Nick Nola Releases An Under Water Music Video with Mufunye
While releasing what is perhaps the first under water music video in East Africa with Mufunye, his first song of 2012, we listen in on an interview with talented Nick Nola.
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First published: January 9, 2012
After older hits like Habiba, Nkusiimye and Aliwa (a follow up to a previous collaboration with Jamal Wasswa Aliwa Oyo), and after several collaborations with artists on hits like Mother Africa, Brand New Day, Dusk till Dawn, Aliwa Oyo, Nkoye Okulinda, Sembera Eno, we are starting to get a sense of direction of what Nick Nola is bringing to the table in African or Ugandan music after releasing the RnB/Dancehall/Hiphop track - I Love the Way, the fast tempo, very vocal RnB hit Marianna, and the much softer and even more vocal, soulful RnB performance of the recently released Mufunye (I’ve Found the One). While embracing some of the old school basics when it comes to “singing”, he seems to take a lot or risk in his music, ultimately revealing a sound and style that is uniquely defining Nick Nola in the music industry in Uganda.
Nick Nola has spent much of 2010 and 2011 in studios working on what has been labeled as The Honey Moon Project releasing only a couple of tracks during that time. The Honey Moon Project consists of a selected number of songs with several producers such as Washington, Swangz Ave, Good Enuff, Kiwuwa and Allan. The 13 songs selected for his album will consists solos like Mufunye from Swangz Ave and Marianna from Good Enuf, but also with collaborations such as I Love the Way which features the dancehall queen, Bella and Brooklyn, New York rapper Okai and a couple more collaborations.
To bring in 2012, Nick Nola has decided it was time to release Mufunye, a song written by Edwin Kasolo and produced by long time friend Benon of Swangz Ave. At a time when many young male musicians in Uganda are so concerned with bringing something “different”… focusing on only the entertainment factor in music, in Mufunye, Nick Nola brings us back to basics and reminds us to “sing”. While entertaining us with an underwater music video – the first such attempt in Eastern Africa, Mufunye not only tests his skills as an actor but the song vocally sets Nick Nola apart from many in the industry. For those that were not convinced by his vocal performance in Marianna… Mufunye should seal the deal.
Read review at Hipipo.com
Beatrice Lamwaka chatted with Nick about his music career in Garden City, Kampala a few months back discovering a young man who loves sports and plays basketball, tennis, badminton and soccer in his free time away from music.
Beatrice: Do you feel that you have achieved some of your dreams?
Nick: Oh yes! My dreams come true all the time… For example there have been my appearances on CNN, BBC and Aljazeera... I am proud to have sung with a number of big names in Uganda's music industry (Meshach Semakula, Blu 3, Peter Miles, and others) in A Little Bit of Love - a song dedicated to Uganda's struggle with HIV/AIDS. I sang with Joan Kawalya from Afrigo Band… I have always loved Afrigo Band. I also earn my living out of music and THAT is a dream-come-true for me. I have a growing loyal fanbase – THAT is a dream-come-true. I have sung to big crowds and that makes me feel good…
Beatrice: Have you always wanted to be a musician?
Nick: I have always wanted to be a musician. I have been singing since the age of four. As a child I sang songs of Genuine, Usher Raymond, New Edition, Boys II Men, and Michael Jackson… When I was in secondary school, basketball became a huge part of my life and I even played in FUBA League matches but later I had to follow my dream of becoming a musician.
Beatrice: Do you have an album?
Nick: I have so many singles that could probably make about two albums…(laughs) I am currently working on compiling an album (The Honey Moon Project). After recording all the songs in Uganda I send them to my management in the US… which takes some time but I hope that I will have the album out soon.
Beatrice: Do you write your own songs?
Nick: I wrote Habiba… I wrote my part in I love the Way, part of Mother Africa, Sirina which was produced by Benon, Marianna produced by GoodEnuff, and Ako Wapi, with the help of some people who have better knowledge of Swahili… that too was produced by GoodEnuff. More and more I am opening up to more people contributing to the writing… They may write the song and I add a little to it to make it work for me. Mufunye was written by Edwin Kasolo. Or I might begin something… someone adds to it and then I eventually finish it off… a couple of songs are partly written by my management at UGPulse in this way.
Beatrice: What inspires you to write?
Nick: (Sigh) I am inspired by personal experiences. I write when I am dumped… when I am in a good relationship… when I have had a quarrel with a girlfriend… or when I am happy. Sometimes, I am simply asked to write a song.
Beatrice: Which artists to do you dream of collaborating with?
Nick: I would love to work with Usher, 2Face, Yousour Ndour and Afrigo Band.
Beatrice: Do you feel pushed into learning other languages so that you can widen your market?
Nick: Most of the songs that I have been involved in, that have done well, I have mostly sung my part in English… for instance Mother Africa…even much of Sembera Eno. There are so many artists singing in Luganda but it’s only when you use the language and sing in a good way then the song will hit the air waves. I sing in Luganda because of who I am and happy to sing in both English and Luganda.
Then came a period when my song, Habiba which I sang in Luganda, Swahili and English became an instant hit. Many of the songs I did in English didn’t work. Aliwa came next. It has two versions; an RnB and crank version. I was in studio with producer Hanz and we did a zouk version and included some Luganda words… I listened to the song a bit and I created Aliwa, and then Jamal came in when he heard what I recorded and said he was wanted to sing some part of it. And so I sang it with him. A friend asked me to do a zouk version and another version produced by Easy Tex, a danceable version for the club to follow up with Habiba, which I did alone in 2008.
The video of the song came two years later. The song was powerful enough and we felt something was left out and we felt the need to make a video for it. I did two other songs… Nkusiimye in 2009; I needed to something more mature in 2008/9 as a lot of musicians were singing in Luganda… like Michael Ross, and Juliana. I felt the need to sing in my local language. My writing had changed a little bit, from dancehall to love and I needed to bring it in a new way, more mature in my lyrics. Even the video is more mature; the wedding scene, the dressing, and the priest at the altar.
Beatrice: But you had already sung some songs in Luganda… Like Sembera Eno…
Nick: For Sembera, a McKenzie song, which also has Rabadaba and GNL, done in early 2008, I had originally wanted to do a dancehall song with the chorus and the bridge in English. At that time, McKenzie approached me and asked me to do a song with him and Hannz. I tried the chorus I had written for the dancehall song and they matched perfectly… and then we included the Luganda words to build the song. Two weeks later, the other artists were included on the song and it sounded great.
Beatrice: And the video…
Nick: The video of Sembera was also done two years later. By then I was under UGPulse Management, and they decided there was still unfinished business with some of the songs like Aliwa and Sembera… we needed the songs for promotion. My fans were also desperately requesting for a video for Sembera and my management and I felt we needed to answer their call. So with McKenzie's permission we shot the video with the collaboration of GNL and Rabadaba and they agreed to do it with the help of UGPulse.
Beatrice: How are your videos performing?
Nick: I think Sembera launched me into the next level, especially after I joined UGPulse, it was played on every TV stations. Since then we have had I Love the Way and Marianna which have also done relatively well.
I Love the Way did very well. The song has an international approach… Rnb fused with dancehall… then a little bit of hip hop; each of us (Bella, Okai and I) are true to our genre. It all started with a call to Bella and she agreed to work with me. We married different verses and then went to Washington to produce the song. For the video we created a remix and that is when Okai was brought in. He is based in Brooklyn, New York. My management had known him for a while. He did his part in the song in the US. His part of the video was also done in the US where he was filmed by Soreel-Mayas GrafX.
Beatrice: So where do you see yourself in five years?
Nick: I am very proud of UGPulse. The future is bright and I am sure that so many good things will come out from my relationship with UGPulse. I hope to become a top musician… not just in Uganda alone… But for now I am comfortable with where I am. I also hope to start a music academy in order to give back to society… Not sure if that will happen in five years… but we’ll see.
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First published: January 9, 2012
Beatrice Lamwaka is finalist for the PEN/Studzinski Literary Award 2009. She is the author of Anena's Victory, one of Fountain Junior HIV/AIDS Series, a supplementary reader in primary schools in Uganda. Her published short stories have appeared in Gowanus Books, Women's World website, WordWrite-FEMRITE Literary Journal, as well as anthologies such as Words From a Granary, Today You will Understand, Aloud: Illuminating Creative Voices, Michael's Eyes; The War against the Ugandan Child FEMRITE publications. She was one of the pioneers of a British Council writing scheme that links Ugandan writers with established writers in the UK, and she is a member of Uganda Women Writers' Association (FEMRITE). She is currently working on her first novel and a number of short stories.