Stephanie Gogo has loved creating, supporting and consuming art for as long as she can remember.
And at 23, she decided to ‘come out’ from a closeted rapper to a recording artiste with her debut album Change. She talked to Karen Muriuki.
How would you describe yourself and what you do for a living?
I would describe myself as an artist. Art is what I do to live. As for what I do for a living, I work in the tech start-up space – all things branding, marketing and communication.
What would you say your debut album Change means to you and your music career?
Change is my formal introduction to the music industry. I had been rapping for a few years prior to this, but I was yet to put out anything studio-recorded. You could say Change is my ‘coming out’ party – from a closet rapper to a recording artist.
Every song in this debut EP is different as they were all created over five years. In it, I touch on a lot of themes that are crucial to my coming-of-age journey: love, conflict, fear of failure, commitment.
Could you describe the process of creating it? The highs? The lows?
The Highs: I enjoyed working on this project because I did it with people I love. The creative process involved collaborating with a lot of industry ‘underdogs’, traversing locations and times to fuse sounds that speak to the past, present and future of music.
‘Papaya Dreams’ carries the nostalgia of Kenya’s 2004 musical era, ‘None O Dem’ is true to the UK drill sound. There’s a lot of different stuff on there. I wasn’t ever bored making any of it.
The Lows: I made the decision to move back to Kenya in June 2019 after things started to go downhill on the island of Mauritius where I was living but not doing too well. It was only back home that I decided to record most of my verses for the tracks. Moving from one trap house to the next, working with unprofessional engineers and dealing with low-quality equipment really dampened the momentum. I was really happy with everything I was creating but the technical side of things was a mess.
A few days before the EP was scheduled for release, we decided to re-record everything from scratch in my bedroom closet. I was booked in for a root canal around the same time so part of my jaw had stitches in. My mom always jokes that it felt like Kanye’s ‘Through the Wire’ moment. But we did it.
What projects have you been working on, especially during the pandemic?
I’ve worked on a lot of features during this pandemic time. There’s about 15 feet Steph’s on the way. Other than that, I’m putting together my sophomore project – a mixtape – which I’ll share more details on once the cards align.
I’m also taking part in a hip-hop competition called Take Back the Mic and it’s going really well so far.
If you ever found yourself auditioning for a music reality TV show, what song would you sing and why?
Fleetwood Mac - ‘Dreams’. I definitely don’t have the range to do this song (or any other that isn’t mine) justice, so I’d probably only be participating to enjoy myself. And boy, do I love to sing this song.
How would you complete this sentence? The Kenyan Cabinet should include a Minister of?
Public Office Surveillance. They’d literally put together a team that follows everyone significant that’s employed by the state around, all day every day recording them and broadcasting it live.