101: I can’t date a fellow celebrity, I need the opposite of me – Shaka Mao
Written by Derrick Asaba on June 29, 2021
Making song covers is believably a strategic corridor that most of the musicians have hoofed it to their stardom. It gives them visibility as wide as a church door and subsequent warm reception. This is the same pathway singer Shaka Mao (stage name) alias Mao Patrick Shaka took and presently has his eyes steadily onto the stairs to the triumph of his music career. Mao is also a Communications graduate of Kampala International University, commercial model, songwriter and basketball player. Accompanying song covers, Mao released a mini six-track album dubbed ‘Rising the EP’ and has since released more singles. DERRICK ASABA had an online chat with him and on, he writes.
What was the inspiration behind your latest song, ‘Love Me’?
‘Love me’ is a song basically begging for someone’s love. It speaks of a situation where you like this person but play hard to get them, have moments with them, they are undecided and a bit complicated. But you want them to love you. It is a situation I was in and talked to Gael Will about it, who came up with the lyrics after I had shared the story with him.
Releasing music at a time when performances are suspended, do you find this wise? How are you earning from it?
It’s partly wise and also adverse in a way. Positively, people have a lot of time since we are in the lockdown, to listen more to the latest and old projects if they missed out. The bad side is that the song will not return so much since there is no way to perform it anywhere to get money. The fact that most people in Uganda have not really embraced the digital stores to pay for art, we don’t profit well. Much of the money is in performances.
So, how deep has this situation hit you?
It has messed me up in a way that I feel like without the lockdown, my music would have great visibility because then, I would be performing in so many places and equally growing. But everything is shut down.
How have you managed to survive?
One has to find a way to survive, that you know. I am thankful for the amazing people in my life, family, friends and family that look out for me.
Have you ever participated in any singing competitions?
I have never. But, I would love to, only the big ones though. Because most of the competitions aim at finding stars and I am one already. I would go for the ones that propel me to greater heights.
You did a number of covers at the start of your career, what is your opinion about covers?
(He made a cover of ‘Mataala’ by Winnie Nwagi, ‘Too good at good byes’ by Sam Smith, ‘Masuuka’ by Lydia Jazmine, ‘Kibun’omu’ by Kenneth Mugabi, ‘Mummy’ by A Pass among others)
Covers are a great tool for visibility if they are nicely done. You only need the basics; vocals and a bit of production. Make simple videos for what you have covered so that people can see who you are. But if one spends a lot of time on covers, one gets comfortable with them and people start knowing them for that which somewhat kills one’s plans to break out as a serious artist. They are amazing: even big artists cover people’s songs. They are a way of finding individuality, doing someone’s song differently. It gives the song different sides so that one who never liked it could enjoy it because someone else covered it. I used to get such comments a lot.
You shared the stage with big names at Club Beatz, how was the experience a bit deeper?
(Laughs) Well, not all the time do we have to look at the mega side but look at the bigger picture. Working with professionals; Fenon records and Club itself was mind blowing and also a great learning experience. I saw how people do things so differently and perfectly which makes you level up instantly. And I love the push ― every small detail is paid serious attention. And when you share a huge stage with big names, you also know who you are. It gives you motivation to work so hard. Lilian Mbabazi told me, “work hard, you will get there”. I felt it. At the moment, I knew that I had the entire world’s potential to make it even bigger and better.
That was a good experience. Was this the last time you performed at a big stage?
Yes it was. Sadly, lockdown on the Entertainment industry has not allowed me to venture onto greater things.
If I were to hire you for a performance and granted you three promises to perform there at, what would they be?
Great visibility, Payment and working with a great team (meet a new artist or in line with what I do).
Have you ever made a mistake during a performance? What did you do to overcome this?
Artists always make mistakes but the audience never gets to realise such. They improvise. That is what I too, always do ― improvise so well and so fast. I have made so many mistakes, flatted at so many points but I get over it. I learn. And when you get experience and confidence, you lessen the mistakes.
I would find a way even before performing to get my audience engaged. People that are looking forward to listening to an artist have a lot to give ― time and attention. As an artist, I can use that to my advantage. Pause, call someone out, stop with the whole music and everything, sing acapella; be an entertaining performer because performers get out of their way ― jump, go crazy to make sure everyone’s attention is on me.
Every musician wants to get better every other sunrise. What do you do to achieve this?
That’s so true. I want to get better every day. First, I need a strong and comfortable body so I always look at fitness. I do a lot of research on how to sing better and I watch a lot of live performances from people that have been where I want to go. I listen twice to everything I am told as per what I want and also ask for advice a lot although most times I go with what my mind tells me. But I have so much room for learning. And I practice a lot. There is no other way to get better but to work on oneself hard.
What strengths do you have that you believe make you a great musician?
I am a great vocalist.
What is the weirdest thing you’ve ever done to promote your music?
(Laughs) One of them is singing an acapella to everyone that has asked from me with regards to my music. It’s not weird but I think it’s exhausting. And they promise to pay attention to the song, listen more, say I have a beautiful voice and all that. It’s exhausting: Imagine having to sing to someone or a group of people, fifty or a hundred a day and what can you do? And, I have walked randomly to someone, told them about my music trying to make them listen to what I have.
What do you most enjoy about being a musician?
It’s the fact that I can do something which so many people can do as well but in my own way and have people enjoying it. I enjoy someone telling me that they relate with my songs. Also, getting an edge over so many people while in a place. For example sometimes I walk into a place and everybody is staring at me, murmuring and knowing that they are talking about me. Even when you are given first priority or even when I am in a queue to get served and I am treated better, (laughing) I enjoy that.
You have collaborated with some musicians so far. Which musician would you like to collaborate with, next?
I have collaborated with Swagina music on a couple of projects, Kezron and Nash Musik (Congolese). I however wish to work with artists like Geosteady, Azawi, Victor Ruz, Irene Ntale, Maurice Kirya, Irene Namubiru and Winnie Nwagi.
If you can have your fans remember one thing about you, what would it be?
The good energy I put up. I am simply one whose vibes one cannot forget.
Is there a particular kind of music that never moves you emotionally? Which is this?
The way I interpret music is so different; I could listen to a song that someone finds boring and I am interested in finding out how this person chooses the words, how they play about with them, the rhythm, voice or could be just an instrument playing a certain kind of way that makes me look twice and nod my head. I am not inclined to a style of music but I listen to a range. In that way, I learn a lot. But I am more of a soulful person so, music filled with emotions with not so much beats and rock music works for me a lot.
What is the best piece of advice another musician ever gave you?
Steve Jean told me to work hard and sing every song two keys higher every time I practice. He also said I should always pay attention to the music I play and the people I sing with and to communicate while in rehearsals or on stage.
If you could change one thing in the music industry, what would it be?
It would be the way how music is distributed and earned from. UPRS and other bodies are available but something is lacking. That’s one of the issues musicians are struggling with. Even when their music is put on social sites, someone else instead benefits from it. I would like to change that. Either an artist gets money directly or indirectly. Like Mobile Money ― go pay for a song and I receive 2K here. Something like that.
You once signed a contract with BeautyKyng Investments. What happened? Are you still with it? Do you still land such deals?
I honestly don’t know if the company slowed down its work. But I enjoyed the time there and also got great gigs like the Ice cream and Cake festival. I am open to working with anyone at the moment because juicy endorsements are everything. COVID-19 has really caused more harm than good but the deals will come through as the music grows too.
What accomplishments do you see yourself achieving in the next five to ten years?
I am a Communications graduate so, in a few years’ time I see myself levelled up with my Public Relations career and marketing. This is the other goal aside from music. It is going to take some time but I will get there. I also see myself setting my life up slowly but surely and getting management to elevate my career. Plus, getting such great airplay in my own country and across the world.
How would you describe your perfect day?
I think all days are perfect even with different hardships because life is a rollercoaster, a day can go from good to bad quickly. But a nice day to me is one, when I finish all that on my day to do list successfully.
What don’t you compromise on, in your life?
Double standard situations and people: you are either for me or not. That I cannot compromise on because it costs you in the end.
What was the last gift you gave someone?
It has been hard to meet people lately so the gifts have been via Mobile Money. Just for small soda.
What is your most valued possession at the time?
(Laughs) It’s life because I think all is vanity at the end. Life is wealth. At the moment, people are dying like crazy but I am alive.
If you could date another celebrity, who would it be and why?
Hmmm I haven’t seen anyone I resonate with, maybe in my circles. But, most of the celebrities out here are so old. I am not too young either, but I am young. Maybe I would wait a bit and see what the future holds for me in that line, unless you’re telling me to go for these old women in the industry. No no. On the other hand, I wouldn’t want to date a fellow celebrity. I would want to date somebody who doesn’t even care about what I do (my work) because then, I can learn a lot from them. Celebrities know each other’s world. Today you’re here tomorrow you’re there, it gets a bit hard to coordinate the relationship compared to the other. Somebody who is the total opposite of me is the one I would want to date.
Are you in a relationship?
I am currently not seeing anyone. It’s even Lockdown so it would be hard to see someone (laughing out loud).
What traits then, would you look out for in the ideal lady?
Calmness, patience, confidence and having the fear of God.