IN THE BEGINNING | AN INTERVIEW WITH KENYAN ARTIST NAMELESS |


They say, a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. The same applies for Nameless and his musical career. In this interview with Mahaslaz, he narrates how he got started into music.

His journey began, while he was still an architectural student, when he and his friends, who just had a casual love for music, decided to gather funds together and buy studio time where they went ahead to record their first song. It was during that process of creating and recording that Nameless knew that music, was what he wanted to do. The feeling and satisfaction that he got from that process could not be matched by anything else, and so, his musical journey started. The process of moving from architecture, a field that is assured of a good, stable, well paying career, to a career in music, a career that is full of uncertainty does not make sense. Especially since it was at a time when Kenyan music was in its infancy. As you can imagine, one would be worried about what their parents would think of the decision.

How did Nameless’ parents react to his decision to enter into music?

Part of the reason why Nameless got deep into music, was not only for the love of entertaining, but also it helped him raise fees for his architecture school. His parents, were okay with his playing of music, mainly because at first they thought it was mainly as a hobby. With time they even appreciated the decision since it really helped pay for his school. Nameless’ parents were retired, and sometimes it meant that Nameless had to borrow funds from his siblings for his school.

Why was Nameless afraid of his lecturers getting to know of his choice into music?

With Architecture being more subjective, more of perception, he was afraid that the lecturers would not approve of his move, and even lead to him failing on some courses, based on the fact that he was into music. He was afraid, the perception of him being an entertainer, a career that was not seen as serious at the time, that would lead to the lecturers being hard on him.

So in order to avoid the lecturers knowing about his music, he would perform with a mask, more like Zoro, a big hat, and a huge jacket. He worked real hard to be as anonymous as possible. The Kenyan media however insisted with time to know who he was, without the mask. So word got out to the campus that their fellow student was also an musician whose show they had seen on many occasions. He was however pleasantly surprised to learn that his lecturers were actually very supportive of his choice. With architecture and music all being about creativity, the two would compliment each other. They all work towards improving your creativity, and if he got tired with one, he would use the other to get his mind off it, while still works on his strengths, the creative process.

Nameless recalled the many times that he went to shows in a matatu, and since nobody knew him, he would be in a matatu with fans talking about going to a show in which there is a guy called Nameless and not one would know it was him. Or maybe even in the bathrooms after his show, people would be talking about him not knowing he was there amongst them.

Nameless’ challenges while trying to get into the music business?

Due to the fact that Kenyan music was still in its infancy, nobody gave it much chance to succeed. At the time, it was even very difficult to Nameless to be booked in for gigs, and what he had to to was, wherever there was a show, they went to the promoters there and begged for a spot. Most promoters just looked at them and wondered who they were and why would they think they should be on stage. He did many shows where he did not get paid for like a period of two years. It was hard for him to get exposure since not Kenyan radio stations rarely played any local music.

Nameless’ big break

His big break came when he won a free style rap competition on radio, in which the winner was to get a recording deal with top notch producer, Ted Josiah. At the time, Nameless used to go to campus during the day, and at night would work at a bank. While at the bank, working and listening to the radio station, he heard the competition being announced. He sneaked from this work area to another room that was free, and he went on to do his freestyle. Before he was allowed to perform, they asked him, what his name was. He did not want to use his official names, because at the time he knew his boss must be listening to radio, and at that time, he came up with NAMELESS, and just like that, Nameless was born. He went on to win the competition and recorded his first hit song with Ted Josiah, the song, ‘megarider’ and the rest as they say, is history.

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