Hailing from the capital of Kenya, Elani is a lovely band of three, comprised of Bryan Chweya, Maureen Kunga and Wambui. It’s not always that a band brings in a new brand of music and stays in the industry for long, but the amazing trio has managed to keep their art up and running since they came to be back in 2008. They’ve done amazing songs since then, like Jana Usiku and Milele.
They are simply amazing! It is evident from their most recent project, the song KooKoo which has won the hearts of Kenyans. It’s so surreal, well executed. The vocals from the girls are endearing! The video was done very well. The beauty was exceptional; you could see familiar scenes in the Nairobi environs of the CBD. I had a chat with the band and here’s what they had to say about their journey, as well as a lot you didn’t know about them!
Me: Bryan, you’re the only man in the band. Tell us a little about you and how your band formed, how long you guys have been in music.
Bryan: I am a musician, a singer, a songwriter, guitarist and an advocate of the high court of Kenya. I am a simple guy really. Nothing much to tell about me but I will say what stands out about me is my crazy passion for music. We met in 2008 at the Alliance Française and quickly became friends. Being friends and realizing that we shared a common passion for music, this brought us together and tightened our bond and Elani was born. We then started writing songs just for the fun of it and after writing a few songs, we soon started falling in love with what we created, and the people around us started calling us for shows and we have been together ever since.
Me: Maureen, tell us a little about you, the drive behind Elani; what is your band all about?
Maureen: I am a female vocalist in Elani and a lawyer awaiting admission to the bar of advocates also play the guitar love music to bits. Music is my everything. What drives me is this inexplicable passion that I have for music. Whenever I sing it makes me feel good and that’s it for me really.
Me: Wambui, Tell us a little about you and how the band’s music has been received.
Wambui: I am a female vocalist and also an Actuarial Scientist play the keys. Our music has been received well beyond our wildest expectations and it feels good to know that your music is being appreciated and received well out there. We have the best fans in the world (Team Elani) and we will never get tired of telling the world how amazing they are. We thank them for their continuous support and we love them.
Me: How is the musical landscape in Kenya and what do you feel should be worked on?
Bryan: The Kenyan music industry has grown and Kenyans are now constantly appreciating local artists unlike before. So very soon I foresee the Kenyan industry being able to get recognition in other music powerhouse industries Like South Africa, Nigeria and the rest of Africa
Me: With the loyal fans the band has amassed, how do you deal with stalkers personally?
Maureen: Stalkers will always be there but as we have said we have an amazing fans base who are not hard to handle.
Me: Other than music, what do else do you do?
Wambui: I graduated from the University of Nairobi with a degree in sciences but I am a full time musician.
Me: As seen in your music videos, you’ve chosen a rather unique approach to concepts which sparks a refreshing feel when someone listens to it. In the future, do you plan to change your style and maybe be wild like let’s say, Miley Cyrus?
Maureen: No not really…the way we write our music, we write from the heart and when an artist does that. It goes directly to that heart. We don’t see that ever changing.
Me: Who/what is/are your band influence(s) and inspiration?
Bryan: Life itself. What we sing about is what we go through in our lives every single day and I thing that is why it makes it easier for people to connect with our music.
Me: Last year during Arabs Got Talent 18 year old Mayoum Mahmoud from Egypt became the first veiled female rapper in the country, advocating for the rights of girls to access education and being empowered. Your band shows it. Given that recently in Nigeria there was an abduction of girls that has provoked international outcry from the likes of Michelle Obama, Sean Penn, Justin Timberlake, Keri Hilson and others, what can you say about gender equality your immediate community and the world at large? What needs to be done?
Wambui: The world needs to understand that we are equal. God says so and it is so. No one is superior than the other.
Me: Describe your fashion style
Bryan: Mine is simple…Look good feel good . So long as I like I buy.
Maureen: My style is comfortable, functional elegance.
Wambui: My style is how I feel when I wake up. If I feel pretty I dress pretty. If I feel gangsta I dress gangsta. If I feel sexy I dress sexy.
Me: What’s your favorite book and inspirational quote that keeps you going?
Maureen: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.
Me: What’s your favorite movie?
Bryan: Mandela the movie.
Me: What’s your favorite travel location?
Wambui: Anywhere nature is. It always takes my breathe away to see incredible beauty in animals and amazing scenery
Me: Any childhood memory that you can’t forget?
Bryan: (Adventure)…me and my pals riding our bikes to estates and places we had never been before. That was fun.
Me: Do you have any phobia?
Wambui: Heights and snakes
Me: Anything that your fans don’t know about you that you’d like to let them know?
Bryan: Music is our 8am-5pm job full time. Also they can subscribe to our YouTube channel–elanimuziki and also get to like our page on Facebook –Elani and twitter @elanimuziki and get any information that they would want including dates of shows, where and when?
Me: What are some of the challenges you’ve faced so far?
Maureen: Money money money. You need money to pay for a lot of things including studio time. But we are glad now we are able to afford to pay all these things debt free.
Me: What are your band prospects?
Wambui: We want to be the biggest band in Africa and a Grammy wouldn’t be bad to top this up.
Me: Any achievements so far?
Bryan: We won the Best Afro band category in a Competition held at the Kenya National Theatre.
Me: If you would do a collaboration today or in the near future, who would it be with and why?
Wambui: It would be nice to have a song with Davido, Wizkid, Beyonce, Usher…the list is endless.
Me: What are your hobbies and fun stuff?
Maureen: Reading and learning new things
Wambui: I am always on the Internet looking for new stuff. I love swimming too.
Bryan: Playing Football and swimming
Me: How about each of you talk of the situation in the country; are the youth doing enough in using their talents and skills to make a living? How do we address the issue of employment and underemployment since we’ve seen foreign companies come with their workers for instance Tech and Construction Companies from Asia?
Bryan: The youth are constantly pushing themselves and their talents as other avenues of self-employment and that a good thing because there is nothing so fulfilling as making a living out of what you love doing. The thought of unemployment is sad but these days times have changed people are creating avenues for themselves to make money instead of sitting there and waiting for someone to employ you. There should be more emphasis on the arts.
Me: There are lots of youth out there who watch you on television and really want to be like you; you’re a big inspiration. Mind sharing a word of advice with them?
Bryan: Always put God first in everything that you do and you shall reach for the stars Maureen: What you give is always what you get ….Give your 300% and you shall get 300% back Wambui: In life you will always have your chance so keep working hard and never give up!! NEVER!!!!!
We do wish the band the best in their plans to take over the global music scene and put our country on the map with their new sensational style of Afro pop You can follow Team Elani on their Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook pages for their latest updates on what they’re up to!