The focus and talk has been on Sauti Sol for the better part of this year but one cannot fail to notice how far this afro pop band, Elani have grown. I mean before Elani the pop culture was so monopolized, but they came with their own thing, just a little more mellow and sultry ,giving them an instant edge in the ever busy Kenyan music scene.
The trio Brian, Wambui and Maureen kicked off the year on a flying start with their seventh single Nikupende which did so well with just a lyric video. This would set the precedence to one the most amazing musical experiences they would have; Coke Studio.
”Coke Studio was amazing, for us it was….you know, from the outside looking in before we dipped our feet into coke studio waters..umh all we could see was the caliber of guys that were working there,you know, a guy like Zuaibala who just sings the way he sings, the guys who were playing the band,the BVJs. They were such amazing people, just everybody really. So for us in the beginning was like Yoh! we need to step it up!”
Which they did,the trio would be paired up with Nigerian afro pop star Chidima ,a continental heavy weight and the mash up promised to be nothing short of magical! Elani would take their step into one the best musical journeys right now in Africa.
”When we got there everybody was so welcoming, everybody was so warm…it doesn’t matter what I have achieved or what i have done blah blah blah, we are in this for this week lets all put our heads together and figure this out and Chidimma was the same exact way. Umh..nobody came there flashing their titles or their past success it was all about that week and how we can mash up those songs. It was really a good week we learnt a lot in terms of music,styling..basically the information we had going in was umped up by like 100%..”
With the recording done on Obama week in Kenya, it meant they would have to finish the recording in just 4 days rather than 6 days, the pressure was crazy but they were able to pull it off easily looking at the videos now. They recorded several songs but one stood out compared to the rest, ‘Remember Say’ originally done by Chidimma had this angelic touch to it and Elani did it justice considering it was their first time singing to an afro beat at least in public.
It was one of the songs Zuaibala had chosen for us and different producers were given so a producer called Silverstone chose that song..we were supposed to jump on the song, they did everything, they arranged everything, they had rehearsed everything so we just came and we were told ..is how? you guys have 15 min, there’s a blank space for you guys in this song,write ,we recording now. It’s a nice song that we fell in love with..and the way we create is we just need that good musical space to create in and once we had gotten a chance to listen to this beautiful song, we immediately had ideas,got papers, got pens, scribbled everything and everyone thought it was cool enough to pass.
Elani’s Coke Studio performance was phenomenal but that wasn’t the only reason they have been on everyone’s lips this year. If you attended CBA Concur De’ legance then you must have watched Elani and Octopizzo treat their fans to the new single that they plan to release soon. Why Octopizzo?
”There are a lot of rappers yes and also a lot of songs but for this particular song he was the perfect rapper. Different songs have different themes-we are very open to working with different people,in fact there guys we’ve wanted to work with for a long time-he was just the perfect fit”
When we wrote that song and finished we just felt like something is missing and Octo’s name came up! There’s really no formula,it’s not like we sat down..uh no! yes we thought about it but like Maureen said Octo was the perfect fit.
Elani’s collabo promises a breath of fresh air in Kenyan music when it comes to bridging the gap between different genres. Octo who has done this before with singers like Sage and recently with Cece Sagini-looks like he has mastered the art already. Is this the future of Kenyan music? Is it the X factor we’ve been waiting for?
It is a nice change and diversity is always a good thing, so that fact that collabos have increased in number in the past two years is a good thing because there’s just only so much you can do by yourself. When you bring someone else’s mind and talent into your song, you make it 1000 times better.
One thing that has stood out among the Elani trio is their impeccable fashion sense, be it in their shows/concerts, photo shoots, interviews and videos their always sharp and mind blowing. Ever wondered the hands behind their style?
It’s so hard to find someone in your team that your completely trust but with Silvia Njoki…we trust! (laughs) there instances where it’s one day to a show and we haven’t seen our outfits and it all good,we are not worried. You cant t create greatness by yourself,you need a team and we have Silvia!
”She gets what we individually like and strings it round to look like one,so that when we are presented we look like one,that the talent she brings to the table, the challenge for groups ,duets and trios is to always look like one brand and she gets that”
Coke Studio comes with its perks like fame! Elani’s following has steadily increased and they have a much bigger audience now than pre-Coke Studio, I wanted to know how they are handling this new found flame and how it feels like? The pressure and expectations.
We don’t have time to think about the fame,we have so much to do, I just wish people would get to understand how crazy our lives are. We seriously don’t have any time to think about that fame, we have so many projects that we are doing, so many video concepts that we are thinking about, we don’t have time to think about fame ,but if it comes we are humble about it and thankful to God for any other fan we get.
It’s harder,its better, I like it but there because we are finally living the life we wished for ourselves. Its getting better but just like Brian said there is no time to waste on Oh my goodness so and so knows my name..it doesn’t matter since now they know my name are we going to put out a song? You need to move forward!
What most people don’t understand is that Music is a full time job, it’s like any other job. The more you achieve the harder it gets, the more you look for an extra hour. It’s not like you wanting to do the job but rather the work load has now become a lot. After 2014 and what happened this year we now write more, we are thinking about concepts, thinking of ways to put our brand out there.
One thing is for sure- Elani are here to stay and their smash hit with Octopizzo promises to break musical boundaries and breath in a new lease of life to Kenyan music .But until then keep it Elani and subscribe to their music to get all the latest news on their musical journey.