Cedo the hit maker

Cedrick “Cedo” Kadenyi is a popular and sought-after music director and producer. PHOTO | COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • Cedo has worked with the likes of King Kaka, Frasha, Naiboi, Kristoff, Nyashinski, Sauti Sol, Avril, Nyota Ndogo, H_Art The Band, Gilad, Dela, Amos and Josh and many other top tier artistes and has had a hand in creating chart topping songs.
  • A producer is the link between the artiste, their lyrics, melody and a finished product. My work is to find out if I will release the song in acappella, or do I want to put piano, drums, do I want to make it a club banger or a ballad?
  • So an artiste will sing the chorus for me and I will create the instrumentation then give it to him to rehearse with it.

He is a lawyer turned producer

For the longest time I battled between law school and music. My folks wanted me to do law, it was their dream but I wasn’t passionate about it but I did it anyway. It was hard but I soldiered on and I even got admitted to the bar, I went to my parents, told them I had finished their dream and it was time for me to practice mine. 

He lets his work surprise him and has no favourite song

I get to listen to the finished songs after they are days old and already on radio. I bump into them playing somewhere then I’m like, ‘Oh, that’s how it sounds?’ I get so excited before artistes’ projects are released, not after.

I like it when I give a client back their song and they say ‘This is it!’ I feel great. I’ve never been able to choose a favourite song because I feel like the songs are my children. Like last week I so excited about Avril’s latest release Uko. I also have up coming stuff with Nyashinski and Gilad. 

Why he wasn’t sure about Kristoff’s Dandia

I wasn’t sure about Dandia. I had a weird feeling… Kristoff wanted the song to be released on a particular day and the day before I was not feeling inspired enough to finish it. I went to the studio, worked on it all night and at 7a.m I was done. By 10a.m it was on air! I panicked but sometimes that’s what happens but in the end it all worked out. 

Wasn’t so sure about Nyashinski’s Mungu Pekee in the beginning

Mungu Pekee gave me sleepless nights. I played that song to a couple of people before it was released just to get their opinion. There was a deejay who was disappointed because he thought the song was supposed to be a club banger, like a standard ‘Pacho’ tune. But that wasn’t what Nyash and I wanted to achieve, for us, the instrumentation needed to match the lyrics, which was the priority. I really doubted myself and I kept thinking ‘Have I done the right thing?’ 

The process of producing a song is hectic

A good producer is not the one who makes the best track, it’s one who is able to interpret the emotion of the writer and the song into what people will say, ‘This song really touched me.’ A producer is the link between the artiste, their lyrics, melody and a finished product. My work is to find out if I will release the song in acappella, or do I want to put piano, drums, do I want to make it a club banger or a ballad? So an artiste will sing the chorus for me and I will create the instrumentation then give it to him to rehearse with it.

He will come back so that we capture the vocals, then we’ll sit down and make the final mix and make sure that its good enough for radio and finally the song is released.  

Music is a full time job

My off days are on Sundays and Mondays. On Sunday mornings I go to church and in the afternoon I chill with my family if I’m around. I try as much as possible to relax on Mondays but beyond that I’m in the studio every day. The days of being a musician part time are over. If this is something that feeds you, you have to keep improving yourself and go to work. The day I will make too much money is the day I will tell you I’m not going to work. 

The identity tag ‘Cedo’ said in all his songs was not planned

I started off by producing gospel music around 2007 and 2008. I brought up so many gospel artistes like Kevoh Yout, Mr. T, Maximum Melodies, Betty Bayo, the late Kaberere and others. One day I was recording Kevo Yout and in the intro of his song he said my name and it stuck. However it’s loved and hated in equal measure. 

He is Sauti Sol’s music director

I had a gig with Niko na Safaricom Live in 2011. At the time I was the music director for all the artistes’ bands; there was Size 8, Jimmy Gait, Jaguar, Camp Mulla and I think P-Unit. I met Sauti Sol in 2010 at a gig and asked to play with them. After they saw me in action (at Safaricom Live) they thought ‘we could really use this guy’.  So they added me to the team and I became their music director and I hand-picked their band. 

He goes everywhere with Sauti Sol

I travel with Sauti Sol everywhere but the saddest thing is I don’t get to spend time with my friends and family. I have to look for them on weekdays but then they are at work. This weekend we might be in Nigeria, the next one we will be in China for ten days and when we get back there will be something coming up again. 

Fatherhood made him a ‘man’

Fatherhood was a complete turnaround. When you become a parent you become responsible for another human being, it’s not a joke. Before I got my baby, I had dreadlocks, I was very boyish in my looks and mentality. But my baby was born, I shaved my dreads, I started thinking differently; I registered my business properly, I teamed up with some people and formed a company. When she was born I had just finished law school and I knew I wasn’t going to pursue it, and here I had another human being to be responsible for. I love her so much. 

Developing chemistry with artistes

If you don’t have chemistry with an artiste it’s going to be a disaster. Nyashinski recently asked me to consider working with him on a personal level, not just in the studio, like doing performances and so on and that’s the same thing Sauti Sol told me a few years back. I think one of my strengths as a producer is making sure I develop good chemistry with artistes. 

He helps artistes find their voice

If a song has fulfilled the purpose it was intended to, then I’m happy. If an artiste wanted a hit song and I didn’t deliver, then I will begin questioning myself. People come to me and tell me they want something exactly like Dandia, but I ask them to find their own unique sound. I will advise you on what I feel but I can’t dictate someone on what to do. 

He will not work with you if...

Your late for sessions, or if you dictate too much on what you want without giving me the creative space. Also, if you’re doing music as a hobby, there’s some element of seriousness that usually lacks, but that doesn’t apply to everybody. Some artistes don’t take studio sessions seriously. Plus when you come with your creativity there’s a place it needs to stop so that mine picks up and I take it from there. There are clients who want to control the sessions too much and that’s not acceptable. 

On being underestimated because of his boyish looks

People have underestimated me because of how I look, I was born in 1984 but I look like a small boy. We’ve had events where I had to show my identification card before I could go in. 

Taking his sound to the world

I want to take my sound to the pan-African market. I’ve worked with Chameleone twice and I’m working with Vanessa Mdee now. We are meeting in Nigeria to do some things together. I’ve worked with Rich Mavoko as well. 

An eye and ear for talent

I can spot talent a mile away, I can tell if someone is going to be a superstar. But it comes with time, there are people I’m working with right now that I worked with ten years ago and I’m listening to them now with a fresh ear and it’s amazing. It takes a bit of maturity.

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