Image courtesy of Davidmutua.com
we need more exchange programmes to nurture kids talents
Isaac Mugunda is a well known figure within the circle of Kenyan instrumentalists. His skill with the guitar is unrivalled. However, as they say, Rome wasn’t built in one day. So here we are with his epic journey as told by him.
Please tell us a little bit about your background?
I come from Jericho. My dad was a pastor. I am an alumni of Ofafa Jericho both primary and secondary schools. I am the proud father of several children.
How did you begin your musical journey?
I believe I was born with the guitar considering it was my first ever instrument. It was a red guitar to be exact. Professionally, my career began back in 2001/2002 after finishing my high school. Around the same time Mathewmatix and I together with a few other church members formed a band called Yunasi. We did some recording and touring in countries such as France and Uganda before finally forming the band now known as Gravitti.
During your career what are some of your best and worst moments?
I remember we got a chance to go and perform for Wangari Maathai when she was to receive the Nobel prize. The reception was exemplary. All of us got the same treatment in terms of services, straight from accommodation downright to how were were treated.
However, there was an event we went to in Mali will never forget. The accommodation that was being offered really put me off. We were expected to live in some campus dorms that were pretty much rundown and I had to complain to get proper living facilities. I wouldn’t like to go through that again.
As an instrumentalist/ musician in Kenya, what can you say about the scene?
The instrumentalists are growing and getting better by the minute.
However, in Kenya we need more exchange programmes to nurture kids talents. We also need more opportunities and access to equipment. Acquiring equipment in the country is a hassle and it would really help a great deal if we had access to them at more affordable rates too.
Who are some of the people/ bands you’ve worked with?
I have played for Yunasi, Mercy Myra, Suzzana Owiyo, Eric Wainaina, Sauti Soul and Gravitti just to mention a few. I also play in church and I’ve played for Reuben Kigame and Sifa Voices.
What’s your current rig?
I have my guitar which is an Ibanez. I am also using Digitech effects. I also like Humbuckers guitars as they have a mellow sound.
What goes into your practice session?
My practice sessions never stop. Any time any place as long as it is possible I am constantly practising. However, I love to focus on inspirational tunes due to their harmony and progression.
To close us off please tell us 5 random facts about yourself?
- I was very bright in school despite the fact that I love speaking in sheng’ and Kiswahili.
- I dislike noisy music.
- I was a football player and my jersey number was 11.
- I am a fan of AFC and Arsenal football clubs.
What advice can you give young aspiring instrumentalists?
Don’t concentrate so much on chops. As much as they are good and hip, the real gigs are at the roots. Don’t overlook the traditional music. That’s where the security is and chance to perfect your skills are.
To connect with Isaac click on the links below: