Serro; Kenyan songstress talks about music finding her

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Tell us a little bit about the background of Serro, your childhood, how did you get into music?

I am the third of three kids and I had a pretty normal childhood. I’ve lived in K.South from when I was 8 years old, so I’ve pretty much grown up in K.South. I went to school in Nairobi all the way from the beginning up to campus and all through school (all levels), music has always been a constant.
It all started in primary school as I would always get picked to lead praise and worship in front of the entire school; but at that time I didn’t quite realize that my heart was really into it. I also had a certain liking for music festivals which my parents weren’t very supportive of at the time. I remember we always used to fight, they told me to not participate and they would just realize that dirty costumes were part of the laundry (meaning I went). But thank God I started early because by the time I was finishing up with high school, my folks had warmed up to the idea of me doing music coz I was really into it. But through it all, music always picks me. I do well as a musician and it’s the area where I thrive most, so thank you music for loving me back.

What kind of music do you do, or what is it? Do you have a specific technique associated with your brand? Take us through your creative process from idea to final product.

I really don’t box myself under once specific style but I usually say I do everything African. I’m therefore aiming at shaping my brand towards that direction; I want to be the perfect blend between Miriam Makeba and Yemi Alade.
My creative process mainly depends on where I get inspiration from. I get a lot of Eureka moments where I suddenly feel like I have this great song idea or video concept or something like that. I usually get inspirations from literally anything ranging from that guy who will sell me a smokie pasua on the street to a high level performance that I watch. I get ideas from everyday people, their stories and experiences give me ideas, then I get my guitar and try translate those feelings into a song.

Tell us about your debut song “Rongai”, how did it come about?

As mentioned, I get inspirations everywhere and this is one of those songs that just came to me. I remember I was washing the dishes and I had this melody and these words and I felt it could create a beautiful story that a lot of girls can relate to. So I got my guitar right after I was done and played around with words, chords and rhythms until I got a structure for it. I then took it to Mordecai (lead vocalist H_art the band) who was my song writing teacher at the time in Sauti Academy and he also guided me on how to make it better.
The song in simple terms is about a wrong guy from Rongai who constantly tells lies. After I started performing it at gigs is when I started to feel it as well; as people would walk up to me and tell me how much they love it and really relate to it. So it gained more meaning after it had been written.

What are you artistic influences; poets, spoken word artists, or just people who inspire your writing/performance?

I usually find myself getting inspired in seasons. I’ll have a time I’m into this type of writing or this specific type of groove, and it keeps changing from time to time. I am currently listening to a guy called Nathi from SA whose writing really inspires me; I really love how he is able to capture his feelings into his writing and he translates it into songs so well that even I feel what he is feeling. I therefore listen to him not only for the entertainment value but also just get into his mind as a song writer.
Performance wise, I’m currently into Lira’s way of performing as so I try to watch her live performances just to get inspired. I’m also listening to a lot of gospel music.

As a female artist, what challenges have you endured during your artistic journey?

To be honest, I’m usually so oblivious to what may be happening around me because I am always so focused on the work I am supposed to do. I also never have expectations. This keeps me from noticing when some things are happening or when anyone is trying to level any form of prejudice towards me; in other words, I go with the flow. So what I can say so far is, the challenges I face are the normal ones that every artist has to go through as is part of the process and not because I am a female.

Do you think there is a future in the Kenyan music industry for female artists?

YES! Huge yes actually. I feel like the Kenyan market is really hungry for talented females to take over. I am so happy that people like Phy, Band Beca. Sage and Dela (just to name a few) are making the necessary strides and Kenyans are receiving them so well. I can’t wait for me to be part of this industry take over.

If you had to change one thing in the Kenyan music industry what would that be?

I would definitely create more tolerance within ourselves as artists. We often fail to recognize that music is an art form and a form of expression; therefore, people can’t all express themselves in the same way. I feel like we can have more respect and tolerance for people who don’t do things the way we want we want them to.
What I mean is, as musicians (especially those of us who are in the live music scene), we love to criticize a lot. We go to gigs not to enjoy but to knit pick what was wrong about an artist’s performance, of whether his music is good enough, where so and so staged a better performance e.t.c. All these takes away from us just being present and enjoying what an artist can do. So fellow artists, we need to have more tolerance towards people who do things that are different from what we have a personal liking for.

If you had a chance for an international work collaboration, who would it be and why?

Yemi Alade! I just feel like I get her style and she will get mine. What we have in common is the embracing of the boldness and beauty of African music.

If you were not doing art what you would be doing?

I would be teaching it. I love to teach actually. So I’ll eventually look into becoming a music teacher. Also, one day, just one day, I would like to be a motivational speaker. So let me get my life in order before I start giving these life changing talks.

Where do you see Serro in the next 10 years?

I have this thing about living in the now and enjoying now without worrying about next year and the year after that. So I’m just here trying to make a good life and trying to realize my God given purpose. In 10 years, we will see where God will have taken me.
But I wanna have a family, that’s for sure.

Word of advice to aspiring female artists.

The world owes you nothing! You need to get up and go get what you want.

Where can people buy your music/concert tickets/ or which clubs do you play in?

I don’t have a regular gig where people can get me but social media works very well and I post updates on what people need to know depending on when they need to know it. Just search for Serro Music in all platforms and you’ll get me.
Disclaimer: I’m not big on twitter. I just don’t get it! So Instagram and Facebook will do just fine.

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