Miika Mwamba, From Finland with an African Sound.

By Joel Isabirye

 Miika Mwamba is a producer from Finland who has produced a series of Ugandan musicians such as Ziggy Dee (‘Eno Mic’), Mad Ice (‘Baby Girl’) and a very popular Tanzanian musician in Uganda, Saida Kaloli.

The name Mwamba means Nut in Lingala.

This interview is slated for publication on the Center for African Music Website.

At the Center for African Music www.c4africa.com we are thankful for your support to the East African and the General African Music industry.

Q: As an acclaimed producer (in my view the best) on the Tanzanian Music scene what factors do you believe contributed to your success?

A: Well, it's a bit hard to say my self, but I guess hard work and my production style played the main role. Also I kept myself away from media for many years (people didn't even know I'm white until they visit studio) and tried to keep my eyes open on what's going on in the scene. Treating customers/artists with respect (even the bad ones) is a MUST!

Q: What work are you currently engaged in as a producer and what kind of style would you say you produce?

A: I'm producing an album for Mad Ice (actually he's here next to me, he's giving you big up!). In the album we have lots of different styles; dancehall, r'n'b, afro-pop, house etc. I produce almost all styles of modern dance music.

Q. When was your first professional involvement with music? Why did you pick on the name Miika Mwamba?

A: It's Miikka not Miika. Mwamba is a simple translation of my original surname Kari. It's so long time ago... something to do with theatre or video score.

Q: Which were your earliest influences that shaped what you do today?

A: I've been listening to loads of different types of music, from hip-hop to jazz, electronic music to classical etc.

Q: What made you choose the production path instead of that of a recording and performing artist?

A: I can't sing or play anything in a "real" way. Besides, I like boxes with flashing lights ;)

Q: Do you run a production company by yourself? If yes what is this production company called?

A: Yes, Mwamba Productions.

Q: How did the liberalization of the electronic media (especially radio stations) affect the growth of Tanzanian Music?

A: I'm not Tanzanian (yet) so I probably better not to get involved with politics.

Q: Is there any artistic link between your work and that of older generation musicians in Tanzania?

A: Might be. I like those old songs. Also traditional stuff is great!

Q: How would you describe that link?

A: Hard to say....

Q: which is your mastered musical instrument? In recording is your preference digital or analog processes?

A: Like I said, I really don't properly master any musical instrument. Digital, analog is damn too slow to use. It has a good sound though.

Q: Is there any advantage of your preference over the other?

A: Nope

Q: What is your take on the copyright dilemma in Tanzania?

A: None. It'd be nice thou, I'd be having one of those fancy cars also ;)

Q: Bongo flavor from Tanzania has been significant to musical developments in East Africa. Was that intended by the musicians and producers based in Dar e Salaam i.e. to spread the sound to East Africa?

A: You know these things just happen. Also Kenyans have affected Bongo Flava a lot.

Q: In the past audiences followed the artist fanatically. Now they seem to follow the songs and do not seem to care who sang which song as long as the song is good. What explains this trend and what does it imply for your work and for Tanzanian musicians?

A: I think that trend is good. It's not enough to have a big name, so people try to make better songs. Competition is always good to some extent.

Q: Does language become an issue in the works that you produce in terms of the success of the records?

A: I think so. We've tried to promote some Swahili tracks here in Finland with not much success; I guess Finnish tracks wouldn't do any better in Tanzania.

Q: Does it pay for the producer or artist to stick to one style of music?

A: In most of the cases I guess so. But you might wear out quite soon too.

Q: What is the Government opinion of the music currently overflowing in Tanzania?

A: I'm not Tanzanian (yet) so I probably better not to get involved with politics.

Q: What would it take for an African artist to cross over internationally?

A: Good music, good promo and tons of good luck!

Q: What is involved in your daily schedule as a producer?

A: Every day is a different schedule. THANK GOD!

Q: You are from Finland, so we are told. Was it easy for you to get cooperation from the Tanzanian music fraternity? If not how did you break into their industry as a producer?

A: As I pointed out, for about three years very few people knew I was not Tanzanian. Those who worked with me couldn't care less where I come from. So yes, it wasn't that hard.

Q: Thank you very much Miika

A: You're welcome Joel

To read more about Miika Mwamba, Mad Ice and other artistes on his label, visit