Joseph Mayanja aka.Jose Chameleon is Uganda’s biggest music export. Seven years down the road, Chameleon is still a household name not only in Uganda but also in East Africa and perhaps the whole of Africa. Last year when almost every body thought he had been thrown to the dogs, Chameleon was nominated for the Prestigious MTV Awards under the category of Best African Artist of the year and successfully had a music tour in Europe. Apparently, last weekend, Jose Chameleon put up an outstanding performance throughout the three live concerts held in Kampala to launch his Katupakase album.
The NewTimes caught up with him during the launch of his Katupakase album and below are the excerpts:
Have you changed your name from Chameleon to Heavy Weight?
Absolutely not! Heavy weight is just about the long period I have spent in the music industry. It’s now seven years since I started my music career. So many musicians have come up but very few have managed to maintain the pace in the music industry. Some release just one song and that’s it .But I have managed to cope with the pressure in the music industry and I have produced many songs.
Seven years is such a long time in the music industry, what has been your experience?
I have learnt a lot of things specifically to do with the music world. Every song I sing gives me a different experience. Hard work and perseverance are very important. Most of my songs carry the message of hard work because I want people to work hard like me. Its only hard work that has made me what I am today. I have also learnt to be patient and tolerant with people, these are two important things for one to prosper in the music world.
As a well traveled musician, is there any difference between performing before an audience in Africa and Europe?
Absolutely! In Europe the audience demands a lot of professionalism. If the concert is supposed to begin at 10 pm, at exactly 10pm they expect you to appear on stage or if the concert is to last for 3 hours, it’s strictly that .But here, if a show is to begin at 7pm, one may appear on stage at 10pm.
Of late you have been actively staging live concerts, why?
A live concert is the way to go nowadays in the music world. It’s only through live performances that one gets international recognition. As a big artist, I have to show my worth, talent and experience through staging live concerts, something that an upcoming artist may not be able to do. Several artists don’t sound as good live on stage as they do on recorded C.Ds. Besides, performing live is more interesting, it gives an artist a chance to speak to the people while a C.D takes you so fast and leaves no room for interaction with the audience which is also important for one to be a good entertainer.
It is widely believed that you have a soft spot for the Rwandese people, is it true?
Yes, I love the Rwandan people; they give me a very good audience. They appreciate my music from the heart .Its not very common to perform before an audience that really appreciates your music before you .But the Rwandese people show you how much they appreciate your music, unlike most people who just sit silently and watch you sing, the Rwandese people join you and this gives me morale. Besides we have a history, I have lived in Rwanda before.
You shunned last year’s PAM Awards why?
My personal view about the PAM Awards is that they are meant for upcoming and young artists. Partly, I wanted to give small artists a chance to also come up and the other thing is that PAM Awards want to own artists, claiming they have brought them up. I am a self made artist, I existed before the PAM Awards, and I decided to let them build artists who have come up with them.
You lost the MTV 2007 Best African Artist of the year; does this mean anything to you?
Yes, it does! I don’t feel the loss though, because only winners were nominated, and even if I lost, I lost among the best .Getting nominated already made me a winner.
At one time, you said you would never get married, but news is every where that you are getting married, what made you change your mind?
In life there are different stages of growth and maturity .I am now more mature, and I have to make more responsible decisions. I love my girlfriend and she loves me too, why shouldn’t I marry her? I want to work with her to build a family. We are going to be partners in everything including my work and I believe this will make us happy.
If you had a chance to change something about yourself, what would it be?
Lately you have been singing the late Lucky Dube’s songs in your concerts, why?
As a musician I have to pay respect to the past before I go into the future. My dream is to reach his heights. Honestly speaking Lucky Dube was very blessed, all his messages were right on time, very rich with meaning .Besides not so many musicians have reached his level. He was a true reggae artist, which we claim originated from Africa. He had a perfect tune.