Quick Talk met musician Irene Ntale, 25, one of the most sought-after singers today, with hits such as Nkubukinze and Gyobeera to her name.
[After some chit-chat:] Tell me about your family, Irene.
I come from a family of thirteen.
Thirteen? Oh my God!
Yes; five girls and eight boys. Five girls from my mum and eight boys from my dad’s other women [ouch! Hope the “other women” would not much rather have read themselves being refered to as “stepmums”.]
Five girls from your mum? Your father must have gone out in search of boys, then [Ugandan men like to pretend that women determine children’s sex!]
My mother was the main wife. My father died when I was one.
Uh, so when did he have all these children?
Some of my brothers are really old. I’m the second lastborn from my mum. I still stay with my mum, by the way [fine way to keep overzealous fans at bay].
Aaaaw, do you? She must be proud of you.
She is very proud. She makes sure I don’t stray and she prays for me. She doesn’t pray for me only; she also prays for my sisters.
Tell me about your education….
I went to Kitante primary school, Kitante Hill School for O-level and Makerere High, now Migadde College, for A-level. I did Bachelor of Procurement and Logistics Management at Kyambogo University.
Which of your songs is your favourite?
Gyobeera. I don’t know why, but it makes people happy, even children. When I sing it at weddings, children surround me.
That’s nice! Have you seen that image of a man coming out of a house in a slum with the word Gyobeera?
Would you stay in that place since “gyabeera gyobeera” (where he stays, you stay)?
To be honest, no. Nobody would want to stay in a slum; circumstances force them to.
What do you enjoy about making music?
I like singing and playing the guitar. It makes me feel happy and free. Also, when going through something rough [moments], it [music] rescues me.
Rescues you? When did it rescue you?
When I was still in Uneven band and we lost our bassist. We used to do everything together and when he passed away, I felt like all hope was lost. After his passing, I asked myself whether I should give up and I got my guitar and started playing.
Aaaw, bambi! But do you realise that guitar-playing business in sadness is so un-Ugandan? Why did you change your musical style by the way? Money?
No, money has never been a motivating factor for me. I used to do acoustic soul music; I used to sing deep emotional stuff and I realised people don’t want to be sad with you.
You know I used to sing about stuff that happened to me. I also wanted to increase my fan base –and I did, thank God – so, when I joined Swangz Avenue, I went commercial. I now feed both fan bases. [Ntale says she will soon be holding an intimate concert, the sort enjoyed by people who love her soul music, Quick Talk thinks.]
I hear, people don’t want to be sad with you. What were these sad things happening to you that you were singing about?
What can I say? I was young, coming from teenagehood. You have a ka-crush on someone and they don’t feel the same way [Yeah. That kinda sums up teenage sadness, by the way].
Which Ugandan musician do you most enjoy?
Mowzey Radio [Really!? He doesn’t even strum a guitar. Quick Talk was thinking more in the lines of Maurice Kirya…] His voice is very infectious. When he sings, he delivers. If he is singing about heartbreak, you also feel like you are hurting.
So, what colour of underwear are you wearing?
Wow, you know. Most people, and me too, would have to check. What is your preference?
Yes, there are thongs…
No no, not those ones. Are they comfortable? I like Frenchies [The cute girly boxers].
Haha, ok. What’s your favourite food?
Steamed matooke, chicken stew, avocado and nakati.
What’s your all-time favourite movie?
I think it has to be Sweet November. It’s a love story where Keanu Reeves fell in love with a woman who had cancer [What is it with this bouncy girl and melancholic things…?]
I like sad, emotional things. [Sigh!]
Why? The question I’m going to ask is not a sad one, though. Which news anchor, because he is handsome, makes you watch news?
Frank Walusimbi [Luganda newscaster on NTV. Women gush about this young man. Quick Talk should pay more attention, maybe…]
Oh my God, really?
I’m not saying he is hot, but he reads well. He keeps you interested.
Haha, that’s true.
I also like Sean Kimuli.
If you were allowed one memory, which would you keep?
Oh my God, just one?
What event in history would you change?
I wouldn’t change anything in my life. Everything happens for a reason; whether it is good or bad, it leads you to something.