House masters: Dr Duda, a producer and pianist, J’Something, a vocalist and Guitarist, Mo-T who plays the trumpet, are the trio that forms Mi Casa Band. The house band, based in Johannesburg, South Africa was formed in early 2011 at a night lounge. A few months later, they released an album titled ‘Micasa Music’, which won several awards at the 18th Annual MTN South African Music Awards in 2012. Last Sunday, Mi Casa headlined the 13th edition of Blankets and Wine. Isaac Ssejjombwe caught up with them and they shared their musical journey and experience in Uganda.
What inspired the name Mi Casa?
The name Mi Casa means ‘My House’ in Spanish and it was derived from the fact that we are doing house music.
Does that mean you guys only do House music?
We don’t do House only, we fuse in a bit of Jazz, Soul, Afro and any other styles we feel like. We call it House in South Africa but outside we just call it music.
How did you guys link up?
We met five years ago. I (Dr Duda) was playing as a DJ in a certain club in South Africa when I got introduced to this guy, Mo-T, by his brother who also happens to be my good friend. He told me Mo wanted to do something with me so as I was busy mixing my songs, he started free styling with his trumpet (which he’s so good at by the way).
The sound that came from both of us was so awesome and from nowhere came this guy, J’Something.
He got the microphone and started adding in his vocals and next thing we knew, we were a team. We did not know each other but the musical magic on that day connected us to each other and five years down the road, there is a group called Mi Casa. We have toured all over the world, won awards, you name it.
What are some of those awards you have won?
We won the Best Dance Album in the18th South African Music Awards in 2012, we also won the Group of the Year in the same awards as well as Record of the Year for Heavenly Sent. Besides winning awards, we have also been nominated in Metro FM Music Awards and MTV Africa Music Awards, among others.
Dr Duda, do you do anything else besides deejaying?
I am not really a DJ, I am a producer who deejays to basically showcase what I do in studio. So you can say I am a producer/deejay. I have been doing this for the past 16 years. I produce all the band’s music.
Mo-T, is the trumpet the only instrument you play?
Yes. It’s what I have been doing since.
Do you plan on trying something else?
Yes, I can but you know sometimes when you love something too much you cannot find the time to try out something else. But I am willing to try other instruments as well, mainly because of the different sounds they have.
When did you start blowing the trumpet?
Well, I fell in love with the trumpet at an early age, but my father, Kgasoane Banza, who was also a musician with a South African Afropop band called Mango Groove, started teaching me the basics and other details about it when I was 10 years old. So the trumpet is pretty much the only instrument I mastered.
J’Something, Interesting name! How did that name come up?
It is basically because my real name, Joao Da Fonseca, is one of the hardest to pronounce, so to make it easy for everyone, I decided to adopt the stage name, J’Something.
Are you South African?
I am Portuguese, but I moved to Port Alfred in the Eastern Cape, South Africa when I was seven years old.
Did you guys expect what you saw and heard of Uganda?
Yes. The people are beautiful. And we did not think that you guys party that much. We were surprised to see people partying and having so much fun on a Sunday evening. In fact, we heard people saying they were going to work early morning yet we were with them all night long.
What do you know about Ugandan music?
We know some great Ugandan artistes such as Eddy Kenzo, who we have a project with already. We also know Chameleone and many other talented musicians.
Is Kenzo the only Ugandan artiste you are going to work with?
Everywhere we go, we link up with great musicians, famous or not, as long as their music makes sense. We are always open for collaborations.
How different are the countries you have visited so far from Uganda?
Africa as a whole is not any different. People are friendly, helpful but with Uganda, we can basically communicate. There are some countries you go to and people look at you and they are like; you are crazy because you are speaking English. Besides that, Uganda has its uniqueness, you guys are special and we are proud to have been here and shared our experience.
Back to the music, what is that one song of yours that you love?
We always say there is no better song. It is like having children; you cannot love them differently. Every time we record a track in studio, we put in the same effort, that is why they are all great, even those on the album that don’t come off as singles.
Apparently, South Africa has many artistes, what is the different about you guys?
We are so different because of the uniqueness in our sound, the way we write our songs and our performance is also different.
What is your most memorable moment on stage so far?
They are countless. One was last Sunday because being our first time in Uganda, we could not believe the love you guys showed us.
Most embarrassing moment on stage?
I (Duda) tore my pants while jumping on stage and it was a huge hole right in the middle while J’something tripped over a monitor and fell off the stage.
What happened after the pants got ripped?
I just ignored it and continued with the performance because there was no way I could ask for another pair of trousers, especially with this size.
What perks come with being artistes?
Doing what you love. There is no better perk than living the dream. This is what we wanted to do since we were children.
Besides music, do you have anything else you do?
We don’t have so much time. We are so busy with music that anything else is always in the back seat, but we also have our side hobbies and real passions that we do at home but most importantly, music keeps us busy.
So, do you plan to do music all your lives?
That is one thing we don’t really know. Only God knows. We don’t know if we are going to be here tomorrow. We hope and pray that we will keep doing music for the rest of our lives because it is what we love doing.
What is your ideal destination?
Home. That is the best destination on planet earth. Being at home with family but everywhere else is amazing because we live on an incredible planet and live in an amazing continent.
In three words, how would you describe Uganda?
Inviting, cultural and beautiful.