Exclusive interview with Teezeh Kijana T an Afropop singer and songwriter.
Born and Raised in Oyugis Town, Homa-bay county, in the western part of Kenya, Jusper Nerrie Otieno professionally known as Teezeh or Kijana T, is an Afropop singer and songwriter. Having honed his skills overtime inspired by the likes of-sir, Makadem, Sautisol & Suzanna Owiyo, Teezeh’s sound can be defined as a fusion of Benga and modern urban instruments.
The musician is working on making a name for himself having been selected as one of the performers at the Eastern & Central African Ongea Music Summit 2019 where he performed his fan-favorite tracks”awino”, “facilitate” and”Zangire”.
Know more about Teezeh Kijana T
Question: Kindly Introduce yourself, who is Teezeh Kijana?
Answer: Teezeh Kijana T is a singer from Oyugis Town.
Question: How did you come up with your stage name?
Answer: Since my birth name is OTIENO, my schoolteacher used to call me OTIS which later shifted to OTIZEH and it became popular, so I just dropped the O and remained with TEEZEH. then made it my stage name.
Question: Give us a background of your Music career journey?
Answer: I started singing at the age of 13 in high school musicals then later at 16, I began recording music in Downtown Music Records in Rongai, Nairobi. During that period I met producer/ dancehall singer Videz Hybrid, of HYBRID BEATS, whom we worked with under Vidman Production to release some songs (before he rebranded to HYBRID BEATS). Afterward, in 2014, I released my first music video called “Mayatima” under ATL ENTERTAINMENT and later that same year I got signed to Grosspool Music label for a two-year management deal. The years to follow, 2016 and 2017 I worked with BRYLAT
RECORDS located in Embakasi, Nairobi. Where I did my recordings including my first major collaboration, featuring Comedian/singer Oga Obinna in a song called “Cheza Chini” then towards the end of 2017, I signed a recording deal with Grosspool Music label that led to the recording and release of my debut Ep, Transmission, mid-2018. Courtesy of Aipate Magazine, I also managed to perform the EP at the EASTERN AND CENTRAL AFRICA ONGEA MUSIC SUMMIT 2019 held in Nairobi.
Question: Describe your sound?
Answer: Generally I call it the AFRO-EAST sound. Sounds from the lake. Growing up I listened to a lot of Benga and Ohangla music, all of which influenced my current sound. From the language which is majorly Swahili, to more of guitar and piano usage in the beats. Actually there are two major cultures that contribute to my sound, my tribe (Luo) and my religion (protestant – SDA ). I do listen to lots of SDA choir songs which help me in creating melody during compositions and also as a Luo I tend to fuse our massive music
culture into my sound. We love celebrating life so I ensure most of my sounds are dance tunes.
Question: What was the inspiration behind Kijana T?
Answer: My life and what happens around me is always my source of inspiration. Just the thought of what needs to be done in the society and how it can be done, the only suitable way for my case was to use my art since its what I am best at and just like that TEEZEH KIJANA T was born. Kijana T is just a nickname I got from people who couldn’t pronounce my name perfectly.
Question: How do you market yourself?
Answer: Hehe interesting question. You know I am a student of Marketing at Kenyatta University and according to what I’ve learned so far in class and out of class, is that communication is the key to marketing, its everything. For my case as a music brand, my main tool for communicating my brand is my music contents, putting more songs out there and ensuring that these songs reach the desired target audience and performing these songs as well, and since we are in a digital era where the internet rules, My marketing team always invests more resources on social media, constantly creating more awareness about my brand using music as a major tool.
Question: The Music industry is full of cut-throat competition. What is unique about you that sets you apart from the rest?
Answer: Competition is not a bad thing. The bad thing is if you donno what you are competing for. And that’s the problem in the music industry. Why compete for small things like airplay, awards, interviews, these things are just by products of your actions. The real competition is within you and your world. I don’t have to be unique and I’m not here to compete. I am singing so as to be in a position that can influence some positive change in society. Sometimes I just wish only if we could compete with one another in creating a positive impact on society, the world would have been in a far much better place. I always look at my life from years ahead and that helps me differentiate what’s important and what’s not. For example you won’t here history talking of Bob Marley scrambling to be featured in the tv shows of their time but you’ll hear the world talk of how they got inspired by Bob and even at some levels, reggae music reduced crime rates in Jamaica cos many youths got inspired to sing and they abandoned crime, neither will you hear that Fela Kuti was competing to have airplay but you’ll hear of how he transformed the African music scene to a global scale and now Afrobeats is sellable outside Africa. I am speaking of that coz that’s what most musicians of this day always compete for. History will speak none of
that. And that’s why I always look at my life from Years ahead since it helps me understand life and just know what exactly I should be competing for. If something you are competing for is as old as your lifespan then it’s not worth competing for.
Question: What challenges have you encountered as a young person in the music industry? How have you been able to overcome those challenges?
Answer: As an artist, Challenges are so many, but to me, my main challenge is basically lack of enough resources. That’s the reason why I’ve always collaborated with other people who have better resources to have my brand name out there.
Question: In your opinion who is the most influential and successful artiste in your genre today and why?
Answer: Since my genre falls under Afro-East. I’d say Diamond Platnumz.
He has won several awards, Done major collabos, has an active powerful music label, and most importantly, he has shown light to lots of upcoming musicians and several other people who can now put food on their table because of Diamond Platnumz. All of his successes have always been my dreams. He is an Enterprise.
Question: If you could choose to work with some of today’s established artists or producers, to move your game to the top, with whom would you like to work with?
Answer: First I’ll only work with artists who have integrity towards their art and great responsibility for their brands, for that’s the only thing that if I collaborate with, I’ll feel like my game has moved up Starting with our republic of Kenya, I’ll work with legendary Producer Musyoka, producer Cedo, Magix Enga, producer Motin beat Don, rapper Octopizzo, King Kaka, Muthoni Drummer Queen, dancehall artist Wyre, Ohangla singer Emma Jalamo. These artists have not only put their music on top, but also their moves have always put the Kenyan flag high. Then add Sautisol Band to that list too, being that they are the best boy band from Africa that I know. Plus I’d say that they are the most successful band from Kenya, too many achievements to speak of. Internationally I’d love to work with Wizkid,his sound has always been a major influence to my sound, Tiwa Savage our African queen I admire her versatility with different beats and rhythms, J Hus from U.K I admire the Grime rap, Diamond platnumz for his case we all know why he’s the main guy spearheading the growth of Swahili music for global commercial appeal.
Cassper Nyovest from South Africa, he is like a ghost mentor to me. Not only because of his music but also his entrepreneur moves. Popcaan from Jamaica, his flow and lyrical flexibility helped me a lot in sharpening my craft. Not forgetting Rihanna, I need her vocal power in my album one day in the future. Drake can’t also miss from that list, talking of a guy with over 1.2 billion YouTube views, I love numbers.
Question: Which latest songs, videos, or mixtapes releases are currently available to your fans and where can they be heard?
Answer: About my recent projects, I have a 5 track Ep, Transmission EP. It is available on, SoundCloud, I-Tunes, Amazon, Mdundo, Apple Music, Tidal, Skizza, Moohk, Deezer and YouTube. under the a/c’s @Teezeh and @GrosspoolMusic
Question: Are you under a record label or an independent artist?
Answer: Currently, I’m an independent artist working with different producers who are affiliated with different recording studios.
Question: Is going Platinum or winning a Grammy important to you, and if you were forced to make only one choice, which of the two would you choose and why?
Answer: Both are very important. Going platinum is important to me. Winning a Grammy is important to my Career. I’ll always choose what’s important to me.
Question: Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
Answer: As a man I won’t say much of that but for the sake of those who have been supporting me and believing in the Teezeh brand, just know that According to what me and my team we’ve planned, Teezeh will be a household name in Kenya and Africa to the world just to start with. In Jesus’ name. Only God knows tomorrow. The world should just be ready for a lot from me coz already there is too much in store including some major key international collabos that I haven’t released yet.
Question: What in your opinion is the biggest barrier an artist like yourself, has to face and overcome, to gain any commercial success?
Answer: The media. media support. In this digital era, the media plays a very crucial role in the success of an artist especially an urban pop artist like myself. But since Media presence requires heavy capital and connections which is not an easy thing to have, it still remains one of the biggest barriers every urban pop artist has to face.
Question: Any advice to aspiring young Artists?
Answer: The earlier you find a way of making money with your music, the better.
Question: what’s your take or opinion on Gengetone?
Answer: First of all, what is this Gengetone that people are talking about. To my understanding, it’s just a style of music and Mejja has been singing that style of music ever since I knew him. It’s nothing new. Unless maybe they call it Mejjatone. The only new good thing am happy about it, is that a lot of youths singing that style can now put food on their table since currently its a trending style of music that has been accepted locally.
Question: In closing, tell us something about any projects and ideas you have in store or are already working on?
Answer: I have So much in store, I won’t say everything but just be aware I’m currently working on an album called SON OF OYUGIS 1 and the first single from it will be dropping later this month on 28th September. I’m also developing an entertainment enterprise called OYGO (OYUGIS ONLY) to help me and my people have a way of getting money out of our art. My fans should Expect more music, more shows and more products and merchandise from the Teezeh Brand.
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