Alicios Theluji has released a new single titled ‘Anita’ that addresses social issues in what she says is her grand comeback to the music scene. The new single is written by Alicios and produced by one of Kenya’s well-known music producers, Robert ‘RKay’ Kamanzi, a frequent collaborator with Theluji.
Shot in the Gongo la Mboto informal settlements in Tanzania, Theluji says the song is based on a true story revolving around a home wrecker. The song, she says, was inspired by a story she heard while visiting her aunt in Paris, France.
“Anita is very dramatic. It was inspired by the story of a friend to my aunt who was facing challenges in her marriage,” Theluji told Music In Africa during an interview.
Her decision to shoot the video in Tanzania was a way of thanking ardent fans that continue to support her. Besides thanking her fans, the video, which was directed by Tanzanian video directors: Joowzey and Lucas of Joh Filmz, sees Theluji pay homage in a special way to Kenya where she has lived for most of her life.
“The Maasai attire seen in some of the scenes is a way for me to appreciate some of the Kenyan cultures. Naturally, I introduce myself as a Congolese since that is where I was born, but at heart I am Kenyan. Kenya is where I was made.”
Sang in Lingala, Theluji says her fans should expect the release of the single sang in Swahili to be released soon.
Born 29 years ago in Goma, Congo, her family fled to Kenya when she was just six years old. In 2012 she debuted on the Kenyan music scene with the hit single ‘Mpita Njia’, which featured Ugandan songstress Juliana Kanyomozi.
“When I released ‘Mpita Njia’ I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to pursue a professional music career,” Theluji remarks. However, she says the reception she got from both fans and Kanyomozi went a long way in encouraging her to continue making music.
She however did not have enough time to strengthen her foothold in the Kenyan music scene. Around the same time she enrolled at the university in Sweden for further studies. Her fledgling music career had to take a back seat as she focused on pursuing a degree in Business Management. In between her studies she got time to release a few singles, including ‘Posa ya Bolingo’, ‘Loved by You’ and ‘Pete’ among others.
“I am glad that I can fully focus on my music. For the last four years, only 20% of my time was dedicated to music. With studies behind me, I am dedicating all my time and energy to what I love the most and fans should expect to hear more of my work. I have waited for this moment for a long time.”
In her earlier years, Theluji wasn’t so sure she wanted to pursue a music career. Growing up in a society that had different views about what a woman should do, Theluji says she was always hesitant to take on a music career.
“There is something about an African girl when she grows up. When you are young you are very unsure about a lot of things. Our culture does not give us a chance to do the things men do. So when you try to break the norm you are always very unsure if you are doing the right thing.”
She noted that she is no longer afraid of what people think about her pursuing a music career and is ready to take on the industry. “When you grow up you know who you are, what you want. When I was younger each time I worked on my music, I would always think about what my family members would think about me.”
Having come full circle and experienced life in different set ups, Theluji says as an artist she wants to keep on telling stories and entertain fans.
“I want to help people forget about whatever challenging issues they may be facing in their life.”
Besides singing, Alicios is also a songwriter. “I really love writing and can write songs in the six different languages I speak including lingala, Swahili, French, English, Swedish and Norwegian.”
Albums as a hallmark for one’s career
With some artistes now focusing on releasing singles as opposed to albums, Theluji says an album is a high point for any musician career.
“It is best to release albums. You can’t have a 10-year career without an album.”
Even though she hasn’t released any album so far, Theluji says she has enough content that can fill up an album. Now with music being her main focus she says she would not hesitate to release one when the right time comes.
“You can’t release an album when you are not fully present on the music scene,”she explains why she hasn’t released any album to date.
Singing about the situation in Congo
In the past Theluji has said that she was not ready to sing about the situation in Congo. Even now she says she is not brave enough to sing about the war that has ravaged her home country.
“I don’t ignore what happens in Congo. I think it is not easy to sing about an ongoing war.”
When the right time comes she says she will not hold back to sing about the situation in her home country. However she says she has already penned down songs about the situation.
While in the past as an independent artist she would do everything that relates to her career as an artist, at the moment Theluji says she wants to focus on the artistic elements of her music and has therefore engaged a management team that will oversee the business development aspects of her career. Currently, Theluji is managed by Spark Africa Limited, a Kenyan talent relations and project management company.
“Many times artists think they can do everything. I think it is best to focus best on what you are good at and leave the other elements of your career to individuals who share your vision and understand the business issues,”
Music industry in East Africa
Commenting about the music industry in East Africa, Theluji notes that it is growing very fast. However she says the industry has an even better chance to do extremely well if all the stakeholders could take the industry serious and get things better.
“Music industry is like an army. The stakeholders have to work in tandem to achieve the very best,” she says.
Now with a management team in place, Theluji says each project she takes on will be based on sound decision making.
“In the past it was more of a gamble. Sometimes I did not know whether what I was doing would pay off. But just like any other career, my team and I will seek to fill existing gaps by making sound decisions.”
Besides her new single Theluji says she is in discussions with other artists to collaborate on new projects. Among those she says fans should expect a collaboration between her and Kenyan singer/producer Kagwe Mungai.