Making hits: He is one of the youngest music producers in Uganda. At just 25 years Producer Andre already has big hits to his name, including Nkwatako, Smart Wire and Tomba Wala. But for him, he hasn’t arrived yet until he has an international track to his name. Derrick Wandera caught up with him.
Who is Andre?
My real name is Andrew Ojambo. I am 25 years old and a staunch Christian. I love the Lord and keep close to Him every day. I am a recording artiste, producer, writer and voice trainer. I am behind some of the great music you listen to.
How and when did you get into the music industry?
In 2011, I started singing but I was not very sure if it was something I really wanted to dive into, but the talent was there right from childhood. I did a song with Gift of Kaddo, called Be With You, and the song became a hit. This gave shape to my music dream, seeing that I wrote and produced the song myself.
What other songs have you produced?
When I joined music, I had lots of stuff going on in my head so I shared them with some artistes and they helped to guide me. It was then that I chose to concentrate on music production. But once in a while, I do collabos.
So what would you call your breakthrough moment?
Man, I haven’t broken through yet. I have not yet reached a point where I can say I have achieved my dream in music. I look forward to a time when I will be producing international music and doing music with very prominent artistes.
What are some of the songs you have produced?
You will actually get surprised! Most of Sheebah’s music; Nkwatako, De way, Bamusakata, Smart Wire by Vampino, Kimala by Desire Luzinda, Give Me More by Maurice Kirya and Vampino, Akateteyi by Chosen, Dangerous by Ceasarous, and Bebe cool’s latest songs; Azina Aseka and Tomba Wala, among others.
But how come people don’t know you?
You know, God takes us step by step. I have seen myself mature day by day. The problem is that people always take themselves where they are not supposed to be and when they get there, they can’t sustain themselves on the ladders so when they fall, they fall real hard. For me, I want to cement every step that I take. I have the talent, so I want it to sell me not me to sell my talent.
Do you have any music training?
No. Like I told you, mine is a talent and it comes naturally. I think I also take after my father, Mr Jackson Bwire (RIP), who was a music trainer at church and in his youthful years he did quite some tremendous music stuff. Out of a family of six, it is only me who took music seriously. So I think this is the gift he left me.
What keeps you going besides the talent?
I like to try out new things. When I discover new things in some international artistes, I try them out and trust me, some people who have heard me sing do not tag me to the Ugandan music industry. They think I am either from Nigeria or somewhere else and you will find many of them arguing on the streets, even fighting hahaha (laughs boastfully). So that is what I want… to do different! I want to do international stuff here in Uganda.
What do you think of Ugandan music?
(Searches his computer as though looking for the answer on the Internet) The music is good but not up-to-date! Ugandan musicians fear to try out new things, they fear that their fans will run when they try out things out of this world. The industry is too wanting because there is a lot of work people are doing out there and it takes people who want to try out new things to copy and impart them to our industry and make it better. Very few artistes listen to other people’s music and that is the reason they are not growing. We keep dancing to the tunes of the 70s up to now and yet people are doing new things out of Uganda. Listening and learning does not mean you are going to do exactly what the other person is doing, it is only going to widen your thinking and area of operation. I have discovered new things that are making me different every day.
Who are the musicians that you look up to (idols)?
Akon, Chris Brown, Neyo, R. Kelly and Mario. I listen to their music and I learn a lot from them.
Timberland, J Witer Beats, Dr Odre and Andrew Blanks. These are people who work tirelessly to find new things to add to their music and when they get it, it really works out well.
What makes you different from other Ugandan music producers?
I get in touch with DJs, who tell me which beats are fancied by dancers. DJs play a huge role in music production because they listen to songs every time and this is one thing our producers do not do. Among all the producers that I have named for you, most of them have a history of deejaying.
Who is that one artiste you would like to work with here in Uganda?
Rachael Magoola. She is one artiste I know would not fear trying out a new thing. Babe sang a song in Lusoga, a thing no Ugandan artiste would dare do unless they were in a Busoga gathering. So I would like to work with her one day. I like Sheeba too! She is too talented, is not afraid to try out new things and she makes working with her easy. She is a sweet babe who will do anything to make sure she is the best and for me, that is commitment.
So how did you get to work with Bebe Cool?
I once had a relationship with one of his managers Tikita, so he asked Bebe to try me out and Bebe liked my work. But I like the guy too because he is one of those few artistes in Ugandan who does not undermine other people’s music. He will listen to it and learn. He is also a very hardworking and committed guy.
Who are the people helping you out in this journey?
My elder brother David OJ has played a key role in shaping my dream. I also work closely with Jeff Kiwa.
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
My ambition is to create a one of a kind music label here in Uganda. One that will live for generations that even my grandchildren will gain from it. But also I want to be unique.
(Scratches beard)… uhhm I will rest when I get these things. For now I am just doing my job. I know I have been nominated in the Zina Awards in two categories as best young writer and producer, but my eyes are looking beyond this.
What are some of the challenges you face as a producer?
My biggest challenge is artistes who really want to sing but cannot. You will find yourself not turning them away because you also want the money. Also, artistes do not want to give their music time; they will bring a song to studio today and they want it tomorrow. Then there are artistes who just do not want to pay up and producers who are not cooperative.
Any final words for people in this industry?
They should trust God and make their talents work for them because their talents live more than their work. I will leave them with a scripture: Proverbs: 23:23. (Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding -KJV).