One-on-one with China-based Kenyan drummer king Moseh Drummist
Moses Ochieng aka Moseh Drummist is a Kenyan musician, expert percussionist and drummer based in Guangzhou, China. He chats with Jackson Onyango about his musical journey.
How did your music journey start?
It began when I joined Haba Na Haba performance group in 2004, but I began exploring performing arts as a traditional dancer and an acrobat as part of Durbbeluck project, funded by a Holland institution under Sarakasi Trust. I later joined a junior Drama club as a drummer, actor and dancer.
When did drumming become a part of your resume?
Drumming was an avenue for me to keep myself away from bad habits that were around me in Mathare slums.
I became more attracted to drumming as we used it as a way of mobilising people before our ‘edutaining’ performances around Nairobi with Sarakasi.
I just loved drumming since I was young and I am now 26-years-old and going strong.
Who or what were your influences growing up?
Born of a single parented, my childhood wasn’t a soft one, especially when left with young siblings to take care of and mentor.
I had a lot of figures that supported me along the journey. The support came from, among others, the Nairobi Rotary Club, Mathare Youth Sports Association and Hope World Wide.
When did music become a profession?
That happened while I was still in high school. Mostly, I had to provide basic needs for myself, so I began earning with my talent from my high school days until today.
It became more apparent when I was awarded for the best instrumentalist during the drama festivals as a student at Eastleigh High School.
Any specific event that is significant to you getting into music?
I attended Sawa Sawa Fest-ival in 2008 in Nairobi, and watched Mahotela Queens, the late Hugh Masekela, late Ayub Ogada, Baba Maal, Harry Kimani and Eric Wainaina, among many more great souls performing live.
I even got a chance to sneak into the backstage, and I knew exactly this was the life I wanted for myself. I have been motivated since and I now often find myself out of Africa playing music.
What are some of your most memorable moments in music?
When I got an opportunity to share a stage with South African producer DJ Black Coffee when he first came to Kenya under Electrafique in July 2014.
Others are Culoe de Song for Kenya Nights, Benny T and Mos Def, all in Kenya, and Gerald Toto in France. Humble brag, I think I have done more than 50,000 shows.
Do you perform any rituals before going on stage?
I have no rituals, but I only manifest thoughts that I should resonate out while I perform. However, I do pray to God before my shows.
What’s the most challenging part about your occupation?
It has to be getting financial empowerment because just exposing out yourself puts you at risk of people expecting your life to be a certain one.
Not many people can understand that creatives face different challenges just like everyone else.
Is there a difference being in China as opposed to be in Kenya?
Nothing much. Just sharing love and spreading positive vibes over here while learning. What I can say is that it’s inspiring.
Any future plans you could share?
I am planning to marry and make a family, because that is what is important; family.
I’m also in the process of setting up my recording label and just make people dance and enjoy life.
I also plan to start a movement to uplift children in the rural areas, so that they can feel not left out of this fast advancing world.