At a listening session he organised for fans at the Impact Hub in Kiyovu on Tuesday, he had a little surprise for guests;
Arnaud Nganji had used the occasion to unveil his latest single –Oracle. Then he announced that this was the beginning of a solo album he is putting together.
Nganji is the founder and one third of Moucho, a jazz-rock fusion band from Bujumbura in Burundi where it was formed six years ago.
At the event, the musician announced that he was still a part of the band, which he described as family, but that he would also be pursuing a parallel solo career.
He has put together a small ensemble of instrumentalists –the Kinga Blues as his back-up band for all his solo gigs.
“This is my solo work and I wanted to let people gather in one venue and listen to it instead of releasing it on social media like most musicians do these days,” he explained.
“I wanted a real and live interaction between people so that they listen, react and comment. Oracle is a single but the beginning of an album. Instead of recording an entire album like I usually do with the band, decided to record one single at a time.”
He explained that the song had been inspired by his beliefs about what is happening in the world today.
“People are trying to create walls between people and yet we’re part of the same universe and soon we will have to realise that we’re different aspects of the same reality. We have to get to a point where all humanity realizes we’re one people.”
Nganji explained that his philosophy and approach to the music as a solo act would contrast with his efforts in the band.
“In the band we play more of jazz-rock fusion and African rythms and it’s more about the whole musical experience whereas what I’m doing for my upcoming album is my own wanderings, going up and down in thinking and meditation, then I turn these thoughts into lyrics. I’m not technically bound because it’s the ideas and lyrics that lead me to choose the kind of music that I want to play. So my solo project is more about song writing and storytelling while the music is more like a soundtrack but in Moucho Band we have to look at the whole musical experience.”
In the band, he and his mates prefer to work through spontaneous jam sessions; they meet, plug in their instruments, and start to play until such a point when they find a hook and try to build on it.
“In my solo work I start by writing the text, then this text and the emotions and ideas behind this text will give me the music and it’s music that is not overwhelming but one that breathes and allows people to listen to the lyrics. In the band most of the music we do is instrumental. In Kinga Blues everything we do is Blues, while with Moucho Band we do not have boundaries –we move from salsa, jazz, hard rock, metal …”
The Moucho Band is currently in post-production stages of a nine-track live album whose recording kicked off in 2015 but that suffered a huge setback when war broke out in Burundi.
“We’re doing it from Kigali but also working with different partners in Uganda and Kenya because we want to make a new style of music and that’s partly the reason the album took so long to complete.”