\\ Interview with Rwandan artist Angell Mutoni

She’s a poet, rapper, singer and all, but prefers to go by just an artiste. The Seedling withers

She has been on the fore of advocating for the women and development, her musical adventures are inspired by some of the best acts ‘with soul’ and her own father whom she fondly speak of. She recently released her EP, ‘Seedling’. The 4-track EP, as she describes it, speaks to her journey and growth in music. We spoke to the artist, the awesome act had this to say:

Afroway:  Hi Angell hope you keeping well…

Angell: I am good thank you! Hope you guys are well as well.

Afroway: How’s life taking you in Rwanda?

Angell: Rwanda is good. I love it but I am trying to slowly make my move towards you guys in Nairobi. For several reasons, but mostly because I want or need a bit of a change of scenery for a little while. We shall see how that all goes though, nothing is for sure yet.

Afroway: Tell us a bit about Angell Mutoni, how do you describe yourself?

Angell: Well, Angell Mutoni is a dreamer and passionate music lover. I am your typical artist, doing my best to achieve the goals and dreams I set for myself, in the most honest way I can for myself first, but for my people as well. I am a Poet-rapper/singer-songwriter. Although I just prefer the term Artist, because there is so much more I would love to do in the near or far future.

Afroway: You have an EP out, ‘Seedling’, how has the reception been?

Angell: The reception has been quiet interesting. I sing a lot more than I usually do on this EP and I think a lot of the people that have been following me for a while have noticed the growth in my voice, which has been mentioned a lot. It’s a good thing to hear that people can tell I am evolving musically. There has been a lot of love coming from outside of the continent as well, which is nice.

Afroway:  Would you share with us the experience you had while putting together the EP

Angell: Well, this EP was initially actually meant to be recorded and released in 2016, but life came in the way and that didn’t happen. So it had been prepared for a while. I had the concept and a few of the writings ready, but recording had proved to be very difficult. I only started to record in 2017 where by then, I had enough songs to choose from and actually create the project.  It was a tough process in the sense where, I was working on songs I no longer really felt attached to, which can happen sometimes, but it was important for me to release something because it had been a long time. This is mainly why I chose to release just 4 songs. I wanted to slowly get my groove back and dive in fully right after releasing the EP (which I have been doing). Long story short, the EP had been a long time coming and I was very relieved when it did come. 

Afroway:  Why the title ‘Seedling’?

Angell: I chose this title because it metaphorically represents what I am now, whether as a simple human being or an artist. I am a young plant still developing; my music is a young plant still developing. Seedling represents my journey as I grow from the ‘seed’ that I was a few years ago. I still have a lot to learn and experience and I feel like I have come at a point in my life where I accept this and want to let things flow the way they must. It’s about my growth as person and musically and how I want to take my time with this growth. Something like that hahaha

Afroway: How do you personally define your music?

Angell: My music generally is a mixture of many themes and genres, however the ones that are the most visible at the moment are hiphop-soul-rnb. Like I said, I don’t like to limit or box myself into one category, because I have a very eclectic taste in music. I am always ready to experiment and try new things. I believe there are so many possibilities when it comes to music. 

Afroway:  Let’s go back…when did you start developing artistically?

Angell: I grew up in a musical family, so I think I’ve had the artistic gene in me from birth haha…. But my personal development really began around 2011 in my last years of high school when I started reciting my poetry at a local poetry event  Spoken Word Rwanda that happened every month, which is where I got to see and speak to like-minded people that opened my mind in many ways. I eventually linked up with some school mates of mine Mike Kayihura & Darkecy now going by Kanaka, who were-are also musicians and had formed a sort of collective that allowed us to explore and create music, underground. They became great inspirations for me. I gained the confidence to pursue my music journey by just being around them and witnessing all the possibilities that were there. It wasn’t until 2013 however, that I worked on my debut solo mixtape that the journey really took off. The rest is history!

Afroway: Alright, so around what age or time did you feel like, it was the right for you to play or perform for people?

Angell: So, although I grew up around an artistic family, my dad is a musician, I never shared my desire to become a performer until later on in life. I kept it to myself from the age of around 10 years old. I always knew it was something I wanted to do and I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. It has always been a dream of mine and sometimes I can’t believe I actually went through with it haha… It makes me proud.

Afroway: You are from a musical family, how has this shaped you as an artist?

Angell: Honestly, being from a musical family has allowed me to be who I want to be in this music world. Because my father has been through it and knows that the only way is to be yourself and enjoy what you do, I have never felt the family pressures of having to follow other paths. I am grateful to have been raised by a free spirited father that believes in me and that supports my every move. This has really allowed me to explore my own artistry the way I want to and discover in depth and in my own way, what music is to me. Although I believe this is an ongoing journey. 

Afroway:  When making music do you have one listener in the back of your head, or a crowd?

Angell:  This is a great question. I used to have a couple of listeners in my head actually. Including like my friends and family. But recently I have had other artists in mind. As in artists I don’t even know personally. I always find myself thinking, what would Syd the Kid do? I don’t always like it, but when it happens I allow it to. However, I am trying not to let those listeners in the back of my head take over my creation process, but sometimes it helps. 

Afroway: Do you sometime feel some kind of disconnect with your fans? In terms of what they would expect, and what you are offering, how do you handle this?

Angell: Well,  I’m not so sure if I’d say I feel a disconnect, because for the fans that really do hear me, they always understand where I’m coming from and it’s easy to connect. However, there are times when I find myself thinking about how I can connect better and more with a wider variety of people and this is where my challenge is. I feel like I’m still figuring this out, but I definitely try not to let it get to me too much. Right now, I know that my past self hasn’t offered enough to the fans as they would expect and I’m working on it. I think I can say that this year felt for me, is my personal debut in all aspects of the word.

Afroway: What would your listeners expect next? Perhaps a new album?

Angell:  I am working on several projects.  A lot more collabos than usual, which is very exciting. I don’t really like to divulge my plans anymore because sometimes they don’t pan out in the time that you expected them to. So let me just say, things are cooking. Things are happening.

Afroway:  If you had an actor play you in a movie, who would he or she be?

Angell: This is a hard question. I think I’d say Issa Rae. We look nothing alike or whatever, but I feel like she could easily act out my weirdness and awkwardness. I see a lot of myself in her “Insecure” character so yeah. It could be her or Quinta B. 

Afroway:  What’s your view on the Rwandan and African music scene? What is your opinion of the music industry, what do you think is not working?

Angell: The Rwandan scene is evolving. It has come quite a long way for sure, but it is still very far as compared to our neighboring countries. Most of it of course is due to our history. I think, however, that this is the time to really nurture the industry and push it further. What we really lack and that I think puts us back, is the diversity in genre distribution. We don’t have that kind of competitive spirit yet and people do not know how important the music scene or industry can be-although they are starting to. The good thing that I have noticed is that music is beginning to be a common activity in schools and such. It is no longer just about music club but more about music education which is absolutely fantastic. I think in the years to come, or at least I hope, music in Rwanda will have expanded and spread across the continent. As for music in Africa, I think Africa is in style right now. Everybody is excited about Africa musically and artistically and it’s exciting to us. 

|Afroway

Tweet: @AngellMutoniRW@afrowayonline

*This Interview first appeared on Afroway Magazine check it out below:

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