When you listen to music, you’ll often want to know the name of the artist. But, have you ever thought about the producer?
Whereas their work is often behind the scenes and does not come with the fame that their artists get, producers and beat makers are crucial in getting your favourite jam to be what it is.
It is also true that many young people are more interested in becoming performing artists and musicians, but few want to be producers, perhaps due to its technicality and difficulty in execution.
However, that’s the path Kaiser Onyango, 24, chose to take. The one less travelled. Kaiser who goes by the stage name Kayo Rille. He is a music producer and beat maker who not only taught himself the craft, but has gone ahead and started his recording studio at his home in Kahawa Sukari estate.
His studio, NOSTAPROS Records, an acronym for ‘No Sleep Till Tha Future’s Proper’ has produced over 450 songs since its creation in 2017 and has been home to over 70 artists. All the songs have been produced by Kayo Rille.
His path in music production did not happen in a day. Initially, he started out as a rapper while still in high school as he was passionate about music.
“I have had a soft spot for music for a long time, and by Form Two, I would rap for fellow students, which led me to being appointed the vice-chair of the Talent Art Club in School. I kept performing in school events and tournaments, and eventually, Scar Mkadinali, a Kenyan rap artiste, took note of me and invited me for a session in the studio,” he says.
Together, they recorded their first song. From that single, Kayo Rille was motivated to get better in music so he spent more time in the studio. He saved while still in high school and spent the money paying for recording sessions and buying beats for his songs.
After getting his four songs out, it had reached a point where he could no longer afford to pay for sessions or buy the beats. That was his turning point. Since he was still in high school and could not go to a music academy to learn production, he decided to learn the craft on his own. To do this, he turned to tutorials on YouTube.
“I spoke to my mother about my passion in music and how I wanted to pursue production. My mom was willing to support me and promised to give me Sh15,000 if I passed my KCSE exam. I performed well and she made good her promise. I used the money to buy some second-hand speakers and a microphone. I then invested in learning music production and got myself books on sound engineering to supplement the tutorials on YouTube,” he says.
After polishing his skills, he began professional recording in 2017 in his bedroom.
“When I started, I didn’t have a proper recording booth and from what I had learnt online, reflection was a big issue with recording vocals. To get the quality right, I used a tiny shoe closet with blankets on the walls as the recording booth. The place being too dark, I used a rechargeable lamp for lighting. The place was so hot that male artists would have to take off their shirts when recording. I lost many female customers,” he offers.
Although he had a makeshift studio, the quality of his work was not debatable.
Through his first artist Mbithi, he got introduced to Box House Media, which had better equipment. He created his own beats in his bedroom and then took them to Box House Media where he professionally mixed and mastered them.
He started producing songs for other recording studios as he saved and bought new equipment for his own at home.
Three years later, his studio grew and production picked up. He can now comfortably pay the bills, even feeling better that he made the right decision to defer his university studies (degree in commerce) to chase his dream.
Today, Kayo Rille’s goal is to capture his artists’ vision and deliver good products. Seeing an artist full of joy once the job is done makes it all worth it to him.
To upcoming artists, Kayo Rille showcases his craft through his Instagram account @kayo.rille.