THE LESSON BOOK: ACHIEVING RECOGNITION FOR KENYAN ROCK ACTS

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Right! So you know how the saying goes, how a prophet isn’t appreciated by his own people and what not. You are in a band and you’ve been ploughing out the same music for the same crowd of roughly 200 people. It doesn’t seem like the tide is going to turn any time soon. You’re probably asking what it’ll take to get your music played on a radio station other than the staple XFM and the Fuse on Capital radio.

Say you are with the big kahunas that are the PLGs of today and you’ve even managed to perform live in Germany…but still…domestically the scene gives you the stale likes on Facebook but not the musical response you expect of the 60,000 throng that claims to be faithful to the genre. Arguably the entire Kenyan music scene faces the same kind of problems. But with rock music, which is essentially an underground phenomenon, the problem seems to be more germane.

You will be surprised to note that even successful international bands have suffered from the same problems. Polish extreme metal band, Behemoth, have also been less appreciated at home compared to elsewhere in the world. Last year they released their tenth album, the Satanist which has been critically acclaimed and touted as the best metal album of 2014. It debuted at no.1 in Poland. Prior to its release, band’s frontman took certain steps away from music that eventually contributed towards an increased domestic popularity. Nergal, in an interview with Andrew Epstein, pointed out that he participated in “mainstream ventures” that gave him some extra recognition. Furthermore Nergal had been dating a popular Polish pop star at that time. And with that he managed to get his face over every popular tabloid and that in turn, strangely, brought recognition for the band!!!

Take that and apply it to the Kenyan rock scene. For bands that have managers, jockeying for such projects will be an easier task. Case in point is local hard rock band Rash. Recently they performed at a concert in Machakos town alongside mainstream acts like H_art the Band and Elani. Another good example is what Parking Lot Grass managed to do with the cover they did for popular hip-hop group P-Unit’s “Kare”. But going forward more has to be done away from music itself. Bands have to exert themselves and put their faces on mainstream media. They have to participate in gameshows, take interest in fashion and cocktail parties and once in a while stoke the fires of controversy by dating a Corazone Kwamboka or a famous politician. That way, once your name is on the mouth of babes then the media will cover each and every single thing that concerns you, including your music.

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