Henry Kiwuuwa starts Grace Records
Another edition of the Pearl of Africa music awards was launched just the other day and as you can expect the temperature around Uganda’s music industry is heating up with all stakeholders making sure all goes well come d-day. All goes well meaning many are definitely looking forward to winning an award or two when the awards day finally comes.
One of the most prestigious awards to be given out during this annual event is that of Producer of the year. Finding the man who currently holds that title wasn’t an easy feat I must state. It took weeks of numerous appointments and phone calls before we finally set up an appointment for a low down on what he expects at the up coming Pearl of Africa music awards, why he moved on from No-end entertainment to start his own Grace records and his love life. His award rests in the corner of his grace studios and just one glance at it speaks volumes in itself. His works are louder than his soft spoken self and his down to earth attitude can easily be mistaken for a genius character in him. Ladies and Gentle men the current holder of the producer of the year title at the last edition of the PAM Awards briefs us about the future.
Music Uganda: Hey by the way before we start, this is a nice house you got here.
Henry: Thanks man. It’s been a struggle for almost three years. When I actually first consulted my engineer on how much it would cost my plans. He alarmed me by mentioning a whooping 80 million shillings. But so far I’ve spend about 50 million on it.
MU: Now the Big one why did you move on from No-end studios?
Henry: I will put it this way. I think it was about time. I had struggled so much to make no End as a record company as well as create my own brand. In life people move on to bigger things. People build their lives.
MU: How did some artists that were used to you producing their songs at No-end entertainment take it?
Henry: That’s how I actually knew if people trusted me as an individual or if they only trusted me as long as I was at No-end entertainment. Most of them actually moved with me like Grace Nakimera, Sheilla Nvannungi, Mariam Ndagire, Ronnie Banton and a lot of upcoming artists who’d never produced even a single song. I guess they just wanted to know where Henry Kiwuuwa was.
MU: By the way what would you call your breakthrough production work? The work that you think strengthened the Henry Kiwuuwa brand and got you quite popular with recording artists.
Henry: I think it was Halima Namakula’s Sambagala back in 2004.
MU: Briefly take us through the line up of artists for whom you’ve recorded Hit songs.
Henry: Man the list is endless but just to take you through it. We shall start with Halima Namakula’s 2004 hit on which she featured Bebe cool Sambagala, Grace Nakimera’s Anfukula, Desire Luzinda’s Baswaze, Qute Kaye’s Ondeka, Sarah Zawedde’s Olabika bulungi, Juliana’s Diana, Ronnie Banton’s Kawuna, Henry Tigan’s Lwaki Oninza and Abogezi, Iryn Namubiru’s Empisazo, Buchaman’s Tukumatira, Jose chameleon’s Sivyo Ndivyo and many others.
MU: Wow that’s quite a mention. So how do you manage to create hit tracks?
Henry: I usually take an artist’s idea then advise them accordingly if it can work for the market. However I can my style fusion. I could easily mix a Zouk track with a reggeaton baseline just to create a product that appeals for both the urban and rural market. Meaning I try to make sure my sound can be played on stations such as CBS, Radio Simba e.t.c. as well as urban radio stations like Sanyu FM and Capital Radio. I also try to make sure my sounds are strictly club friendly, then I also usually advise my artists on how to promote their music on the radio, television and in the press. If I find that an artist is still lacking I send them to a voice trainer or song writer so that the end product comes out perfect and if they are hesitant I usually refund their studio fees.
MU: You are still holding the title for producer of the year accorded to you at the last edition of the Pearl of Africa music Awards. Do you think you will scoop it again this year?
Henry: (smiles) Well I must say there’s many good producers out there doing a great Job but sometimes it is the relationship between the producer, the video producers and the press. Many producers today do good work and then send their artists to poor video producer which instantly kills the song and this count so much. I enjoy a good relationship with these and make sure fine videos follow my music. So I can’t predict the outcome of the awards however, I think I am also working hard and if the people think I deserve the award once more then that’s quite okay with me. I have quite a number of artists I worked with toward the end of last year and they are right now shinning.
MU: So what’s the future of your New Record Label Grace records?
Henry: I hope to promote a lot of upcoming talented artists. If I notice potential in an individual I shall come hard on them so I can build them musically. I want such artists to be ambassadors of Grace Records wherever they go.
MU: There’s word that sometimes you are hired to put final touches to other people’s works in other studios besides your own?
Henry: Oh yes I always do that but sometimes I am too committed musically. However I work with two other talented producers Jose and Vincent to whom I passed many of my skills just like my trainer Ken Lubwama (now with Fenon records) did for me. Ken taught me the a to z’s of music production way back while he was still a producer at Kasiwukira studios.
MU: What if the studio was abroad you’d you find time to go over and do some production work for artists over there?
Henry: Yes indeed I actually might be traveling to Ghana later this year to work on some projects with some artists over there. I worked with them here and they feel I should do some extra production work with them. One of them was an artist called Prickie whose music did quite well in Ghana. So all are welcome if you feel Kiwuuwa has the touch that you feel.
MU: Did you find it hectic setting up Grace records?
Henry: Man it was really a challenge but I finally came through. I managed to negotiate a loan of 30 million shillings to buy all the equipment and agreed on amiable terms through which I shall be paying it back and I am sure it will work out.
MU: Hey by the way besides music production, does Kiwuuwa find some free time to engage in his Hobbies?
Henry: I hardly find the time but when I do, I try to watch all kinds of music videos and listen to all sorts of music from allover the world so I can pick an idea or two for my production work.
MU: Are you dating somebody?
Henry: (nervously smiles) Oh yes I have a fiancée called Angel. She’s a gospel recording artist.
MU: And what’s your shoe size?
Henry: Size nine.
MU: What’s your favorite cologne?
Henry: Well, am not too into colognes and perfumes. I Usually use what my fiancée has bought for me .She usually just places them on the dressing table.
MU: Do you like shopping?
Henry: I am not really into shopping. My fiancée usually does that for me plus my brothers Steve and Robert usually shop me clothes because am their kid brother (laughs)
MU: What makes you laugh so hard?
Henry: I Love sharing jokes and listening to jokes. So any hilarious joke will make my day.
MU: What things do many don’t know about Henry Kiwuuwa the individual.
Henry: (looks to the ceiling and thinks for a while) Yeah I’ve remembered. Henry Kiwuuwa used to be a boxer while in High school at Lubiri S.S.S. I used to take part in many inter school tournaments against schools like Kololo S.S.S. I was also hoping to become an architect, I actually studied civil engineering and did a Job stint with the National housing corporation but I still remained uncomfortable. It’s not what I exactly wanted to do so I deviated back to music production.