Regional media reports had indicated that all was not well with The Tusker Project Fame winner, Alpha Rwirangira. Following these reports, The New Times’ Fred Oluoch-Ojiwah sought an exclusive interview with Alpha for the purposes of hearing his side of the story and the highs and lows of being a regional star with great expectations from local fans.
What do you have to say about regional media that writes that you simply appeared on TV and then disappeared like an eclipse of the sun.
Personally, I must first say that I appreciate the work of the media. To answer your question I can only say that according to them, before disappearing I had appeared. And, that before appearing I had not appeared before.
That means that for those who do not know me cannot be in position to know what goes on around my life. I work day and night.
My intention is not just to rush, because I know that hurry hurry has no blessings. So, I would rather take my time than rush. I want to produce something very good. I want to produce something that will withstand the test of time.
So that is how you operate?
Yes. I must say that even before Project Fame I had the talent. But I took my sweet time. I just did not rush. It is a God given thing.
Within production of music I would rather produce various singles rather than do an entire album which, if rushed, would have high chances of being found to be wanting. I do not want to do that kind of thing. I do not want to disappoint my fans. At this juncture I would rather give my fans small doses of my work.
So do we say that there is hope and opportunity in the horizon?
Those who wrote what they wrote have the right to. It is a free world. However I will work according to my own plans. It is plain and simple.
Just because somebody has said that Alpha needs to do this or that does not necessarily mean that I must bend my plans to accommodate those opinions. Personally I want to prove my self to my fans.
That is more important. If I managed to convince very many people drawn from five countries of the EAC that I had what it takes-that is proof enough that I have the talent. Coming to your questions and in close relation to what I have said-Alpha is full of hope for the future.
So what happened to the recording contract?
All musicians are bound to find ways and means to secure a recording contract. However much as I had secured a contract as part of the Project Fame it also calls upon somebody who is rightful thinking to take a close look at the terms of the contract rather than merely signing along the dotted lines.
It is very important to reflect on what has been placed on the table. Again I repeat that in my world hurry hurry has no blessings. Alpha will take his sweet time on the recording contract. We are still negotiating with them. We have not agreed to go to the studio.
But the other Project Fame artist Ngangalito has already recorded his song?
Please do not compare Alpha with any other another artist. Everybody has his own way of doing things within the showbiz industry. Basically my way of doing things naturally is totally different from my friend Ngangalito.
If anything we differ in as far as our music styles and compositions are concerned. So approaches will naturally be different.
If Ngangalito’s album has come out all the blessings to him as Alpha is working hard to have his out soon. I will conclude that topic by saying that I don’t look over my shoulders in order to do anything. Having said that I promise my fans that something is due to come out very soon.
Quite easily you could rule Rwandan music going by the fame given to you by Tusker Project Fame. So why are you not grabbing this golden opportunity? There is that aspect of you being Rwandan rather than just focussing on the bigger picture of the EAC.
Much as the whole of the entire EAC played a bigger role in voting me Rwanda more than others propelled my candidature. Coming to your question I must say that it is a case of juggling various choices.
There is the larger audience that looks up to me while there is also the home audience the Rwandan fans also looking up to me. I had to take my time for the purposes of trying to satisfy all these different audiences. It is not an easy decision in which one can rush.
Definitely a Rwandan track must be part of the album that I am working on. What I need to tell my local fans is that I am on the job sweating and working overtime to get them something good. I can only appeal for patience from my Rwandan fans.
Tell us about some of the reported set backs that had you disappointed at some point much as that is how showbiz operates.
First when you are in the Academy you are taken care of. When you come out you are alone in the industry. So the truth is that situations change drastically when you get out. Once you win there is so much attention and pressure.
So one has to wait for the dust to settle before getting down to work. Along the way things happen. However what I must point out is that the Academy taught us to be ready for such encounters. So personally I appreciate criticism as it builds me.
How is your manager inclined to look at the Rwandan perspective of things within showbiz?
The challenge is how to work with like minded folks to take local music beyond just being an art. We want to see local music selling and in the process being able to earn musicians a good living.
Music must also be used in an appropriate manner. We need to mentor the youth. So the message must be right. We need to brand our image as a country for instance.
There is so much that can be done. There is a challenge that surrounds a general lack of understanding that music can be taken as a career that is rewarding.
The business aspect of the art of music has been ignored. Once that is done artists would be in a position to give back to society.
How would you expect to stage shows when you have no hits of your own?
On performance we are on schedule. A typical example is that we had a show last Friday which was a total sell out. We had two shows in Nairobi last Saturday and Sunday. We have been to Tanzania. So I must say that Alpha is doing his thing.
Don’t you think that doing collaboration projects with local artists is one way of boosting the fortunes of local music the way you have done it with AY the Tanzanian artist?
Absolutely. That is in the pipeline. God willing my album should be out by mid this year. In our project it will be complementing the good things Rwanda has.
We know we have good leadership, we know about our rich culture. On that we will add our music that should cut across the African society.
So we want to sell Rwandan music abroad. Back to that question of collaborating with local artist I must point out that it is definitely part of my game plan.
A good indicator is that we have been on stage with some of them. So fans should expect something. However it is a two way traffic-the local musicians ought to reciprocate the feeling. Much as I am thinking about it they should also be thinking about it.
What have you learnt from that experience of coming out of the Academy and going through what you have gone through?
I have learnt a lot. Quite some stuff I have learnt. I have since learnt that there are those you love you while others will hate you much as they pretend to love you.
I have learnt that there are those who are patient like some of my fans while I have learnt that some of my fans cannot wait for me to produce something. Along the way I have learnt to take in criticism.
I have learnt that positive criticism can make one a better person. Another thing is that one has to be on the alert twenty four seven. That is how showbiz industry operates. It is not a white collar job. It requires creativity.
You have to be on the move to stay relevant. I have also learnt to be humble. I have also learnt how to fit in with different situations. All these things have shaped me in one way or another.
Lastly, what are your plans for your Rwandan fans who gave you a hero’s welcome?
First of all I must thank them for the support. I owe my achievement to them. I have a lot coming up for my fans.
I am working overtime to ensure that the support that I was given does not go down the drain. Rwandans should expect something good soon.
There are lots of plans. I will conclude by saying that east or west home is best. I am Rwandan. So I will see to it that I give Rwandans something hot very soon.