Elani is an upcoming band that is causing quite a stir in Nairobi.
It is comprised of Muthoni Kunga, Wambui Ngugi, Bryan Chweya and Daniel Kimani (Kim).
Just before they brought the house down at Psys Westlands on Dec 15, 2010, I had a chat with them.
Moderate: What does Elani mean?
Elani: Elani means light in Giriama. We are seeking to be a light to the world through our music and also to find internal light for ourselves through our expression. Look at us as a light at the end of a dark tunnel.
Moderate: Who is Elani?
Elani: We are a band that is conscious about what is going on around us. We abhor bubble-gum music. Music for us is a platform to express, inform and entertain. We reckon that if you have nothing to say then it is best not to say it.
Moderate: How do you aim to find a balance between seriousness and fun in your music?
Elani: It is not easy but we believe it can be done. The trick is to always connect with our audience and to be open to criticism and feedback. We also believe in ourselves and in our music.
Moderate: How long has Elani been in existence?
Elani: 3 years
Moderate: What were you guys doing before Elani?
Elani: Ha! Ha! We are all very young. Before Elani we did E.M.S (Estate Management and Survey) which is a fancy way of saying we killed time at different locations. One of the locations was Alliance Française where we met, hit it off and decided to form Elani.
Moderate: When did you start singing?
Muthoni: Sang in choir. Wambui: Sang in shower. Kim: Sang in shower. Bryan: Started singing in high school and was part of the Christian Union music group (Voice in the light) at Upper Hill.
Moderate: Apart from Elani, what else do you do?
Muthoni: 3rd year Law student at University of Nairobi. Wambui: 3rd year Actuarial Science student at University of Nairobi. Bryan: 4th year Law student at University of Nairobi. Kim: ICT student at Cornerstone College.
Moderate: Do you have an album out?
Moderate: Why not?
Elani: We are aiming for longevity. For us to be relevant for a long time we have to produce music which we shall be proud to share with our grandchildren. Therefore there is a benchmark to be met. We have 5 songs that pass the benchmark and we are working on 6 more songs then the album will be ready.
Moderate: What genre is your music?
Elani: Our music is Urban Afro – fresh new funky music with an African twist. And just for the record our music is for all people. We refuse to be put in a box!
Moderate: In what languages do you sing?
Elani: Apart from English and Kiswahili, we also get songs we have written translated to other languages by our friends and we then learn the words. So far we have sung in Abagusii, Dholuo, Gikuyu and French. Our reason is to reach a diverse audience and also when we do our projected Kenya-wide tour we aim to appeal to all Kenyans.
Moderate: Who/What drives you?
Elani: Each other. Our passion for music. A desire to grow. A dream to go international.
Moderate: Who is your inspiration?
Muthoni: My mum. Wambui: The awesome Kenyan music around me. Bryan: Friends and positive folk. Kim: Friends and fellow musicians.
Moderate: How often do you rehearse?
Elani: We rehearse every Tuesday for four hours.
Moderate: Can you play instruments?
Muthoni: Good on the guitar, want to learn the keyboard. Wambui: Planning to learn the keyboard. Bryan: Good on guitar and keyboard. Kim: Good on bass guitar and keyboard.
Moderate: What are the charges for a gig?
Elani: It varies since we offer different packages. Contact us for details.
Moderate: Do you have a manager?
Elani: No. We can’t afford one plus we have heard horror stories so for now we are doing it ourselves.
Moderate: Who have you curtain raised for?
Elani: Sauti Sol. Gogo Simo. Eric Wainaina. Stan. Dela.
Moderate: Challenges of performing as a band?
Elani: It is expensive hiring instruments and catering for all personalities is hard. But there are positives: we have awesome synergy and we are always fresh.
Moderate: Challenges faced as young artistes?
Elani: Breaking through has been our biggest challenge. Guys tend to link us to other bands, tell us it has been done before and that we are trying to ape X. On the positive side, we have a lot of youthful energy and many years to grow and learn.
Moderate: You are two guys and two chics in the band. Is there any love brewing in the group?
Elani: NEVER EVER! We are brothers and sisters and our friendship is too important to mess with.
Moderate: Do you get groupie love from fans?
Elani: Ha! Ha! Ha! Hell no.
Moderate: Relationship status?
Bryan: Find me, find out. Kim: No comment. Wambui: My father will read this! Muthoni: That’s private!
Moderate: Does Elani give back to the community?
Elani: Yes. Since Dec 2009 we have being Ambassadors for Cancer Awareness Treatment and Support Initiative.
Moderate: Are you big on social media?
Elani: Social media is our biggest aid in getting crowds for our gigs and interacting with our fans. To join our Facebook group and be getting regular updates just search for Elani.
Moderate: Plans for 2011?
Elani: To learn and grow. We also aim to have three big shows as a build up to our album release at the end of the year.
Moderate: Parting shot?
Bryan: AIDS kills. Wambui: Dare to believe. Kim: Never give up. Muthoni: If you can dream it, you can do it. Whatever your dream, go for it!
GOD BLESS KENYA!