The year was 2013, Tizzo, Olivis, real names, Thierry Mugiraneza, Olivier Mugabo, respectively and Dereck Sano walked into studio to record their collabo ‘Uri Mwiza’.
Little did they know that this would be the beginning of their group ‘Active’. The song became a hit that it followed requests from their fans to keep together as a group.
They listened to their fans and stormed the music scene with their second song, ‘Udukoryotwinshi’ which featured rapper Danny Nanone and it equally received massive airplay.
Their group name Active represents their vision and ability to break boundaries in the music scene.
“We were young but passionate about music when we started out.When we agreed to work together we had a number of names to choose from but we chose Active because we are young men with a lot of energy and we were determined to break through the music industry with a different music style,” Olivis says.
The trio - Derek, Tizzo and Olivis – were both pursuing solo careers before they formed Active Boys. Olivis and Tizzo, especially kick started their careers as dancers with Bad Boys and backup dancers for several artistes like Miss Jojo, Meddy and Tom Close.
Their success is largely, but not limited, to their ability to entertain: they can all sing and dance which has been their strength, although they are often criticized by people who say they dance more than they sing.
The boy group first participated in the Primus Guma Guma Superstar (PGGSS) competition in 2014, and won best new artiste at the Salax awards the same year shortly before they clocked a year in the music industry as a set. Their participation was a motivation that asserted impact on local music scene, a promise of better days ahead.
“The experience on stage we got from Bad boys was a big contributor and prepared us for our new music journey. We looked up to many artistes who began as dancers such as Neyo and Usher and went on to build their career,” explains Olivis.
Active Boys therefore still owes much of its success to PGGSS. The competition gave them a platform to attract and win crowds onto their side. The results have made them one of the boy groups in Rwanda that managed to hook a sizeable number of fans in the shortest time.
The talented boys have since become a hit with their exciting dance routines and released over 15 songs, of which some have become hits like Mwiza, Usanza, and Ayaiya among others.
They have also collaborated with Tanzania’s Mwana fa in their song Go mama, and Amafiyeri with Barnaba Classic and WagaWaga with Uganda’s Vampino.
This year for them is going to be bigger with the group planning to cross borders to other countries. Their dream is to become a household name.
Sano further attributes their success to their music producers who shaped their career.
“We credit two important people Bernand Bagyenzi of Incredible Records where we were first signed to and Jean Marie of New Level record label which we joined after the contract with Incredible Records ended,” he says.
But although the decision to form a musical trio was a good career move, they reveal that the road for them hasn’t always been a smooth one.
They have had some challenges but taking the plunge and trusting in their abilities and facing their challenges head on has taught them lessons and they see the challenges as stepping-stones on their way to success in the music industry.
The biggest challenge for them just like any other group is connecting the differences of the three creative artistes but have always found a way to come up with what’s good for all of them.
Following the Muhanga-based school’s nationwide talent search, their lead vocalist Derek was recently among 52 students granted a scholarship to pursue music at Nyundo School of Music and Arts. He is the first such musician to join the institution.
This has fueled speculation that the group could be heading for a split if their lead vocalist is away at school.
The group’s song writer, Tizzo admits to having had the same fears about the group falling apart but after a group meeting, they are positive that his studies are for the benefit of the group.
He assures their fans that the group has no plans of leaving the country because they have business interests and ongoing projects in Rwanda.
We thought that his studies might consume up the time when we need him but he reaffirmed that he will be available when we need him. Knowledge is power and so we are happy and willing to support him, he says.
“I’m studying music because I want to add something to what I have right now and I believe that it will benefit the group as well because we are a family. Formal training is very important if you want to give people quality music.
As proof that we are not even thinking of separating we released our song ‘Ubaruta’ last week and we have a lot in stock,” Dereck says.
Olivis adds: “We have known each other for a long time and even participated in the same dance group for a long time so I don’t see us parting ways anytime soon.”
I ask if they have had any regrets ever since they became one.
Three heads are better than one and that’s where we derive our strength. We have a bright future ahead of us,” says Olivis, the group’s lead dancer.
One of the reasons that also propelled them to the limelight was Olvis and Derreck dating former Miss Rwanda contestant Vanessa Uwase and former Miss University of Rwanda Teta Sandra respectively.
When asked what caused the breakdown of their relationships to Vanessa and Teta, both Derreck and Olvis refused to talk about it.