An Interview with Ugandan Singer-Songwriter, Jaq Deweyi
Inspired By Music is an interview series that was created to shine a bright spotlight on the music and entertainment industry, creative entrepreneurship, and Africa-based music professionals who work tirelessly behind the scenes. The first installment of the new weekly series, features an interview with Uganda-based singer/songwriter, and well-established media personality, Jaq Deweyi.
+ How did it all start for you as a recording artist in the music and entertainment industry?
It all started with a passion that I had. I started writing music in high school about 2005, then I did some amateur recordings and I kept trying until 2013 when I did my first professional recording ‘Oukawamunabi – Don’t Lose Hope’ at Swangz Avenue one of Kampala’s top studios after meeting my manager.
+ Is there an interesting story behind your name?
Oh yes. Jaq Deweyi. For starters for Jaq was a debate we had with my team and friends on how we would launch another Jackie after so many Jackies in the industry. So, we chose a different to way to spell Jackie and that’s how we chose ‘JAQ’. Of course for some it sounds odd, male-ish but that’s art! That’s what makes it marketable. The curiosity.
Then for Deweyi, it is a family name. My father was Deweyi Fred. We are Bamasaba who share roots in Sebeyi land. My dad’s mother Adrona was a Sabiny and that’s where he got that name from. And we it’s my stage too. I love the fact that it’s rare and it sounds really cool. Doesn’t it?!
HANDPICKED RELATED POST FOR YOU: LISTEN TO SOULHOLIC & 7OPTIONS’ “MEMORIAL DAY”
+ What does house music mean, to you?
Personally, I love good music and it doesn’t matter the genre. Of course house has amazing beats; you can do anything you want easily with the beat. I love what the South Africans have done with it. Blending it with African sounds and their traditional beats to totally create a new sound.
+ Any thoughts on the current state of local music in a digital age?
Local music is actually thriving right now in the digital era. First because it’s easy to share the music on line and get our cultures heard across the world. Secondly, just like I mentioned in the comment about House Music, Local is now the new cool because it can be blended with any sound or genre because of tech. And I believe every artist should appreciate things the way they are now, it would have been harder for us.
Just like now, [I’m] in Uganda and being interviewed in South Africa. If a reader loves me on this blog, they would definitely check out my music on YouTube, look me up on Facebook and all those social sites. That’s how a local artist easily breaks boarders in this digital era.
+ How do you think the listening public has been receiving your work?
At first, it was tricky basing on the fact that majority of the artists in Uganda at the time were from the central part of the country, doing music in Luganda the most popular language used here. Even those that weren’t from the area were singing in the same language. Then here I came with music in Lumasaba my local language too!
In a country of around 36million Ugandans, we are slightly above or less than 2 million. You can now imagine the reception. It was not easy and for a while they thought I was not Ugandan. The good news is; there’s a new wave of appreciation in Uganda at the moment.
It’s surprising but at the moment it’s pretty cool to be able to sing in a different language that’s not Luganda as long as your work is good. There’s some amazing love from the audience. Anyone can now break through. It’s actually a great time for an artist to join the industry now from the look of things.
+ Given the opportunity to rework one classic song from the 90’s, which would you choose? Why?
I would gladly jump on to Angeliq Kidjo’s Agolo! Mehn… that song was way ahead of its time and we are talking both the song and the video. It’s 2017 but when you watch it, it’s still fresh. Growing up I listened to her and she is one of the artists that inspired me to stay African in my music career. She just makes you love Africa.
HANDPICKED RELATED POST FOR YOU: AN INTERVIEW WITH SOUTH AFRICAN SINGER-SONGWRITER, DOMINIC NEILL
+ What’s the most memorable project you’ve worked on?
The Pearl Rhythm Festival 2016. It was my first biggest live stage but also a big learning platform for me. I remember when we had the pre- concert (media launch), I hadn’t rehearsed, I got nervous and I couldn’t sing yet it was a live set. That was a big lesson! I learnt that with live performances, you can’t take chances, you can’t dodge rehearsals and you must do the work. It got me ready for the big day and I can’t forget it, ever!
+ Can you list at least 3 lesser-known recording artists that you think we should be listening to? Why?
Number one is the amazing Afrie Nassanga: she plays the piano and has a great voice and great music. My second choice would be the Bantu Clan: it’s a hip hop group doing it local. Gosh you got to listen to them. And my final recommendation is Wake: he does a fusion of Hip Hop and Poetry in his local language Lugwere but it sounds really good.
+ Let’s talk social media and the interweb. How has social networking benefited your brand?
No doubt, in a big way! Social media has been my biggest platform. Being a new artiste, it was and still is hard to get power play on the traditional media but when radio and TV won’t play your song because it’s not their in house sound, the internet will give you the platform you need.
It was actually through YouTube that an executive from master peace foundation learnt about my song for hope. She was so impressed and that’s how I ended up becoming master peace Uganda club president. Master Peace is a grass roots peace movement that uses talent and music to promote peace the world over.
So as an inspirational artist, your music isn’t ranked highly like Pop music but those who need it will always find it. I am actually a bigger artiste on the internet than elsewhere.
+ What can we expect from you in the near future?
Musically speaking, I have big plans for the future. Am working on my next album titled “Rendered Redundant”, inspired by events that happened to me recently, but have actually ended up being blessings. So please do look forward it, my and I are putting in all the effort to make it worth your while when it finally comes out.
+ Any advice for aspiring recording artists?
An aspiring recording artist, especially female should be very patient. There’s nothing like overnight success in the music industry. You must be patient and hard working. Persistency is another gift you will need. Sometimes when you believe you finally got it, you may get disappointed but that doesn’t mean you are not talented or good enough. You just have to keep going.
Secondly, build an audience before you start recording. Find your niche and record what they want and stick to it. If you don’t believe in what you are doing, you will get confused trying to please everyone. Stick to your genre and they will join you along the way after understanding the values you stand for.
You can stream Jaq Deweyi‘s 2016 singles ‘Kyina’ featuring the oh-so talented Ugandan-born, South Africa-based, City Rapper Enygma and Sole Essential – produced by Sole Essential & Uganda-based Record producer Nase: