Omusheshe singer Spice Diana, 24, has many pleasantly surprising revelations about herself, as she recently told Crystal Newman on the latter’s YouTube channel, Crystal One on One. Quick Talk brings you excerpts from that chat.
Welcome to the show!
Thank you so much. I have always wanted to be here, seated next to you…
You have been very busy! Do you ever get [stage fright]?
Yes, most of the time I do, but I just breathe in and out, since I don’t take anything that…you know [read, alcohol/drugs]. So, it is just my hype, the energy and my audience.
I love what you’re wearing. You are like this fashionista! [She’s wearing a white dress and fancy sunglasses]
I have always loved fashion. In fact I even studied fashion. I was more into art; I loved drawing in high school. When I went to university, I chose industrial fine art and design, but still majored in fashion and design.
So, your real name is…
…Namukwaya Hajara Diana. I was born in Mpererwe, then moved to Kabalagala with my stepdad after my mum separated from my dad. I moved on to Nansana, then Nakulabye…that is where the dream started.
Were you also passionate about entertainment in school?
Of course, but I didn’t know I would sing, because I was a very shy girl. I didn’t know I would ever step on stage and say ‘Hi People!’ I was about 16 when I joined the industry. I had my first hit when I was 17. It has been six years now.
In my school [Kampala Citizens College] everyone was a celebrity; it was so much into music, we were so much exposed to everything. I got involved in very many musical stuff. I started as a rapper. I was the only girl among so many guys. My mum [Beat Nantale] discouraged me; so, I had to switch and do other things.
I discovered I could write lyrics; so, I started writing songs.
During that time, was anyone particularly supportive of you?
Yeah, the first artistes I met were Maro, GeoSteady…other artistes were young; we were in the same hustle. But they inspired me a lot. That is when I met my first producer Dr Fizol. He gave me an offer to do Onsanula…
How many siblings do you have?
[We are] three. I am the first-born. I have been a mother, father to my siblings. My mum is now a single mother, so I have been trying to help raise my younger siblings.
How old were you when your parents separated?
I was around five. I don’t know what really happened. But after that, she met our stepfather and he raised us so well till S.3, and same issues happened. So, it has been me, my mum and my siblings.
Are you in touch with your biological dad?
They separated when I was five, so, there was no bond. Too bad he wasn’t in my life. There was a time when things were so tough and I went back hoping he would help, but he wasn’t there for me. I was so heartbroken… But I respect him and we are occasionally in touch.
Has any of your siblings followed you in music?
All of them. They are really talented. One is into the camera thing and he is only 13. He edits videos and does so many things. He told me he wants to do audio and video production. Our lastborn is about eight and she says she wants to be a dancer and she dances so well. But I don’t want to put them out there now.
When did your mum find out about your music career?
When I started going to nightclubs to push my music. [She says she explained to her mum that she needed to stay out at night sometimes]. I would go to clubs straight from school with extra clothes and in the morning by 6 am I would be at school. I would get some free time to sleep. I did this for two years. I had a program from Monday to Sunday. There was Wallet Pub, Mona Lisa, Silk, High Table…different clubs, then go to school in the morning. My first hit came when I was in school.
Did you ever feel like taking a break?
I was almost giving up at university, by the way. It was really hard to manage the time. There is a time I had to fly out of the country – Dubai, UK… – and I had papers almost at the same time.
I almost dropped out, but decided to focus on school and do the other things later. But I kept the same pace: do music, interviews, shows, then class, but when it came to upcountry shows, I would say, I am not doing this. It was really tough.
Looking back, would you do it differently?
No. I felt, for school, this is my money [paying the tuition]. I hustle a lot to get this money.
Have you used what you learnt at school in your career?
Since I majored in fashion and design, I cannot sit and [have a career there]. But I have a stylist and designers. I share my ideas with them. [She said she uses 50 per cent of her skills and ideas in her concerts and videos; no wonder she is considered Uganda’s most stylish artiste.]
Are you happy with the way things are going?
Very happy, although there is pressure to do more.
How do you handle the pressure of being [a celebrity]?
I have never taken a break. Even after concerts I never rest; if there are gigs coming in the following day, I am good to go. I focus on the positive vibe. I try not to work on pressure, because then you never deliver. I don’t focus on what other artistes are doing, I do everything at my own pace.
Who inspires you?
I want to be me. Maybe that is why I stand out. But I learn from each and everybody. You may not be in the circle I am in or music, but I learn from everyone.
Do you set goals?
Not so much. I just see things happening most of the time. I just do what I am supposed to do. God plans for me. Look at the saga of ‘32’ and ‘the wig’…I was crying about it, yet God was planning for me. [Spice Diana had some unfortunate viral videos with her wig flying off on stage in one, and then telling Farida Nakazibwe in a TV interview that she got 32 points at A-level. The highest possible score is 20. The two incidents actually worked in her favour later.]
Are you dating?
I am not. My focus is on my music.
A lot of ladies say dating is so difficult as an artiste.
It is hard to get someone who will like you as Namukwaya. When you get someone who likes you as Spice Diana things get really hard. As female artistes we have to take our time…otherwise, you might date the whole world. It is important to have someone who likes you as a human being, not as an artiste. And some people will not stand the busy schedule. I can be in one district one minute and another district the next hour.
And how do you keep in shape?
I don’t like food a lot. I drink a lot of juice, water, tea. I don’t do gym, but I am planning to start. My shows are workouts on their own, though. Like on Christmas Day, I had nine shows…
Do you have investments or savings, now that money is coming in?
Well, I have so many plans and I am already working on them. [The year] 2019 was very good to me. I will share when everything is ready. Just know, the money you fans give me at concerts, I am using it well; you are going to be proud of your Spice Diana tomorrow. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke; so, I spend my money very well.
Are you working on new music?
I have so many videos in stock. You know I have my own studio; I am the CEO, 32 Records [talk about lemonade from lemons!] I have over 30 songs in studio.