Interview with Kriticos
Musical artist, full-time student, activist. Those are just a few names you can call Kriticos – multifaceted artist who carries his values through everything he does.
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- When did your musical journey start?
Well, I have always known that I want to become a musician. I started recording music at the age of 12. Of course, professionally I started to do it much later, when I was 20. I recorded a song called Gold Tooth, I didn’t want to release it yet, but my mom sent it to MNM (a big radio station here in Brussels) and they liked it and invited me on to perform. My mom has been my manager ever since. Me and my mum went on to create a label in Kenya and this is how it started. Now I still record my music there and always go back and forth between East Africa and Europe. The majority of my music catalogue was recorded in East Africa.
But music is not the only important part of my life. My dad was a diplomat with a doctorate and always wanted me to have a degree and this is how I became a full-time marketing student as well. However, now I find it very useful. The knowledge I get really helps me in what I am doing. I do not need anyone to promote myself or to manage my social medias.
I am also an activist, I do stand for my values. I co-organized the first Black Lives Matter protest here in Brussels in 2016, gave there a speech and was involved in the one that happened this year – we gathered over 10’000 people! But to be honest, I am tired of talking about it, especially this year. Look, after 4 years, here we are again protesting about the same thing and it just seems that nothing has changed. It is frustrating.
- Do you project your values in your music?
I definitely do! I find this important. We are exposed to so much propaganda every day through our social media – it is such a power nowadays. And the intent is not always good. So, when I do my music I want it to reflect my thoughts and definitely try to deliver my message to those who want to hear it. I do not make it obvious. Like in my last song “Big Daddy”. It is about owning your destiny. But, when you hear it – it’s dancehall and the video is easy going, with nice girls dancing. It is when you start to really listen and pay attention to the lyrics you get to the meaning: “Promise to yourself you can be somebody. Only one can change me is me and nobody. None but you can free your mind, Bob Marley”. So, I want my songs to empower people, to provoke thoughts, but I never want to force my message on anyone.
- How would you define your style? Was it hard to find it or did it evolve naturally?
I’ve always been interested in what people call “soul” music. It interests me because when you listen to this music you can feel and hear that it is coming from experience, it represents your beliefs, it is very deep and real. You can hear a lot of African beats, reggae, R’n’B and Hip-Hop in my music, but I love to mix different styles and go for whatever my soul feels like. I’ve also got one song “Bemba Chagga” which I cannot even place under any genre, it has so much in it, it is so spiritual and definitely takes a special place in my heart.
“I want my songs to empower people, to provoke thoughts, but I never want to force my message on anyone”.
- Has the coronavirus pandemic affected you and your work? Did you organize any live streams to stay in touch with your fans?
Funny enough, it was not that bad. Of course, it was a hard period in general and I had some shows cancelled, but I did some cool things thanks to it.
I haven’t organized any online music streaming. However, I often went live on Instagram and talked with my fans about myself, my music, discussed different topics, organized book clubs. Instead of just sitting at home and being bored I tried to use the time to the max. And it really helped me out to grow! Now, after this quarantine time, I have more followers, more people involved on my social media, more people are offering me collaborations.
I also organized a meditation session – offline. We sat down in a park and just talked about things that bothered us, took everything out. It’s been a difficult year and it is very important that there is someone there asking you “are you Ok?”
- What do you think about this new trend of online concerts? Do you think it will be gone as soon as the pandemic is over?
Well, that is a hard question to answer. Everything is changing, businesses are developing and we are exploring new opportunities right now. I didn’t know about Zoom for example until the pandemic, did you? And I do not think we will go back to normal. We’ve been talking about returning to “normal” life since the beginning of it, but it’s been more than half a year already and it does not seem to improve much. We have to adapt; this virus is going to be with us from now on and online concerts might become a part of new normal. Even though during summer, artists started to perform again it was allowed only in very small venues with a very little number of fans. And when things do start to open up again there will be concerns about safety until there is a vaccine. So, online concerts can help both artists and fans during this time.
- Did it change your goals in any way? What are your plans for the future? Do you have any current projects you are working on?
During the lockdown, I took an online class to learn how to screen write, so now for my next project, I want to do a movie I am writing a script for a philosophical love story! And I am writing the music for it. And because of that I’ve got to choose the moment when a particular song will be played to deliver what I want to deliver. You know right, how from all the movies you’ve watched, the ones with great music in the right moment you remember the most? I want mine to be that kind of a movie! I mean, maybe it’s not gonna go ahead, but you never know!
- Any last thoughts to share? 😀
Guys, live your life! Do not hold grudges with other people, you never know how much time you have left with them. Let go of your ideas of yourselves, expand the perspectives, try new things! Be mindful about all the information you consume daily. Challenge your opinions, make up your own mind about things, do not follow the propaganda. And create your own life!
We cannot agree more with what is said and thank Kriticos for an inspiring and thought-provoking interview!