All geared up . Seven years in the industry with three concerts, a number of hits along the way, possibly the artiste with the most endorsements and one of the most booked artistes on the music scene, Spice Diana is enjoying a ride on the charts right now. Isaac Ssejjombwe caught up with her ahead of her fourth concert this evening at Lugogo Cricket Oval.
How ready are you to take on Cricket Oval?
I am nervous, I am excited and happy but the nervousness is because of happiness.
What informed your choice of venue this time round?
I do not know if you came through to my last concert at Freedom City but very many people who had bought tickets could not access the venue because it was full. They complained and asked why I had taken the concert to a small venue and when I visited social media, they were suggesting that I get a bigger venue that could accommodate all of them so that is why I decided to take this concert to Cricket Oval.
With a lot of spending in December, why would you risk a concert in January?
Holding a concert in January is like having a concert any other month of the year. It is just a mentality that people have. I have always had my concerts in January and they have always sold out because I have a full year of preparation so there is no way I would change the dates.
I could not have a concert in January last year because the economy was still under lockdown because of Covid-19 and I had to be considerate of people who needed time to stabilise financially and emotionally so this January was the perfect time.
Cricket Oval is a huge venue that has humbled not just some local artistes but foreign ones as well. Where do you get the confidence that you can actually pull it off?
I decided to have a concert at cricket oval not to brag or prove anything. I chose a venue where my people would be comfortable. I will not care if only 10 people come or 100 or 10,000, as long as everyone is comfortable and happy. If we sell out, well and good. If it was all about the numbers, I would have gone back to Freedom City but I did not want my people to have the same experience they had last time where there was no breathing space, seats were removed to create space and everyone was uncomfortable.
If you manage to get the numbers at cricket oval, will it become your permanent venue for upcoming concerts?
I do not have conditions in my music career. I can decide to go back to Freedom City or Kololo Airstrip or even Papaz Spot. I do not have any limitations when it comes to my career.
How different is this show from your previous shows?
A lot is going to be different. We are giving away some presents, including motorbikes, we will offer accommodation to the vulnerable people, including the disabled, the elderly and children. The whole experience is going to be different and then the production is something that you cannot dare miss. We are going to have the biggest stage ever. It will be a live band show.
A live band session for you alone or everyone that will be supporting you?
Every artiste who will come through has had rehearsals with me so there will be no CD playback at this concert. Expect the best from me.
The police earlier at a press conference said they would not allow children at your concert because of what transpired at Freedom City a few weeks ago, yet you are saying you are going to accommodate them. How is this going to happen?
My music appeals to so many people, including children and this show is not going to be discriminative. We have a place organised for the children. Safety is one of our major responsibilities and that is why we chose cricket oval in the first place.
Your last concert was a success, so we expected your team to organise this particular one, but it is not the case. Why did you sell it?
The person said to have bought this event is Mukaya [a promoter, real name Living Wamala], but he is my friend and has been promoting me for a very long time and you cannot organise a concert on your own. Even people I do not know have been with me in preparations. Mukaya is a flexible person and easy to work with. We all have responsibilities at this concert.
How would you rank yourself at this point in the industry?
I rank myself as Spice Diana.
What has contributed to Spice Diana’s success in the industry?
A lot of prayers, hard work, an amazing management team and of course my fans.
You released an EP last year that many people considered average. It is those people who are now praising Siri Regular, which is off that EP. What do you have to say about that?
There is a lot of negative energy in our industry. Even if you do something extraordinary, still someone will come out and trash it. When I did my EP, I felt it was something good for the industry. It was endorsed by most artistes, who also came through to the listening party but you can never please everyone. You do what you can and leave the rest to God.
What has been your pushing factor in this industry?
Knowing where I come from, knowing that I am in a better place than where I used to be and being grateful, but most importantly my fans. I have been shown a lot of love and support from different people everywhere I go. Those people give me a reason to keep going.
According to a list that is based on research by the National Promoters Association coordinator Andrew Mukasa commonly known as Bajjo, it is said you are worth Shs3.5m in terms of artiste booking in Kampala. Is this true?
Uganda is a free country where everyone is entitled to their opinion but all in all there is reality. I know how much I am worth and how much I charge for performances around Kampala and beyond. So that list cannot distract me at all. I cannot wake up in the morning and tell you how to do your job or conduct your business.
Last year, the Ugandan music scene was predominantly ruled by Nigerians. Was that okay with you?
Nigerians coming in would not be a bad thing but we are under-priced in the process. A promoter will give a Nigerian $50,000 and to stage a concert and then decide to pay you Shs2m that is why I have not performed on their stages. I do not know why they do not value us yet in most cases they do not perform to the expectation of the crowds yet the Ugandan artistes put up memorable performances.
What advice would you then give the promoters?
I call upon them to invest more at home the same way Nigerians are doing back in their countries than insulting us because we have the potential.
During Sheebah’s concert last year at Serena, you came on stage and performed Silwana with Sheebah, doing Carol Nantongo’s part, why did you do that?
That was the script. I was asked to sing Nantongo’s part and I did not have a problem doing it because it is also Sheebah’s song.
Last year still, you fell out with promoter Mutima and you demanded your money on stage. Was it the right call?
I did the right thing because I came to the show to perform and receive my balance and he had advertised me to perform and if I had not stepped on stage, it was my brand that would be damaged. We called him and he said he was not at the venue and that we should leave if we could not be patient. He then refused to pick our calls afterwards. I felt we were disrespected. We had cancelled other shows for this and drove to Masaka to be treated like that yet we work with many people, including deejays, make-up artistes, our media team, dancers and management team who all needed to be paid. So I did the right thing to demand for my payment because I had done my part.
You are mostly a jolly person. What annoys you?
Maybe meddling in my business, for example someone putting a price tag on me not knowing how I conduct my business but besides that, I do not concentrate on negative energy.
What is the biggest song in your catalogue?
My first breakthrough song will always be my best song. Onsanula was that song that put me out there. People embraced it so much and it literally started my music career. But I have also done good music that I listen to some songs and feel proud of myself.
And your worst song?
I have many, especially those I started with but there has been growth in my voice, I hav become more confident and I have gained experience over time. I cannot mention them because what I might say is my worst song could be someone’s favourite and I may end up hurting their feelings.
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