Meet Wilson Nthuku a music producer, audio engineer and rock music aficionado

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2021 00:00 |
Wilson Nthuku is a music producer, audio engineer and rock music aficionado.

Wilson Nthuku is a music producer, audio engineer and rock music aficionado who has spearheaded careers of many Kenyan rock artistes. He opens up to Ngare Mukiria about what he’s been up to as far as rock music is concerned. 

How did the collective Kivulini and its name come into being?

In 2020 I was trying to find a way to make my studio a sanctuary for artistes.

Kivulini is a Kiswahili word that means under the shade and since my studio is in Ngong, it resonated with the environment, as this place can really get hot . 

How did the rock scene in Kenya get to be what it is now?

I found the rock scene active when I started producing professionally and I really liked it from the first moment I came into contact with it.

It was also at this time that I was starting to learn about music and it was what I was mostly feeding from creatively.

It all came about through friendships and fans; people who come together to form strong bonds with the same taste in music.

It’s not a big scene as it were before, but people like to experience something new and this has kept rock alive in Kenya. 

What rock bands/artistes have you worked with? 

Whilst studying Engineering at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), I started a small band called ‘Clan Elder’.

I’ve also worked with roch bands such as  Irony Destroyed, Petrika, Bizaro, Last Year’s Tradjedy, Mortal Soul, Chovu and Nekesa, a female singer.

Currently I am working with Power Slide who have an album coming up at the end of the year.

Tell us a bit about some of the projects you have done over the years? 

I have produced various singles for Irony Destroyed and their first EP: Strive To Legacy’ and Dead-Skin Remedy’s album Last Night in Arku. 

How long have you been in production and how did that come about?

Growing up, I really appreciated the standards of music production overseas.

Back then, I would easily pick out different characteristics of a ‘mix’. I started my journey in production in 2012 whilst in campus where I got exposed to live music for the first time.

I was always fascinated by how people were able to transmute emotions into sound.

I decided to pick up the guitar and later had the desire to record what I was playing, so I bought my first MIDI Interface and downloaded some music software.

I used to meet with a close friend over the weekends and experiment with my gear till dawn

How are local rock groups making an income from both oversees and local audience?

Its honestly a challenge as you need a demography there. Because of the restrictions caused by the pandemic, it has been hard to travel, therefore making it tricky to hold live shows overseas and sell merchandise as you have to pay for exportation.

The avenues of revenue for local acts are simple on the other hand; album sales, merchandise and live streams of which you require a good target audience in order to make money.

You also have to bring something new to the table with your sound as there is already a lot of competition abroad. 

Most local musicians have full time jobs that they use to feed their music career.

What is that one thing that has contributed to your growth as a producer?

It’s taken me around 1,500 days of surviving on commercial projects, which has been an amazing and a new experience for me.

Through partnerships with Harvey Herr of Realm of Mist Studios and Nick Wathi of Andromeda Music who continue to inspire me, I have gotten to understand the different ways people approach music and I’ve borrowed many ideas. It’s an endless pool of knowledge.

What are the common stigmas towards rock musicians?

Most people associate rock artistes to be satanic, degenerates, and drug-addicts which is not always true but for other groups can be accurate.

There are lots of what you may call Mindful-Metal Heads in Kenya who don’t necessarily fit into these labels.

On the other hand, I have met others who fit well into them and I have no desire to sugar coat it as I have experienced the full spectrum of these personalities first hand!

In many instances the musicians who develop negative traits can wreck the momentum of their projects, bands and careers so I prefer to work with the larger chunk of them who are down to earth and compassionate. 

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