Mukami Gitonga Kaaria, known by her brand name, Kash Kaaria, has been in the creative space for a long time in her life now. Having recently come out as a solo artiste, with an EP on the way, she talks to Karen Muriuki.
Who is Kash Kaaria in your own words?
An artiste, fashion blogger and an avid lover of music.
What got you into writing songs and being in the creative space?
When I started, I never knew I was writing poems as a form of expressing my emotions. I would write, especially when I was feeling overwhelmed. My mum had instilled the writing culture in me from a young age. I wrote my first song when I was in primary school.
Is that what got you into blogging as well?
Yes, actually. But it was more of a channel for me to explore fashion, which I didn’t have the opportunity to do while in school. The transition from high school to the university gave me the time to share my two cents on fashion.
It’s not as active anymore, because music has been taking so much of my energy, but I know I’ll fuse both loves in the near future; seeing as I am my own stylist. I’m still trying to figure that out, though.
When did you make the conscious decision to get into music professionally?
I was the lead in a rock band called The Rocker in high school (St George’s Girls’ Secondary School). We had a producer, and would perform in school and gigs like ‘Battle of the Bands’. We actually had an album, which never came out because we didn’t really trust the producer.
I came out as a solo act after finishing my Bachelor’s Degree in Biotechnology from Kenyatta University. I had to discover what music I wanted to put out and how I wanted to do so.
How would you describe your music?
It’s a fusion of Afro beat, Pop, Rock and Hip hop. I still don’t have a specific genre; figuring that out. (Laughs).
Who would you say supported you when you started your brand?
My mum, manager and friends. Kash has always been a nickname, which was given to me by my dad.
Is anyone in your family musical?
Yes, actually. My grandfather used to play the guitar, something that came as a shock to me when I found out earlier last year. He didn’t pursue this love though; he had a nine-to-five job. My uncle sings as well.
Do you play any instruments yourself?
I play the piano, but not really professionally. I write my music with certain four chords that I taught myself back in primary school. I want to learn more though.
How do your song writing ideas come to you?
That varies. They can be sparked by conversations with friends, experiences or connecting with people. Other times, I look for inspiration by listening to music from my favourite artistes.
Do you have any formula that you follow when writing?
Yes. (Laughs). For example, if I listen to a beat, I have to get the melody right through humming, after which the words follow.
What’s on your ‘plate’ right now?
I’m currently doing classes at Sauti Academy. It’s in tune with what I do, which makes it easier for me to balance both. Planning is everything to me.
Of all your songs, which is your favourite, and why; released or unreleased?
I have an unreleased song that’s probably my favourite. I won’t talk about it though. (Laughs).
But “Nafsi” follows closely because it’s a liberating song. I wrote it for a friend who went through a terrible break-up, to let her know it is okay to go through the pain. What I didn’t know is that I was writing it for my healing as well. I also went through a bad break-up.
Have you had trouble writing any song?
Not really. Not yet, at least. (Laughs). Once I get the right melody, I don’t stop writing until I’m done, and it flows.
What’s the best gig you’ve performed at?
The last edition of Blankets and Wine, definitely. It was the most professional yet. I had so much fun. The energy I received from the crowd was unbelievable. Seeing strangers sing along to my music really changed me. It assured me and motivated me to keep going.
What’s the weirdest thing that has happened to you on stage?
I forgot the lyrics to my song last year. It was most likely due to stage fright, but I literally had to start all over again. (Laughs).
What other music do you listen to?
R&B, Reggae, Hip Hop and Afro beats. But rock tops the list. Linkin Park have been very influential in my music career.
What genre wouldn’t you listen to?
Probably hard rock and heavy metal.
What major plans do you have for 2020?
I hope to have released my EP by June. There are gigs I have been eyeing as well, that I hope I get to perform at.
Strangest thing you've ever eaten?
What's your lifelong dream?
To run my own company.
What would you do for fun in Mars?
Take selfies for my friends on earth. (Laughs).
If you could be any other nationality what would it be?
What is the most delightful word you can think of?