Benon Mugumbya of Swangz Ave
Benon Mugumbya of Swangz Ave lets us in on his journey from artist to producer and back.
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First published: June 8, 2010
Ugandans may probably know him as the soft spoken and smooth voiced singer. He is well known for his RnB songs such as Mumuleete, Nsazewo, My Lady.
The 30 year old singer was brought up by a single mum, Florence Mugumbya, having not known his dad after he passed away two weeks before his birth. To many of his friends, Benon is a two-faced personality. Some days, he is quite shy, (even during this interview), quiet, simple and friendly but when he wants to let his guard down, he will show his crazy side.
The public today vows that he is the country's most prized asset in the industry. With hits from his Swangz Avenue taking the top slots on Uganda's charts, he seems unstoppable at the moment.
Benon took time off his quite busy schedule to speak to UGPulse on his new found love, production.
Also read Ugandan Musicians: Meet Benon & Vamposs
Benon Mugumbya of Swangz Ave.
How long have you been into production?
Benon: I've been doing this for a while, I think over five years now. I started concentrating on it in my studio for two years now. I started out at Fenon Records under Steve Jean, and then moved to Good Enuff studios with Aydee and Pato where I got to learn most of the production stuff.
The public has this notion that you are not into singing anymore. Is that true?
Well, I've been getting this a lot. I would like to categorically state that I am still in the business though production has of recent taken more of my time.
What of the Benon and Vamposs thing? Are you still working together?
Nothing really happened. It is only because I cannot put out songs as often as I used to. That's it, nothing happened. Vamposs is still at Swangz Avenue. I am actually working on his album.
Swangz Avenue is your baby. What is its current status?
Well, it is currently a recording studio where artists come in and record their music. Maybe in the near future, I plan to make it a record label where we can sign up artists.
It seems like Swangz Avenue is the most sought after production house. What's the magic?
Yeah... I admit business is good and I thank God that I have been able, you know, to take it to that level and, you know... impact to the music industry. I pray that it goes on that way.
Production seems to be a piece for cake to you, considering the songs churned out from your studio. You seem not to encounter any hiccups along the way?
Production is fun; I love it but it is not easy either. Every single day is a challenge. I mean, you meet new guys you have never met. You know, you are going to do something that you don't know how it is going to sound like. Believe me; I do not go to the studio knowing how it is going to sound. I just follow my guts and everything falls in place.
There is a new breed of producers in town. If you faced off with other producers in the industry, would you take top accolades?
No...no...no... I can't because this is art. Believe me, I am still a baby when it comes to production. Seriously, there are a lot of good, talented producers out there that we don't even know. I mean, you cannot judge music like that.
So are there any of the talented producers who you look up to?
Yeah, of course so many like Aydee, Steve Jean, Henry Kiwuuwa and Ken Lubwama, among others. Most of these guys taught me a few things here and there on production. It helped me learn a lot and those lessons have made me the producer that I am today.
You seem to have a following of artists stuck to you. How many have you signed up at Swangz Avenue?
Well, we had taken on Rabadaba but got another company that came in and was interested in him, that is Ug Records, and I think they are doing a great job. We are also working with a new guy called James B; Vamposs is also under Swangz; myself... (laughs) that might sound ridiculous but hey, Swangz is a company and a lot of other artists I would not like to reveal right now.
Have you worked with any artists outside Uganda?
Well, we have worked with Bushoke, an artiste from Tanzania. There's another artist from Kenya we have worked with. I think that's a plus for me.
We hear stories of upcoming artists coming into your studios begging to record songs for free. How do you handle that?
I have done it before but unfortunately, I am not in position to help out. In a day, I get about two to three guys. It is quite hard for me. My hands particularly get tied when some of them do not know how to sing. I am also cautious when taking on some of them but if they got the talent, I consider them.
Out of all the songs you have produced, do you have any with a special attachment?
Ummm... well... So many but I think one of my favorites is still that Aziz Azion song, Nkumira omukwano. It means a lot to me. In my own collection, my favorite track is I know. I believe the message is inspirational and sends out a good message.
So does Swangz Avenue have a grand master plan?
Yeah, we would like to branch out to start working with a lot of people from neighboring Kenya and Tanzania. There are a few projects we are working on with a group from Namibia called "Gal Level". We hope that there'll be more projects coming in.
We also hope to take on more artists, talented ones at that... who we shall groom to be probably the best in the land (smiles).
So Benon, what assurance would you offer people out there that you will continue singing?
I am still singing and very soon, I am releasing something. Ugandans, especially my fans, should keep their ears to the ground. It's all good stuff from Benon and for the record, Benon and Vamposs is still tight and we will continue sticking together as always.
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First published: June 8, 2010
Olive Eyotaru Yemima is a graduate of Mass Communication. She first worked with Ultimate Media Consult as an intern and then as a features writer.
A Ugandan talented creative writer, Eyotaru now writes for both the local and international media including UGPulse.com.