Alain Ndagijimana and Etienne Baruma are students; Alain is studying Finance at Kigali Independent University, while Etienne is studying piano at the International Youth Fellowship in Kimironko. Moses Opobo caught up with the two and found out that they are upcoming musicians who go by the stage name, Green Light.
You look alike. Are you brothers?
Alain: No; we are not. We are just friend but because of music we are now brothers.
How did you know each other?
Alain: Our friendship started when we were neighbours in Kamembe in Rusizi District, Western Province. We met at Gihundwe High School, in Rusizi. We used to mime songs of other singers in school. In 2013 we recorded our first song called Uzabaho (You will live on). We co-wrote the song, just like all the other songs.
What are the other songs?
Etienne: Bungutse Iki, Tubyamagane, Ababyeyi, and Intsinzi. We have shared this music dream together while still students in Rusizi.
Alain: I knew Etienne was a good dancer and he also had a good voice.
How was your first recording experience?
Etienne: In 2013, we came to Kigali (Bridge Records), and recorded our first song - Uzabaho. Being beginners, we would get late night appointments at the studio. I remember at one time we had to go to studio at 10:00pm, and another time we went to record at 2:00 pm, which was a big problem because we came from far. Still, we managed to record three songs from Bridge Records, which we took to Rusizi.
Going with these songs to our village was like a miracle, because before that, people had only been seeing us miming songs of other musicians. This was something different, and we got a lot of support from fans and well-wishers. It is at this point that we decided to do music seriously.
The first concert:
Etienne: It was at Bagore, in Rusizi District. We walked on foot to the concert venue, which was many kilometers away. The concert was well-attended and we performed to the best of our ability. However at the end of the concert the promoter refused to pay us, only giving us Rwf500 to share between the two of us which was not even enough for our transport. In the end we were forced to beg for a lift at the back of a pick-up truck.
Shortly after, we got another deal with Rwanda Aid, a British NGO that deals with street children. We had a song which carried a positive message for the youth and when we performed it at one of their events, they liked it and asked if it is our original song.
One day, we got a deal from WDA (Work Force Development Authority) to remix the song. We redid the song and sent samples for approval and they were approved.
When it was about one week to sign the deal, it was cancelled and given to Kina Music. The reason given is that we were upcoming artistes and that we came from far (Rusizi). It was so frustrating for both I and Alain because we were expecting some millions from that deal. But we did not give up.
We recorded a new song, Bungutse Iki and it was a hit. It is this song which brought us back on track to do serious music.
Alain: To continue building our music career until we become big stars. We need promotion because we are still beginners. We also need more collabos with big musicians.
Alain: It’s hard for us to get money to do music because we’re still students. Sometimes we also face pressure from our families to concentrate on studies first.