Kenyan artist Nasara is a jack-of-all trade, an artist who triples as a beatboxer, musician and poet. An expert in rhythm fused with words and poetry, Nasara does not believe in labeling music because, “it defeats the purpose and the intention of music”
Nasara will be performing on September 16 in Nairobi at the Michael Joseph Center, during Kenya’s third Ink Overflow’s Art and Poetry.
Afroway caught up with the artist for a candid interview on his art and life…
Afroway: What is Nasara's real name and what is the meaning of Nasara?
Nasara: Just send an MPesa to 07… I’m just kidding. My Government name is William Gachihi, Nasara is an interesting name. It’s a reference to someone who believes that Jesus is the son of God.
Afroway: Tell us about your childhood and how it influenced your present life?
Nasara: I used to love cartoons so much and now it has led me to loving animated movies so much…or did you mean life? Yes, I experienced a lot of love growing up and I didn’t know how important it was until I met guys who needed it. It has shaped how I view stuff. You know, relationships, music, just life in general.
Afroway: What role did your teachers play in shaping your career in the Arts?
Nasara: I was shaped into a scientist. I just did this from fun, self-taught. I read a lot though from Shakespeare to Ludlum. From John Keats to Stephen King. I also listened to everything my older brothers got.
Afroway: Talking about careers, do you have a career outside of the arts?
Nasara: I’d like to say I’m an entrepreneur. I do business with my wife.
Afroway: You have done several poetry projects for example you were part of Power of Words - poetry book by Kenyan Writers. Would you tell us how this project and any other project you may have done has influenced the appreciation of poetry in Kenya?
Nasara: Power of Words…yes… I wrote a piece for the project…yes. errr. This is the only published piece I have. I know... I’m a pseudo poet. On the real though, I didn’t myself get a copy of the project. I was in a phase where my focus was elsewhere. I wouldn’t know the impact of the anthology. For recorded poetry, I also haven’t done a full length poetry/spokenword album. The few pieces I have done in my musical project seem to strike a chord with listeners. For the appreciation of poetry in Kenya goes, I guess events have had more impact than books. People don’t really read.
Afroway: Besides poetry, you are a beatboxer and a musician. Who are your mentors in these fields?
Nasara: Oh yes. A musician gets his inspiration from many places, as do I. I study other musicians for the style, delivery, arrangement. I am an eclectic listener. I can’t have just a few people I look up to. Beatboxing is a hobby so I’m not so keen though I watch a lot of videos on YouTube.
Afroway: About your music, how many musical Projects have you worked on? What projects are in the pipeline? Any collabos?
Nasara: My projects…wooh. I have one album Overflow (2015), three mixtapes Random Access Poetry (2017), Safari ya Nyumbani (2017) and Easter Eggs (2017). There is an EP on the way called The Side Hustle. And hopefully two more project before the year is done. Collaborations may be there I just don’t know it.
Nasara, Photo: Sifa Dena
Afroway: What Iconic star would you fancy a collabo with?
Nasara: My dream collabo would be an African Album where the music features dope musicians from Zahara to Sona Jobarteh. Get DJ Fish to do my intro and get PLO and Morgan Freeman do my interludes. Do a joint with the Winans. I can’t do just one song… Issa challenge.
Afroway: You are among the few pious artists out there. Your work though is versatile moving from religious to secular. How do you feel about these two distinctions and what role has religion played in making you be what you are today.
Nasara: My work seems to be like a ping pong game, however when you really look at it keenly there is only one narrative. A biblical world view. My lens is the Bible. There has been a lot of debate and it defeats the purpose and the intention of music. People will always make music from a point of reference. That reference is how they view life. In my case I believe in God and my relationship with Him dictates how I make music. My faith has shown and taught me that Love is an ingredient to making other people’s lives better. So I make music out of love. Love for God, love for people and love for music.
Afroway: Tell us about your most exciting experience on stage as a performing artist.
Nasara: Wow... There are so many. A few weeks ago I went to a church in Umoja Estate where the attendance was like 2000 teenagers accompanied by my brother Noiz. Took to the stage dressed in hoodies and when we began our show, there was very little expectation…but by the end you could see the eyes of the kids all lit up. My greatest desire is to be part of people’s journeys. Making them better people.
Afroway: Talking about performance, you are among the poets performing at Art and Poetry at the Michael Joseph Centre. What should your fans expect from you?
Nasara: People should expect excellence, randomness, bars... and honesty.
Afroway: The theme of the show is Mental Health, what is your earliest encounter with people suffering from mental health problems. In your own opinion, do you think the society is taking the problem seriously? What should be done to improve society's perception of the problem?
Nasara: My earliest encounter was a guy called Marbat who would walk through our estate asking for food. He had great disses. “Sura aka mguu yangu” (Your face is like my foot). He had very ugly feet. I mean the really, extremely, very much type of ugly feet. You can’t even say eeewww. That bad. He was not okay and people made fun of him. Society can’t take the problem serious if they aren’t informed. People still chain their autistic kids to beds. The government facilities are poor. Take Mathari Mental Hospital for example is a drug rehab and psych facility. Yaani…
Afroway: What is your favourite music Genre? Favourite artist?
Nasara: Easy…Hiphop. I actually don’t have a particular fav artist as I get something small from everyone. Though musicians who make Boombap make me happy.
Afroway: As an artist you handle issues affecting society. What do you feel about the latest Kenyan Post Election situation? What is your advice on the ‘extremist’ tribal opinions in the country?
Nasara: Politics is a dicey topic. It makes even the most educated become idiots. Yes, idiots. Silly imbeciles. Politics has spoiled business. Guys are too afraid to spend. If you make people economically stable there will be no time for politics…unfortunately to make people economically stable you need politics… I don’t know…
Afroway: Kenya is known for her picturesque landscapes, where will you take a first time visitor for a day out?
Nasara: Sunrise at the coast with a breakfast of mahamri, mbaazi and samosas… Fly to Nairobi so by 10 am they are here. A quick rush for photos at the top of KICC. Take them to animal orphanage for like two hours. Take them for lunch at a Nyama Choma place in Nalepo on the way to Kiserian. Fly them to Kisumu for the afternoon. Take a boat ride on Lake Victoria then have fish at Lwang’ni...
Afroway: Your favorite Kenyan Food?
Nasara: Food here is in plural… I love pilau. Ugali and mbuzi wet fry, chicken biryani…
Afroway: When do you think an African man should settle down and start a family?
Nasara: Where are you getting this questions from? Hahaha. I believe one is ready after they have made a choice to and after premarital counselling so that they can make an informed decision.
Afroway: What does Nasara do in his free time?
Nasara: People have free time? I’m either working or researching. Movies and books are research for me. Oh I love contact sports. Watching them is a good pass time.
Afroway: And finally, artists are known to be quirky? What are some of your quirks?
Nasara: I have conversations with myself. I also do random videos of me having conversations with myself…for posterity...
Artwork: Nasara Artwork: Gregory Wandera