Up-close with El Mukuka

HOUSE music will over the next five years become one of the most consumed genres on the Zambian music scene, says DJ El Mukuka.

The 26-year-old Zambian-Greek deejay and producer (full name Eleftherios Mukuka) says more Zambians seem to be opening up to the genre.

“It’s really a matter of exposing the public and in doing so educating them,” he says.

Since emerging on the music scene with the hit ‘Heart’ six years, Mukuka has continued to blaze the trial in ground-breaking house music. ‘Heart’ landed on the top ten charts in Denmark and won a Born n Bred Music Video Award in 2014.

He has gone on to release other avant-garde hits including ‘Getting there’, ‘Bottle of loneliness’ and ‘All I need’.

Mukuka adds that formal music training adds value to an artiste’s overall performance.

“Raw talent can take you far but refined talent can make you invincible,” he says.

He shares his thoughts here.

What you’ve been up to since the release of ‘All I Need’ last year? How has the single fared and have you released any other material since then?

Since the release of “All I Need” in 2018 I put out another single entitled “Weight of the Sun” and a remix of “Ire” by Nigerian musician Adekunle Gold. “All I Need” performed really well in Zambia and received excellent support from radio, becoming one of my most popular releases in the Zambian market thus far.

Are you currently engaged in any new projects?

Absolutely. I am working on several new projects at the moment – both original releases as well as remixes. My team and I have set some ambitious goals for this year so it should turn out to be quite a busy & productive one.

When you released ‘Heart’ a few years ago, you set out to pioneer house music in Zambia. How would you describe your progress so far?

The house music scene in Zambia has grown significantly since “Heart” came out almost 6 years ago. The growth has been slow but steady. Local DJ/producers, radio, TV, print media, blogs, venues and alcohol brands have all played a role in the growth of house music in Zambia. Fast forward to 2019, my goal remains the same and there is a lot more I want to do for Zambia and house music in general. My prediction is that over the next 5 years, house music will become one of the most consumed styles of music in the Zambian mainstream market. We will also see a lot more Zambian house music both domestically and internationally.

In your view, has the Zambian music industry embraced house music?

The growth of house music in Zambia hasn’t been seamless. It has taken the industry considerable effort to get to where we are today. Nevertheless, more and more Zambians seem to be opening up to the style. It’s really a matter of exposing the public and in doing so educating them.

What have been some of your most memorable performances thus far?

So far, I’d say the 3 most memorable shows of my career have been the 2014 Siavonga Music Festival, the 2017 Hashtag Color Festival in Kitwe and the 2018 Budweiser 360 Sunrise Festival in Maputo, Mozambique.

The crowds that attend your shows are among the most cosmopolitan one will find in Lusaka. Do you think your Zambian-Greek heritage plays any significance in this?

It is possible that my heritage has something to do with this. However, I think it’s more about the cosmopolitan nature of the music itself as well as the ambience my team and I strive to build around each one of my shows.

As a Berklee College of Music trained musician, how important do you feel it is for musicians and singers to get training in their craft?

I think it is extremely crucial for musicians (regardless of genre) to receive some sort of music training in order to fine-tune their craft. Raw talent can take you far but refined talent can make you invincible.

What excites you most about what you do? Song writing? Creating the music? Performing?

All aspects of my career excite me but I am the happiest when I’m in the studio and then on a festival stage playing my own songs and feeding off the energy of thousands of people.

Your dream collaboration: Who would it be with and why?

I think every couple of months my answer to this question would change. But for the moment, I’d say Charlie Puth. He is incredibly talented and one of the few pop musicians today who still makes rich and intricate music.

What can fans expect from El Mukuka in the near future?

A lot of new music and collaborations. I also intend to focus a lot more on exploring new avenues for fusion music within the realm of house music.

And what’s your message for upcoming artistes?

Be yourself. Discover who you are and what your unique message to the world is and have fun doing it. Also, live by the code of persistence and self-motivation.

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