ELIJAH KITAKA is a multitalented singer, songwriter, producer and instrumentalist, who recently signed with premier music label Swangz Avenue, becoming their first male artiste signee. Quick Talk caught up with him at the Swangz Avenue studios for a chat.
Congratulations, man! And who exactly is Elijah Kitaka?
Elijah Kitaka is a musician, drummer, producer, songwriter and a responsible man. I grew up with music already in the house because we used to have musical instruments at home and I found myself falling in love with the drums which I also used to play in church when I was as young as seven years.
At school, I also used to be in choir. At first, I was only a drummer and the singing came in later when I got exposed to working with so many artistes.
Which schools did you go to?
I went to White Angels primary school in Najjanankumbi, St Lawrence Paris Palais, Namilyango SS and Kisubi High School. I did Software Engineering and Multimedia at Aptech Institute.
What fascinated you so much about the drums than any other musical instruments?
I believe drums are the heartbeat of a band; if a drummer makes a mistake, the whole band gets disorganized because it is the drummer who keeps the tempo. I liked the fact that it is a very rhythmic instrument and groovy.
Were you part of any band?
Yeah. I have played in quite a number of bands in Kampala like Janzi band and Quela band, but they would mostly be one- off gigs. I have played more with artistes than bands; as an independent instrumentalist for singers like Maurice Kirya, Kaz Kasozi and Limit X. I have also played at various music festivals in and out of Uganda.
Is music all you have ever wanted to do?
Actually the first thing I wanted to be was a fashion designer. I wanted to design and tailor clothes that even at school, I used to draw designs of clothes in my books since I loved fashion so much. So, if I weren’t into music, I would definitely be a fashionista.
How did you end up at Swangz Avenue?
In March 2020, I released my first album, Son of Kalooli, which marked the beginning of my professional singing career, but unfortunately it is when the Covid-19 lockdown came in [please don’t remind us!].
But due to the fact that people were home, I got a chance of some people getting the time to tap into my music. When things opened up, I started getting a few performances and this gave me a chance to interact and get noticed by the likes of Benon Mugumbya [Swangz Avenue boss].
When Swangz Avenue was organizing Roast and Rhyme, I called Benon and asked him if I could perform with my band and I was given a chance to be the opening act.
So, for a year and half before I was signed, I was at Swangz already doing production in studio and shows like the Azawi and Winnie Nwagi concerts. So, getting signed was a journey of being patient, building connections and understanding each other.
What exactly do they do as your management team?
They handle the business side of things, because as an artiste, I cannot do everything like distributing my music and marketing. So, I sing and record the music and they handle the rest.
And how has it been like so far?
I am happy to be here and it has been a lot of learning and interacting. It is really a humble family but also hardworking and focused because it is still business at the end of the day.
You are the only guy among the four ladies; who do you get along with the best?
I spend a lot of time with Azawi especially in studio and I think I interact with her so much because she comes to studio more often than the others and we are just a vibe together.
But the rest are also a vibe; Vinka is a very big vibe but she is too busy out there and rarely here [at Swangz Avenue studios], Winnie Nwagi is also my very good friend. With Azawi, of course, we can’t spend so much time together and don’t come up with something; we are cooking a lot of things together; you should watch out for.
How would you describe your sound?
I would describe my sound as an Afrocentric sound. We are going into a phase in music where we are trying to open up the borders than closing ourselves in.
I am focusing a lot on doing music that is Afrocentric to the world; so, when I am doing music, I think about Africa, and not Uganda. When people say my music is different, I understand because I am trying to be different.
Which local artistes do you enjoy listening to?
I cannot single out particular artistes but I love listening to kadongo kamu of long ago and the oldies kind of music because it is the sound of the future, though people don’t know about that but these days artistes go back there, pick up the sound, clean it and give it a new taste. But I also listen to the entertaining artistes in this generation.
Who would you wish to collaborate with?
I would like to collaborate with Joshua Baraka, Fik Fameica and obviously my fellow Swangz Avenue artistes.
With Ndi Wuwo and Nothing released, are you working on an album?
I am working on an extended play (EP) which is soon coming out.
How do you spend your free time?
I go to gym especially in the mornings. I love cooking... I also love watching movies and they are actually a big inspiration in my music, because the stories in movies are so emotional and the storylines are usually inspiring.
Are you dating?
It is complicated. But I won’t say if I am in a relationship for now.
What kind of woman would sweep you off your feet?
I just love a woman that is fun, because I am a stubborn and playful person when it comes to being with a woman. A woman that understands who I am and a friend to me; not just blinded by love but also someone I can easily talk to. My crush is Tems [Nigerian artiste].
Now, what is it with you and shorts?!
[Quick Talk is actually surprised that he found Elijah wearing jeans trousers. Dude is always in shorts.] I love shorts so much. It is not like I like showing off my legs but I feel more comfortable and free when I am in shorts and vests. I also put on trousers but it is rare; when I do, everyone looks at me in astonishment.
How does the future look like for you musically?
My dream has always been to be a very big artiste in the world and I am just working upon achieving it. I spend a lot of time in studio to the point of sleeping there sometimes, but I love it because it is who I am.