Following the release of her first single in 2016 featuring Kinga Kaka, which saw her transform from a savvy underdog into a star, Yviona Wanjiru has shown beyond doubt that she is talented. The singer-songwriter is gearing up to release her first EP after her highly acclaimed album Cerise. She talks to MERCY KAVUTHA.
Growing up, what part did music play in your life?
My mother was a gospel artiste, part of a girl group back in the 1990s, and dad was a musician as well. So, I had quite an amount of pressure to sing gospel songs at church.
How would you describe your sound?
Fantastic! (Laughs). I call it a mix of Afro-pop, Afro-fusion, Chakacha, and R&B.
Who are some of your biggest musical influencers?
For stage performance its Beyoncé, but for actual music its Jhene Aiko.
Has having a musical career always been your dream?
I have always wanted to do music; always seen myself on a stage delivering my talent to people like Bey or Cardi B, and I still pursue it to this day.
So how did it come about?
It all started with King Kaka. A great artiste like him doing a song with me made me realise that I could do my passion and monetise it as well. I later deferred from college because I thought I was about to be famous. Sadly, things took a turn for the worst that year so I went back to school and I'm now in my fourth year. It all worked out, however, because I am able to juggle both my school and my hobbies, and it's going great.
What was the experience like recording your first single?
It was amazing! The song was horrible but it was so exciting and I instantly felt at home. I've released several songs after that.
“Thug Love”, featuring King Kaka made you quite famous back then. What was that like?
It was awesome. It opened many doors for me; most people know me from that song and I get to drop names like King Kaka. (Laughs)
What have you been up to?
I've been attending events and performing at different gigs, most of the time. I went to journalism school but later deferred, and now I'm doing Economics.
Tell us about your new EP.
I can't say the name yet, unfortunately, but it's going to be featuring Young Haze on most of the songs. I think Young Haze is very talented, so the idea of doing an EP with him sounded amazing; I have had the best time recording.
You also do makeup. Tell us more about that.
I do makeup on the side as a spare hustle and I have a lot of clients, though I never post them on my social media because I prefer to keep it separate. I have plans to soon enough monetise it on a larger scale, by getting it branded and putting my work up on social media.
Future collabos we should be looking forward to?
Absolutely. I have one coming out with Masauti, Naiboi and we’re still in the negotiating phase with Khaligraph Jones – we haven’t recorded one with him yet, but I'm just putting it out there!
Tell us some of our music industry inside ongoings from your perspective.
It's extremely hard, not just glitz and glamour as many assume. It's a lot of nights at the studio, being there whenever your people need you, and rarely ever having me-time due to engagements.
What does Yviona do when she's not making music or attending class?
I love movies, a heavy social media user, and I totally love working out.
If you were stranded on an island but had the option of bringing one musical item with you, which would it be?
Tough call between a piano and a guitar... I’d say a piano, I enjoy it a lot.
At the end of the day, what do you hope to deliver to your fans?
I always aim for something new and fresh, and that gives you goosebumps when you listen to it for the first time. My fans mean a lot to me and I want to keep making them happy by giving them the best of me.
Is Yviona taken?
(Giggles). Yes, I am. I'll keep his identity secret but he's in the music industry as well. He's a singer/rapper and we’re very happy.