What you need to know:
- I am incredibly grateful and blessed to not only be friends with some of the most talented artists in Kenya, but to work alongside them.
- Watching these stars in their element and even in their not-so-amazing times (as it is in this industry and life) has been inspiring and encouraging.
- We have had very deep and valuable conversations with most of them.
Vallerie Muthoni aka Brown Suga is a Kenyan-American recording and performing artist based in Nairobi. She is a versatile artist who samples hip-hop, trap, RnB, soul and afrobeats on her two Eps: The Wavey Soul (2018) and Pisces SZN (2019). She is also an undergraduate journalism student who performs at shows such as Blankets & Wine Festival. The rising star has been featured on COLORS X Studios for her undeniable confidence and flow on the song Brown Suga.
1. Why is it important to you to not have your music classified in a particular genre?
Well, because at my core I am a multi-faceted creative. I have never felt the need to stick to one genre or one lane. I thrive in the freedom of being genre-fluid. It is what makes music fun and worthwhile for me, and exciting and unexpected for my listeners. So, because I know that I can sing, rap, do spoken word, direct, dance, and entertain, I feel it would be foolish to box me into one specific genre or creative field.
2. How do you think your journalism degree will help your music career? What do you plan to specialise in?
I am in my third year, almost done with my degree. I chose journalism because from a very young age, I knew that I wanted to host my own TV or radio show, aside from being an artist. I also knew that my mother would not let me do this music thing without having a degree, so I chose journalism, which combines my love for music and broadcasting. I am specialising in PR. It just felt like the most practical and useful choice for my career.
3. You've shared a stage with so many great artists, including Blinky Bill and Karun. What have you learnt from them?
I am incredibly grateful and blessed to not only be friends with some of the most talented artists in Kenya, but to work alongside them. Watching these stars in their element and even in their not-so-amazing times (as it is in this industry and life) has been inspiring and encouraging. We have had very deep and valuable conversations with most of them. I don't think I can fit all the lessons in this article. I just want to thank all the talented creatives around me who inspire, encourage, and help me grow.
4. How did you feel when you were selected as part of the perFORM cohort? Did it boost your performance skills? What is the one thing you learnt from the project?
Shoutout to PerFORM and Muthoni Drummer Queen for doing exactly what needed to be done in this growing Kenyan music industry. Muthoni encouraged me to apply and I'm glad I did. I was even more glad I was chosen. I learnt a lot not only from the facilitators but also from fellow PerFORM artists Mayonde, Njoki Karu, Polaris and GroovyJo. I am grateful for the chance to have worked with a team and be surrounded by individuals who are committed to their craft just as much as I am.
5. Could you explain the concept of NuNairobi?
This is the new age of alternative or genre-bending music coming out of Nairobi. It is a music hub that doesn't belong to any specific genre or any group of people. NuNairobi is a creative philosophy that offers creatives the power to be and create content in whatever genre or mood they wish, and assures them that no matter what, their Kenyan identity will never be compromised.