Lilian Mbabazi - Motherhood, Music and Mathematics
Lilian. Photography by FACEStudios and stylist Gloria Wavamunno.

Lilian Mbabazi - Motherhood, Music and Mathematics

Maybe in the early days of Blu*3 I used to worry about people liking me for me. But these days it's pretty easy for me to gauge the genuine people in my life and the 'celeb-chasers'.

By Colin Mulindwa
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First published: February 25, 2013

Ddagala



Lilian, the Mathematician come Musician come Mother!!! Belated congrats on that last bit by the way! How are our baby and the mother doing?

Thank you, thank you. Laughing a bit about the mathematician part but yes it’s true I do love Maths and it was one of my favourite subjects in school. I’m doing fine and so is my son. He’s flourishing.

Lilian
Lilian. Photography by FACEStudios and stylist Gloria Wavamunno.

Cheesy question… What’s his favorite food?

He doesn’t really have a favourite food yet. He’s not a fussy eater... He pretty much eats anything you give him.

I often get offended when people misspell my name in variations... Does it hit a nerve when people drop in that extra 'L' into Lilian?

I am used to it now. In the beginning I used to find it rather irritating but now it's something that doesn't really bother me. When I can I will correct people but it's not the end of the world.

Lilian, your name will be carved high on stone, among the stars that have revolutionized the music industry in Uganda and East Africa. How have you found your solo singing career so far?

Wow... that’s quite an accolade. I don’t know about revolutionizing the music industry in UG and East Africa. So far I’m really enjoying my solo career. I love the music I’m putting out I think it’s quite representative of who I am and the type of music I want to make. I also love the live music aspect of my solo career... playing gigs with my band the Sundowners.

Lilian
Lilian. Photography by FACEStudios and stylist Gloria Wavamunno.

You are now well-established with a soulful and vocal sound… How do you compare it to the typical Blu3 pop style you were used to?

I think the music I’m making now is very different to the Blu*3 music. Blu*3 music was pop heavy and a lot of the music we were making then was not necessarily what we always wanted to sing but it worked for a girl pop group. The sound and music I am making in relation to my solo career is as you said quite soulful and vocal. I feel more comfortable with this sound. I feel it’s more true to me and my style of music.

Lilian with Kawa



Taking you back, one of your singles since you went solo, Kawa! The video definitely competes on a wide scale with western production!! Who was behind production? I can also see numerous acts keeping quiet in there!

Ha ha ha... yes... it was my second video as a solo artist (after Vitamin) so I felt I needed to make a statement. It was directed by Gasuza Lwanga and Onoh Ozongwu of Market Makers at the time. And the song was produced by Onoh Ozongwu.

Lilian with Vitamin



Yes... your first single Vitamin was widely applauded by the audience. Did the nerves strike you at that point in time before releasing your single as Lilian or you propped yourself on the fact that you were already an established musician with a Blu3 foundation?

I wasn’t nervous at all. I felt very comfortable with the song and I had a feeling it would do well especially because it was written by Moze Radio who has an excellent track record when it comes to writing songs for his group Radio & Weasel.

It’s A Party is a song… actually a jam (to me) you did with P-Unit! I particularly love the BEAT – a thing Kenyans are re-known for! Who was in production? It’s been on replay as I set up this interview!

We had a lot of fun recording that song and the video. P-Unit are a really cool bunch of guys who love to have a good time and make good music. So the song was produced by the ridiculously super talented Samurae (Talent Africa).

And currently the fans’ favorite from what I gather... Where was the inspiration drawn from for Danger (Love Letter)?

Lilian with Danger (Love Letter)



Ha ha ha yes this song has done really well and I love singing it. You’ll have to ask the writer Moze Radio where his inspiration came from LOL.

Hmmm will definitely do!… Is there an album in stock for the fans in 2013? What should fans look forward to?

I’m not promising anything when it comes to my album. I don’t want to rush it. I want to take my time and make sure it’s on point and that it’s absolutely something I can be proud of so who knows possibly 2013 we shall have to wait and see. It might even be a double release.

As for my fans they can expect more quality music and videos from me this year as well as live shows with my band The Sundowners.

Do you have any tracks done in Kinyarwanda – Your native language?

Yes... I have a beautiful song with Kitoko called Yegwe Weka where we sing in Kinyarwanda and Luganda.

Lilian with Gwe Weka



Does the future foresee a Blu3 reboot? We once heard the girls were planning a massive comeback… What is the last status on that?

I’ll let you know once I know ha ha ha ha... of course we would love to do a reunion concert and possibly an album when the time is right. At the moment we are all heavily involved in our solo projects so we need to find a time when we are all not so busy.

Lilian
Lilian. Photography by FACEStudios and stylist Gloria Wavamunno.

As far as I recollect, back then you were a tomboy that hated dresses like no other!... You seemed to have changed that perception recently though! Was that part of the “rebranding Lilian” campaign?

LOL... there was no “re-branding” per se. I’ve grown up; I’m a woman now and a mother... so my taste in clothes was bound to change too.

You started your own band, ‘The Sundowners’, at the start of 2011. How has the project succeeded from what you had envisioned? So In Love is one of the results of the band’s work. I love the Black n White afro centric touch to it.

Lilian with So In Love



Yes... this is one of my favourite things about being a solo artist... performing live with my band, the Sundowners. They’re amazing, extremely talented and very hard working. Yes I definitely had to feature them in my video So in Love which was brilliantly directed by Onoh Ozongwu. The black and white idea for the video just seemed perfect harking back to the speakeasy days of prohibition in the States and envisioning Lena Horne or Billie Holiday on stage. I wanted to recreate that feeling. Very soulful, sexy and grown up.

What drives your insatiable passion in music?

I wish I knew the answer to that one. It’s just something that has been with me since as long as I can remember. Even as a kid I would hum and sing all day driving my siblings crazy. I just can’t imagine myself doing anything else. Music is in me. I live it, breathe it, dream about it LOL yup it’s definitely a passion.

What’s your favorite track by Lilian?

Yegwe Weka a combination of Uganda & Rwanda because that’s me.

What do you think you would be doing now had it not been for the Coca Cola pop-star competition back in 2004 that you won alongside Jackie and Cindy?

Wow... that’s a really interesting question. I think I would still be involved in music in some way for sure. Definitely singing live music, possibly part of a band. I probably wouldn’t have the same exposure fame wise (not necessarily a bad thing) but I know I’d still be singing.

This question is asked to quite a number of artists so I’ll just pass it up to you as well under the presumption that you’ve never had a chance to answer it. Do you worry about whether people like you for the real you, or because you’re a celebrity?

Maybe in the early days of Blu*3 I used to worry about that, I was much younger and just starting out. But these days I really don’t worry about that. It’s pretty easy for me to gauge the genuine people in my life and the “celeb-chasers”. I also have a really great support system made of up of friends and family who love me for me and not the “Lilian” fame part so I feel extremely grounded and secure on that front.

What other gigs do you get up to besides hitting the studio to record and of course, motherhood?

Ha ha ha the same as every other person does... hang out with friends and family, take my son to school, pay bills, shop... and so on.

Does your hectic schedule give you ample time to spend with Asante? What do you two get up to on a typical day or weekend?

Of course my son is THE most important person in my life. He’s my number one priority. During the week I work at Radio City  from 10.30am to 3.00pm after taking my son to school and then after work I pick him up we hang out, read, play games watch cartoons and so on. On the weekends it’s about visiting family and friends, birthday parties, having fun generally and spending quality time.

Oh yes radio! Almost slipped my mind… How did Lilian end up in radio? 

In 2007, Capital FM got in touch with me and requested me to come and voice test for a presenter slot. I filled in on several slots on different days and when regular presenters were away/not available and eventually took over from Karitas on the breakfast show with Gaetano. After two and a half years at Capital I felt that I needed a change and needed to re-focus on my music so I left them (Capital).

How I joined RadioCity?... In 2011, Richard Sematimba (owner and MD of Radio City) was looking for presenters for his new station and he asked if I would be willing to come back to radio after my break. I agreed to take on the mid-morning slot from 10.30am to 3pm and the rest they say is history. I have been at RadioCity now hosting the mid-morning magazine for almost 2 years now (in April).

Working on radio is something that comes very naturally to me. Artists working on radio is not a new phenomenon and the two seem to go hand in hand.

Last word to your eagerly awaiting fans… talking about the album of course!

I just want to say thank you thank you thank you to my fans for their support. I really appreciate it... you have no idea. Without the fans I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing now. So I am extremely grateful. In terms of my album... Watch this space! You’ll be the first to know.

Lilian
Lilian. Photography by FACEStudios and stylist Gloria Wavamunno.

More:

- Lilian Mbabazi on VMBG Music

- Lilian Mbabazi Playlist

- Lilian Mbazi on Youtube

By Colin Mulindwa
more from author >>
First published: February 25, 2013
Colin Mulindwa graduated from the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town, South Africa in 2011. His love for African music and working with the owners of OurMusiq.com on other websites such as BlackMenWomen.com has allowed him to brush shoulders with the who's who in African Music. Look out for more interviews with a unique perspective. Colin can be contacted at colinmk256@gmail.com.