The Kenyan Music industry is growing and emerging new talents are coming up and taking the industry by storm. In our exclusive segment of One on One, we get a chance to host Liboi a Kenyan Singer/Songwriter making African Contemporary Music with a blend of popular African genres.
Liboi claims to draw her musical inspiration from her life experience as she recalls her first musical project Voices in my Head which was released on August 2022.
Liboi also talks to us about her recently released album State of Being an EP album that comprises of 6 tracks that highlight different states of human beings as they search for paradise and freedom. She also informs us of the creative process while recording the album as she recalls it to be an interesting journey filled with fun moments.
2022 has been Transformational for the artist as she got to release her first project and now her debut EP Album State of Being. Liboi hopes to share more of her music with her fans and even give live experience as she continues to expand her fan base.
The EP is available across all music streaming platforms.
Kindly share something brief about Liboi?
Liboi is a Kenyan Singer/Songwriter making African Contemporary Music; traditional/ folk music with a blend of popular African genres. She uses her creative ability to express human experiences. She is a strong proponent of social change, culture, and mental wellness. She is also a filmmaker, journalist, and a project coordinator.
Why did you choose Liboi as your Artist stage name?
My full name is Sharon Laura Ong’ayo Liboi. In as much as it is a unique African name, I intentionally chose it because it links me to my family, more so my father who plays a huge role in who I am as an artist because of the music he used to play back when he was a DJ.
Who or what are some of your main inspirations?
Growing up in an informal settlement Korogocho Slum, both good and bad things were happening. Young people were trying their best to get out of crime and poverty, but this was mostly difficult as extra-judicial killings were on the rise. The mainstream media at the time covered the stories of our environment with biasness as it presented our neighborhood badly and wrongly. I felt I was misrepresented, and underrepresented, and my voice was not heard. At that time, My father was a DJ and his African taste greatly influenced my creativity subconsciously. This motivated me to start writing music that talked about life, love, and social injustices as a way of speaking out and finding freedom in my own way which was through art. So I draw inspiration from my experiences and other people’s.
When did you start putting music out? Can you recall the first project that you released?
The first project I released was courtesy of a girl band I was a part of called ‘Eidalla’. We did a song called Aluoro, a Luo word meaning afraid. However, the band broke up soon after and I decided to explore music as a solo artist. I recorded some music that never made it to the public domain due to a record label that denied me the album. It was in 2022 August when I released my first ever project, ‘Voices in my Head’. A single that talks about silence and voice while addressing mental health.
Speaking of music projects, congratulations on releasing your new album State of Being. Briefly tell us something about the album?
Thank you very much. State of Being immerses you on an African journey of reflections in search of paradise and freedom, all from a woman’s point of view. It comprises 6 tracks that highlight the different states we are in as human beings in our search for paradise and freedom. It was inspired by a forerunner film project dubbed Feminism Matters, the third paradise concept by an Italian artist Michelangelo Pistoletto that I explored while in Rome early this year and my personal struggles at finding my voice and defining freedom in my own terms as I have just come from a time of chaos.
Why did you choose to name it State of Being?
Since the EP highlights the human nature and experience, I chose to work with the name because as human beings we keep changing our states. There are times we are happy, sad, motivated, broken, greedy, etc. hence the name, State of being.
What was it like while recording and doing production for the album? Was there pressure to deliver or did the creative process?
Working on State of Being was quite an interesting journey that was filled with moments of creative exploration, brainstorming sessions, fun moments with the team, and just casual hangouts to connect and be in the same vibration, and a lot of time spent in the studio. I had to re-write some of the songs because some were old songs and they had to fit into the theme. Personally, when I write, I do not listen to other music as a way of blocking noise but again it somehow gives me writer’s block because there’s no motivation. This slowed down the process but it eventually happened. There was no pressure to deliver because I wanted to work on it without staying with it for too long. However, challenges like writer’s block, finances, and bringing the right people that I wanted to work with on board, prolonged the process. In the end, I worked with many creatives who are now very good friends. They made the whole process quite enjoyable, a learning curve for me, and very beautiful filled with fun memories.
Was anyone else involved in the creation of the album?
There is a friend of mine whom I met at an artist residency in Italy called Wakio Mzenge. She is a Kenyan Voice over/ stage and screenplay actor. She was featured in Freedom, the last track. I also worked with Modest Chabari who did the sound engineering, Evans Komora who did the strings, Eric Mwangangi who did Percussions, Jaydee Mwenesi who played bass guitar, and Angie Wambura who did additional vocals, Shikkiey who produced the foleys. I also had a visual team that comprised of Photographers Leyla Jeyte from Somali and Wango Alfred, Koi. Incidence who did the styling and Otis who worked on the cover arts. I honestly wouldn’t have done it all alone. These guys are just the A-team.
What was the most challenging aspect while coming up with the album?
Facing writer’s block before hitting the studio. It became worse that it spilled over to the recording sessions when initially, the plan was to write first then hit the studio. So I ended up doing some things concurrently. Resources were a major challenge as well. In Kenya, being a creative is not an easy task financially. There is no standard pay for creatives, there are no policies to change that or even make their work easier. Talk of the over and above licenses, Intellectual property processes and how much they cost, and even the challenges in the industry where promoters and event organizers just make it extremely harder. I got lucky because I got help from family and friends, and collaborated with artists who shared the same vision as mine.
Is there a hidden meaning in any of your music?
I mostly use objects or figurative language to metaphorically refer to something. This makes my music very introspective but in a way that can be interpreted differently and quite literally.
You’ve gotten to perform on different musical stages. What’s your process for dealing with performance anxiety?
Oh Wow! I cannot say that I have completely done away with stage freights but I can say that I have learned different ways of handling it. There are times when performing barefoot calms me down, sometimes I just compose myself and chill backstage with the team to have our energies in sync, while preparing well takes away any worries. Living in the moment also helps.
What would you say is your dream venue to perform at?
I have always been looking forward to the day I will play at Sauti za busara, Ongala, Bagamoyo, and Roskilde festivals. I have applied at a few but to no avail. Man’s not gonna give up because I believe one day I will make it to those stages.
As we wind the year how would describe 2022 in one word?
Would you have any advice for would-be artists or songwriters wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Do you! Be you! There is no right way of doing things and don’t wait for the right time because there is no such thing. Let the right time find you on the move.
What’s next for Liboi? Should we expect new music/video releases?
I have so much in store for you guys and am excited about it. More music, collaborations, and even live experiences. Guys just have to be on the lookout.
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