The entire Sauti Sol brand has always been associated with quality in the kind of music they deliver; it is the reason they are the most successful Kenyan musical act of all time. Behind every musician’s ability to deliver their music successfully is an effective public relations strategy that works best for them, and Sauti Sol seem to have all that figured out; remember how Nishike took over by storm? Remember how the lipala dance challenge turned Kenyan instagrammers on their head? Public Relations is a powerful thing, and the person who controls this entire process to success is without doubt a genius.
The genius behind Sauti Sol’s Public Relations victories? The ever graceful Anyiko Owoko.
Anyiko has worked with Sauti Sol ever since the idea of Sauti Sol was conceived, and she was there for its conception.
“Initially they went by the name Sauti, but it had to be changed because it caused a lot of confusion; people would refer to them as the ‘Sauti Crew’ or the ‘Sauti Boys’ so we felt that adding ‘Sol’ would be the right thing”, Anyiko revealed to The Insyder.
“I met with Chimano after high school at Alliance Francais, and he revealed to me that he had a group of friends with whom he wanted to start a music group with, and I always had a passion for telling stories in whatever form. Therefore, when I started journalism, I saw the need for them to gain more exposure because nobody seemed to understand them even though they were extremely talented. I interviewed them for the University of Nairobi school newspaper, and people around school really started to identify with them. Since then we have collaborated on everything; I have been their stylist, I’ve provided my friends for their shoots, I’ve been their tour manager, but at some point they figured that the best title for me would be ‘publicist’ and so that was the point at which I decided to really get into PR”
I couldn’t even marvel at the fact that she handled all those responsibilities with ease, because she seemed so cool about it all. I just had to act cool about it as well and go about my questioning.
On the subject of how she would describe her PR role in its entirety,
“I’d refer to it as ‘Uniquely Crafted Public Relations’. Most PR agencies want to take something that worked for one artist and use it for another artist; something I have come to learn however is that the best approach to personally running my business would be to custom make everything for everyone. If you would like me to do public relations for your event I would not take the same contacts from another similar event and use them on yours, I would start from scratch and begin to curate it from the ground up. Taking Sauti Sol for example, ‘Shake yo Bam Bam’ is a club type of song while ‘Sura Yako’ and ‘Nerea’ are songs for everybody; therefore they might not use the same avenues. That gives me a challenge every time. It’s like architecture,” she says with a smile.
While Sauti Sol is her priority, Anyiko has worked with a lot more parties; she is currently jointly handling PR for Coke Studio Africa Season 4. Additionally, she ventured into doing PR for other artists.
“I felt that it was time for me to grow and to work with other parties; Sauti Sol are my long term collaborators, but I still work on temporary projects for other musicians”
Anyiko is not one to be discouraged by the difficulty of some tasks; she is the kind of person who would go to Sweden to attend a concert by D’Angelo and purpose to meet him by the time she would be leaving, and do everything she can to make sure it happens. She ended up meeting the man, something which really had me so pleasantly surprised; I mean, where do you get that kind of courage?
“When I think about it, it was a huge risk”, she says in between laughs. “I had already paid for my ticket and I would have been very disappointed if I left without having achieved that. I was so grateful because I ended up being the only journalist to meet him; not only the only journalist from Kenya or Africa, the only journalist who was there! I was so amazed.”
Before we wrapped up the interview, Anyiko provided some words of advise for teenagers; she urged them to do what they want to do and subsequently put love into their work.
“Not what your parents want or what is cool to do, what YOU want to do. It’s good to listen to your parents’ advice but at the end of the day it is your life and anything you do to that goes against your nature would not be justice for yourself. When I started out I didn’t know that what I was doing was actually PR, I just later came to learn after putting the work into what I loved to do, and it gives me so much satisfaction. Do something that gives you the same level of satisfaction and something that enriches you.”