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Ray: The singer who pens signature tunes for others

main5SELFLESS: Even as a singer himself, the man behind the Kasenyanku hit has written several hit songs for other musicians, some going ahead to become bigger than his own songs like Irene Ntale’s Gyobera and Rema Namakula’s Sitaki, writes Isaac Ssejjombwe

Who is Ray Signature?
I’m a fine artist, instrumentalist, song writer and performer.

What instrument do you play?
I play the acoustic guitar.

You are known as Ray Signature. Where did you get that name?
Ray comes from Raymond and my white friend called Paul gave me the Signature name after realising that I’m so talented in music and song writing.

Tell me about your family background?
I come from a religious family. My dad is a retired pastor called Frank Kiggundu and my late mom was called Josephine Babirye Kiggundu. I’m the third born of eight children.

Are you the only artiste in your family?
For the fact that I come from a religious family, we all can sing but I’m the only one who took music for a career. My siblings are into church ministry and other businesses.

Are you seeing someone?
Yes, I’m seeing someone and I intend to marry her in two years’ time. I have been with her for a year now.

Who is the lucky woman?
I choose to keep that private.

Why is she the right person for you?
It’s because we connect.

What do you look for in a woman?
Discipline, respect, fearing of God, love and care.

How old are you?
I’m 27 years old.

You started out at Sikia Records under Silver Kyagulanyi. Tell us about your experience working with such a talented song writer.
He groomed me as a song writer and he is the one who mentored me. He is a no nonsense and hardworking man. My dad entrusted him to nurture me, so he’s more less my parent as well.

Why didn’t you join the ministry like your siblings and instead took on the musical journey?
I used to sing in church while growing up and liked doing it. So it was passion that drove me to do music.

What was your father’s reaction when you started doing secular music?
Unlike other artistes who lose their beliefs and change their behaviour, I have remained the same thoughtout my career. At first he was disappointed with me because he thought I would lose my direction but when he followed me closely, he realised that I’m not into drugs like most musicians. So he is okay with me doing music up to now.

You say Silver Kyagulanyi taught you how to write music. What songs have you written so far?
I wrote Byambiligo for Iryn Namubiru, Saaba for Julie Mutesasira, Netaga Gwe for Jackie Senyonjo, Sitaki and Deep In Love for Rema, Gyobera for Irene Ntale, Nseyeya for Juliana and I’m working on something for Fille, Lydia Jazmine, Grace Nakimera and other artistes.

Among the songs you’ve mentioned, there are no male artistes. Why don’t you write for them?
Women are so easy to work with and they always accept to be corrected when they go wrong, which male artistes don’t do.

How do you feel when some of the songs you’ve written become hits when some of your own songs don’t?
At the end of the day, it’s still my work. It’s a good feeling because my effort has been appreciated and besides I still earn big out of it.

But we have never heard them attribute you in those songs?
It’s difficult for them to mention the writer in the songs, but I’m always appreciated in their interviews.

How much do you charge to write a song?
I have been charging Shs2m per song, but the price is definitely going to change next year.

What guarantee should someone have that their song is going to become a hit after paying a hefty Shs2m?
Every party should do their job. If I write you a song, I expect it to be a hit but it’s up to the artiste to push and promote it so that it becomes one. I love working with fresh talent because they are excited and have the urge to make it big in the industry, so they work hard to push their songs.
How do you go about writing a good song?
Before I write a song, I first study the artiste, then check out their vocal range to judge their capability so that I don’t write something out of their vocal range. It’s like you can’t buy a cloth for a child when you don’t know the size they wear.

There are a lot of good writers in the music industry, what makes you different?
I do music that appeals to both the young and old. My lyrical content is mature as well.

What makes a good artiste in your opinion?
The voice, ideology and versatility. A good artiste should also know how to play different instruments.

You got onto the scene as part of the Byg Tym trio. What happened to the group?
By the time we started, we were young and as time went on, different responsibilities came in, which led to limited communication, so we sat down and decided to become solo artistes.

As Byg Tym, you were under your mentor Silver Kyagulanyi’s Sikia Records, then you joined Maro’s Vocal Police and later Toniks’ Vibrations. Why don’t you settle?
Sikia is like a home to me and like I said earlier, Silver Kyagulanyi is like a father to me. It’s where I began my music journey from and it is still my home. As for the rest, we might not be working together but we are still friends and I still do stuff for them.

So which label are you under now?
I’m working with Platinum Entertainment and Vibrations.

What exactly do they do in your career?
Because of Platinum’s Shadrack Kuteesa’s experience in the game, he’s handling my management. He has done it for GNL and Keko among others, so I trusted him for that, while with Vibrations, it’s more of a mutual understanding. We are friends with Toniks who owns Vibrations and we help each other when necessary.

You have just signed with Platinum, what do you expect of them?
I expect the best from them. Of course international exposure, good management and more contacts.

What are some of the songs you’ve done?
Kasenyanku, Nalooba with Mun G, Sikuta, Katambala with Irene Ntale, Towakana alongside Ziza Bafana, Who You Are with Toniks and Gwe Weka, which is my latest.

What pays more. Being a singer or a writer?
Of course singing pays more because of the gigs. In writing, we are only paid once.

What else are you doing besides singing and writing?
I haven’t been doing anything else but I’m planning to start an art gallery soon. I realised that singing is a gift but I need to have a business.

Why an art gallery?
I did art in school.

What is your education background?
I went to Budo Junior School for Primary, Seroma Christian High School, and Progressive Secondary School for O’Level and Kings College Budo for A’Level. I then did a degree in Fine Art from Michelangelo School of Creative Arts.

Tit bits about Ray
What is your view about the homosexual bill?
I’m not gay so to me the government did the right thing because it’s against our culture and beliefs.
What is the size of your shoe?
Size 8.
What is your favourite colour?
White and black.
Favourite food?
Chips and chicken
Favourite sport?
How many balls are involved in a pool table game?
I think 14 balls.
Wrong they are 16.
I have never bothered to count.

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