another extension of Vocal Police in Rwanda with Nico MP as our artiste.