-Kahvinya singing in the background.-
FLOABS: Should I mention the context of where we’re doing this?
Vallerie Muthoni: Yeah sure sure.
How did you know J.Kali?
I’d always been a fan first of all, from the beginning. And then we kinda met a few times. Y’know, and then he followed my music and I followed him back. There’s a time – actually, at a very recent performance – we met and had a really intimate conversation where he really just advised me. I was very isolated. I was in a deep dark place and I wasn’t talking to people, but he was like “Yo, we’re talking before you leave,” and we sat on the grass.
So through the short experience I had with him, and now all these things I’m hearing: you’re seeing all the people who’ve shown up for him, you see his love. Sorry this a lot-
It’s fine, go on.
I’m so happy I met him at the time I did because he’s made an effect on so many people after his death. So many people who know “We have to do this for him.” It’s a beautiful thing to see.
Alright, onto you. Are you a singer or a rapper?
I really wanted to be a singer like Beyonce…is that Terrianne?
-Terrianne Iraki on stage singing “I was here by Beyonce.”-
-We listen to Terrianne for a few minutes.-
Sorry, where were we?
Yeah I started out wanting to be a singer, and then I started rapping and people loved it. And it’s fun, it’s easy for me to do honestly, so I’m both. I embrace them both.
And when did you start singing or rapping?
Girl, I’ve been singing since I could talk.
Rapping, I’d always do poetry in high school. I’d do little raps in high school, and then I toa-d No Chances and I was like “Oh, people are fucking with this shit. I’m so dope.”
Taking no chances.
Taking no goddamn chances.
Can say that’s when you started taking this rap thing seriously?
Yup. No chances. And then Brown Suga came and I was like “For sure”
For sure you’re a rapper.
This is your first full length project?
How many tracks?
5. It was gonna be 8, but we made it 5.
You cut it?
Quality over quantity. I had a conversation with MDQ a few hours ago, it just helped me understand and see some things.
Are you excited / nervous?
I am! I think so.
What’s the one message you want to be the takeaway from your album?
There’s a song at the end of the album called ‘End Rape Culture’. It’s a story but just something that’s happening so often and something that frustrates me.
I could never articulate how I feel. I was never the type to post on Twitter or Facebook. Music was just the way that I could get that message out there. It’s one that makes you think a little bit.
Tell us about your songwriting process.
The minute I hear a beat; the first 30 seconds of a beat I’ll know if I like it. Singing wise – I kind of first freestyle a little bit, see where it goes; whatever vibe I go with, and then from there I can just stop and say “Okay I like where this is going” and write it down.
I use paper to write my songs ’cause a lot of artists these days actually use their notepads.
Yeah, on their phones.
Also I was on Kabambe life for very long so I didn’t have much of an option.
What producers did you work with?
Kahaelbeats. Fvzzkill. MANU-
I think that’s him.
He’s has so many aliases, I’m like “MANU pick one dammit.” It’s a five track EP, it’s not much. And then one international producer.
Do you remember your first live show, and how that felt?
Does high school count?
No, that doesn’t count. I’ll talk about the first one after school, when I finished highschool and I knew I wanted to take this music thing seriously. It was at Alchemist, of course. That was my first proper live show with a band. I took my friends – I was studying music production at ADMI.
You did ADMI?
Yes, for two years I did a diploma in music production. I had friends who could play guitar and drums and I was like, “Ay, let’s do this.” It was actually The Lounge, remember YLM’s [Yellow Light Machine] event The Lounge that used to happen every so often?
It was really dope. I enjoyed myself. I loved it. It’s usually when I’m on stage, I’m comfortable. I’m not nervous anymore.
What’s the most recent “Ohmigod is this real life” moment?
I’m so overwhelmed with happiness because I just got featured in True Love Magazine. And Colors did a feature on Brown Suga. And the Freshman HBR list.
So you’ve basically made it. Why are you still hustling with the rest of us?
Manze no. Until the money comes, then I’ll start saying I’ve made it. Until then, I’m still a struggling artist.
What inspires you?
I don’t want to die doing something I don’t like, and I love performing so if I can get to a place where I’m no longer stressing, sijui fuata-ing who for money, and I’m just performing & traveling around the world. That’s what motivates me. That’s what inspires me. That’s what I’m doing it for so I can get to that place. Does that make sense?
It makes a lot of sense. Who are your biggest influences?
Beyonce. Anderson .paak. Michael Jackson. Masego.
It will happen. And you’ll find him mysteriously missing after his show. Don’t ask questions.
I will not ask. We’ll know where he is.
Burna Boy. Childish Gambino.
Muthoni the Drummer Queen. Blinky Bill.
Cool. Any last words?
The Wavey Soul on Mookh.
Vallerie Muthoni is a Kenyan songstress and rapper. You can purchase/stream her debut EP The Wavey Soul here:
Buy: Wavey Soul on Mookh.