Mumala Maloba On Being A Millennial Artist Juggling Law and Music in the Kenyan Creative Economy

BY HARUN MOMANYI FOR KUNG'ARA STORE


On top of being a soul musician, Mumala is a Law graduate from Middlesex University (Mauritius campus) and she recently relocated back to Kenya to start off her legal career. While studying Law, Mumala recorded her upcoming debut album dubbed ‘MUMALA UNVEILED’. She has great interest to get back on stage and perform as she promotes her upcoming album. We sat down with her to understand how she successfully manages to balance a legal career and an artistic one in music. Read below:

Mumala, you started singing at a tender age. Music is definitely your calling, not only from your vocal ability but also the way you’ve been consistently performing over the years and fine‐tuning your craft. What has kept you going all this time?


My love for music has always been present and constant, so despite where I would be I’d always find myself writing music and performing. Although I haven’t been as consistent as I would like to now that I’m a full-time lawyer, I still find myself gracing the stage one in a while.

You cite your inspiration as Alicia Keys, Atemi and other soul artists. Soul is certainly a genre that’s close to you. There are many genres you could experiment with, from pop to Afrobeats. Why did you decide to settle for soul and where do you see the future of East African/ African music going?

I feel that the genre chose me as I have an old soul. My music is mostly deep, message-oriented and ballad-like though I’m open-minded therefore I wouldn’t say that I only do soul music as also I sing R ‘n’ B. I have experimented with different genres in my upcoming album… so just prepare for an eargasm. African Music is not only going places; it has arrived. It’s largely played in the diaspora, especially West and South African music. The support and recognition is definitely present. It’s great to see producers use African instruments to make beats. It won’t be long until African music fully takes over.

Most entertainers state that the key to success in the industry is to “get yourself a good lawyer.” This definitely works very well when it comes to dealing with intellectual property. Since you studied law, what are some of the instances that it has come to your advantage as an artist? What are the basics that every artist should learn about music?

Contracts, Contracts and Contracts! Being a lawyer has its advantages as I now assess legal paperwork from different angles which enables me to have a clear picture of what I’m about to get into. I think that most artists should learn to have an eye for detail and read the fine print. If one just can’t do that please seek advice as it goes a long way. I’ve done consultations with some artists who would be shortchanged or shorthanded at events based on the fact that they were not observant.

If you were to collaborate with an artist/ band, who would it be and why? Which music festival do you aspire to perform at one day and what’s your take on “support” in the East African creative economy?

Internationally it would be Ledisi and Jill Scott. Those women are just phenomenal. Locally It would be Nyashinski, his music derives purpose which is what I like when songwriting. I’d love to perform at the Cape town Jazz Festival. The Festival has featured some of the greatest soul singers. Wow… it would be awesome to play there. I think that the support in the creative economy is present. However it varies from Uganda and Tanzania and that of Kenya. It is a bit wanting back in Kenya but a step at a time. It’s definitely improving just at a slower pace than other East African countries.

 

Where’s your favorite hangout spot while in Mauritius and what’s something you’d like people (Kenyans) to know about the beautiful island?

Mauritius is like my second home. Living there is great and places I’d recommend are Tamarind and Grand Baie. My favorite hang out spot is Big Willy’s; from Live Music to great cocktails and football bars. Yap… definitely a great place to enjoy.


What’s your current and biggest challenge as a musician, and how do you hope to overcome it? What systems do you feel need to be in place for you to overcome these challenges?

Like most people it’s mainly challenging finding a balance. I’m trying to find a balance between my legal career and my music career and it’s tricky. But I’m finding a rhythm I can settle into so..... Let’s see how it works out.

You’ve been invited to perform at a concert outside of Africa alongside various international acts. You feel that you need to represent Kenyan/ African designers and stylists. What are some of the outfits and accessories that you’d shop for from the Kung’ara online store and which Kenyan stylist would you pick to dress you?

I’m a girly girl so dresses always do it for me. Kwesh dresses are not only elegant but fit my personality so I’d definitely go for that. For accessories Kipato Unbranded jewellery always complements. I’ve witnessed Brian Babu’s magical work and transformations, and I’d love to work with him in the future.

What are some of the music projects that you’ve been working on lately and would love your audience to know about?

I’m currently working on wrapping up my upcoming debut album. It’s not been easy as it’s been changing its creative course but it’s almost done and I can’t wait to share it with you all.