My whole goal as a music producer and singer songwriter is to create music that will last from generation to generation. I write hits and nothing else. When you work with me you can be sure to expect the best. You get memorable lyrics, resounding beats and infectious melodies. I believe that these are the bone of every hit song
I am singer songwriter based here in Nairobi, Kenya. I have a great ear for melody and harmonies and my work is characterized by memorable, catchy and infectious melodic motifs that remain resounding in your brain. I am accomplished in writing many styles of music like Neo SOUl, AfroFusion, Black Gospel, Pop, Rhumba, Zouk amongst many others.
My ability to play a wide array of instruments has helped me horn my skills further. When i write my music, i can envision what everything and everyone will be playing. As such, I am also able to double up as an arranger, a music director and voice arranger.
After studying music in Campus and practicing for a long time, i have also branched out as a Music Producer and have set up my own record label ALNA Music. Here, we ensure that above all else we write and produce music that will transcend the barriers of time and appeal to people of all age and all walks of life.
Would love to hear from you. Click the contact button above to get in touch.
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Interview with Varkeize Motema
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: The just ended Live Recording with the band Sounds fo Worship here in Kenya. This project threw me in the deep. I was in charge of running point with everything about the preparation for this concert. Starting in March we went to studio to do the audio recordings. my task then was to get eh song demos, arrange them, work on them, come up with intros, outs, interlude and dong structures. then he we started meeting with the band, my work was to rehearse the band, rehearse the vocalists, come up with harmonies, organise joint rehearsals and when they were ready, hit studio. We managed to record nine songs, shoot four music videos, rehearse for a fifteen track live recording that was recorded not he 31st of Ocotber and went live not he 11th of December. This project gave me a lot of experience in project management and human resource management. I am also involved in the post production process of the live recording. I am currently working on the overs=dubs for the audio and mixing and mastering of the same fo rate sa=ongs that start going up in january. I was also tasked with coming up with the intro of the concert. I wrote a piece for the project. The project was dubbed To One Audience and I wrote a song around that. It started off with a trumpet solo and an expressive dancer and later morphed to this big sound with all the vocalists and band members coming. it becomes a powerful start of the concert. I also co wrote other sections of the songs, and wrote three songs among the thirteen that went up into the project during the live recording.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I am working on a Christmas Project set to go live tomorrow evening. I am also working on a production for 2021. Studio recording for an album, an Easter Production that i am co writing, music directing and arranging an co producing, a live recording later on in November next year. I am also working on my project with my band Beyond Us. I will also be working as a music consultant for a band that is starting a nine track recording project starting January. I am directing and consulting for an artist that wants a studio live recording one her songs in June next year.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: I would prefer analog any day any time. It gives me the control to play with my sound to the way that best suites my ear. Some times processed sound signals are limiting in the scope of how much more you can edit them, since they have been processed.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: I will deliver on time. I will give my all into the project. I will not be shy to speak my opinions and recommendations should i feel strongly in my heart that they would be for the better, but would also be respectful enough to push on should the opinions be rejected. I will give you the best possible audio.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: It allows me an opportunity to meet and work with so many people. I love meeting people and learning people, hearing their stories. It allows me an opportunity to be blessing to someone else's life. I don't believe that my interactions with my clients end just when the project is over. I have forged very meaningful and strategic relationships with some of my past clients. I believe in sharpening each other. Working with people has also taught me a lot of newer insights as regards my music and my musical philosophies. Some have challenged my mind and some have taught me new things, faster ways of doing the same thing or better ways of doing the same things.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: How do I sound? Do i sound good enough? Hahahaha. This is one of the most commonest questions i get. I more often than not tell them, You sound just like you. And they laugh it off. But in my hearts, i am happy because i liberate them from the never ending prison of wanting to be and sound like someone else.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: That it is easy. People here assume that music is easy and that it does not have to be expensive. This has been one of the hugest struggles i have ever had to deal with when dealing with some of my clients. Some never know why you quote such high prices.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: Tell me about yourself What is your musical story why are you doing this project? What is the most important thing in this song that you would not like to loose through the ideation and creations tases of the song? What is your budget?
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Hurry and reach out to me. You will not regret it. For all your musical needs, however varied they may be, I am your guy. I promise to offer nothing but the best and to deliver your work within the agreed upon deadlines.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: My laptop and sound card My headphones My Midi controller My phone charger A big bottle of water
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I started doing music when i was very young, almost thirty years ago. I started out as a musician in church. I would be playing either the lead, bass, acoustic or piano depending now ho would not be there on that sunday. I later joined High school where i picked up music seriously. Here i was the band leader for the school marching band and the music room prefect for three out of my four years of high school. I later joined university to undertake a degree in education (Music and English) I dropped it later on to pursue a different degree in Music Performance which is where my heart was. When i joined campus first as an education student, i got an opportunity to travel for a six month tour. the project had me make an album with the team, write, and produce the songs that we would then be selling. i also wrote a music l on the story of the prodigal son which we would be acting. After that i was out on different occasions to different countries playing for different bands and artists. I then started being a session musician. I would walk into a studio, play my guitar, bass, piano, lead, or saxophone lines and walk out. Then it morphed into walking into sessions as an arranger. Come with your song, and i would help you fix it up and give it a functional structure that best represents the life form of the song that you re doing. i then was fortunate enough to be an assistant producer and recording engineer for a producer and during that time i learnt the hoops of this production thing. I set up two bands at different times that i was the leader and music director and the successes of these tow bands have gotten me jobs as a music director in many and varied projects both within and without Kenya I now set up my own studio and i am currently working to establish it and grow it as a brand amongst the many other pre existing studios in the country right now.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Afro World. I love to call it that. I have a way of fusing very many different elements of very many different styles of music in alloy productions. I love to bring in an African touch to most of everything i do. It is the only way to preserve and broadcast my heritage.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: Kirk Franklin from the States. He is the embodiment of my ultimate music journey goals. How he write, how he sings, how he performs, how he speaks about his music, how he connects with the world, how unique his style and sound is, how crisp his productions are, his harmonies, how committed he is to her craft. It is just a lot of things about him, both as a person and as a musician that intrigue me. I know that i would learn a whole lot just working with him and it would be a priceless moment for me.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Be true to yourself. Know your sound and stick to it. I have quite a number of musicians who are lost to themselves. They are busy trying to be like someone else. I believe that having models is an important part in your growth as a musician. But when that becomes the only thin that informs your satisfaction about your music then you will forever fall short. Believe in your craft, be unique to who you are. Sing and share your personality with the world and do not be apologetic about being yourself. It will will be hard but when you create a niche for yourself, since it is your truest form that you have been sharing with your fans, your will not have to be like someone else. Every other day you would just have to be the best version fo yourself and that will always give you an edge.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: I work on a wide array of music. I have done hip hop, trance, trap, zouk, lingala, rhumba, reggae, neo soul, acoustic, unplugged, kapok, salsa, pop, rock, ballad, chakacha styles among many others in my musical tenure as a performer, session artist, music producer, music director, music consultant, music trainer, music arranger and music composer.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: My musical creativity and attention to detail when creating a song.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: Creativity. I have been playing music with different bands for many years. I have recorded my won music, directed numerous projects, been on tours with different bands. ll these carried and intentional musical exposures have horned my approach to music and have broadened my scope of music as regards my inputs to a song. Music Education. Having studied music since primary school all the way to the university where i took a bachelors degree in music performance, I believe this sets me up as an advantage point. I wold not be inputing into the song as a quack. Sometimes some songs need and educated approach to them as regards certain decision making during the growth stages of any song. My ability to play a wide array of instruments. This greatly helps when we are putting perspective to a song, especially as regards style. Some songs can best work as piano or guitar songs. Some songs need a much fuller sound. Some songs need changes in speed or key. Having the ability to envision what each instrument would be playing helps me give me informed decision or inputs when working on the song. My rich harmonic approach to vocal and instrumental harmonies. My ability to be creative with regards to structural analysis of the song. Coming up with an intro, interlude, outdo and structures of a song. How will the song start, how will it progress,, would it need a transpose either down or up somewhere in the middle of the song or towards the end?
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: First we would hav a discussion about project. It would be important for me to understand where you are gong with the music, who you are as an artist and what you would like to communicate through the music. That way it helps me better put myself in perspective as regards offering artistic direction towards the creative process. Then we would get the first drafts of your ideas. After that we would discuss the sound and feel of the music and every musical element attached to the songs. Then we would talk about the reference track or tracks that sound like what you are aiming for. This has everything to do with Key, Style, Tempo, Chords, Structure When this is done then maybe I would go to the lyrical content and go through it and if there would be any tweaks or suggestions then i would run them by you and we would get going once we are in agreement. Sometimes artists come to me and their lyrics need a lot of work either melodically, in text or sometimes in structure and more often than not harmonically f they have any back up parts. When this is over then we book the studio session. Lay down the demo, send it over to the client, have them come one for their session, then get the song done with session musicians, should it call for that. Then we would get into mixing and mastering phase. I would send four rough mix cuts after which then i would master the song for you and deliver your masters. This work flow is assuming you would like to write, record or produce a song. The other facets of my musical encounters are very subject to the nature of the needs the artist has for me as regards whatever project they are working on.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I use Logic, Ableton and Reason to track I have an Apollo Twin Core Sound card that i use as my sound card, and it has been dolly chained to a focusrite Scarlet 8i6 I use KRK Rokit 8th Gen for my monitoring and Yamaha NS10s for my reference speakers I have a Korg Mircrostation for running my WAV sounds and a Novation Launchkey and Komplete M32 for my MIDI inputs
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: Koko Records in South Africa Israel Haughton Kirk Franklin DBF Music in Nigeria
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: Song Writing Music Directing Session Playing Project Management Music Arrangement Music Consultancy For a majority of my client, their needs are spread across these mentioned here above. Some want al that while some just a part of the ones listed above.