By Vitus-Gregory Gondwe
One of Malawi’s top musicians Skeffa Chimoto reached the scaling height on the ladders of the musical artists that matter in Malawi with his album ‘Nabola Moyo’ that took the country by storm and earned him a place amongst the counted.
It is not as if Chimoto had never graced the corridors where musicians strut; long before the famous ‘Nabola Moyo’, Skeffa had tried his hands on an album called ‘Wekha’, which did not make any mark at all. The fame that ‘Nabola Moyo’ had spawned provided the first album some form of visibility.
While enjoying the rollercoaster ride that ‘Nabola Moyo’ had provided, Chimoto was all intent to show Malawians that he did not become a musician by mistake. The best way to send this message across was to put together another album, which he titled ‘Tisawanyodze’.
Ask anyone to comment about the album, all they will tell you about this album; this latest album is that it is a flop. Some that ZBS online talked to, even say they did not know that Skeffa’s name had tried to add to his accolades more credit.
ZBS online took Skeffa to task. Why did he produce an album ‘Nabola Moyo’ that is a household name and only to release another one ‘Tisawanyodze’ which is discrediting his previous decorated work?
Chimoto says when an album is called a flop; usually it has nothing to do with lowering standards of the production but it sometimes could be a matter of tastes.
“What happens is that when you are recording an album without any previous work, there is nowhere or nothing to compare you with, no one is expecting you and know what you can offer so you record without any problems,” he says.
He says when you are, however, recording another album, the biggest problem that you face is that there is a continuous development-taking place in music consumers as well as in musicians and this is always happening at different levels.
He philosophises that musicians can change, depending on new things that they have understood and learnt and they can up the gear by changing the kind of music listeners know and associate with the musicians.
“Somehow, when a musician develops at a faster rate than consumers, then they stop understanding what the musician is playing and they stop patronising his or her music,” he said.
“They do not know where you are taking them to, because based on your earlier works, they expect that you will take them to a familiar direction; may be there could be change of the music tempo, style and approach to your lyrical arrangement,” he said.
Chimoto says somehow a musician is influenced by a kind of music that you are listening to which helps you to grow musically and in this growth you leave behind your fans.
He was aware though of the dangers of following your heart as a musician and not meeting the demand from consumers.
“Consumers have their right; they have their money and judgement to go for the kind of music that is pleasant to their ears at a particular time,” Chimoto intones.
“One other thing is that consumers have is the freedom to chose what kind of music they want to listen to and sometimes they can ignore your music and opt for something else which even upon your assessment with your work you discover that your music is far much better than what the consumers rush for,” he says.
He also has lessons on the failure that his latest album has encountered compared to the success that his second album achieved.
“The poor showing that my latest album has demonstrated has taught me a lesson; it is a drawback that I took positively as it helped me to chart the way forward because I have to suit the tastes of consumers,” he says.
Skeffa says, musicians live by the money of consumers and besides his growth in music he still has to tow the consumer line. “My music career survives on the love and patronisation of consumers,” he says.
Chimoto also has to manage his time effectively because he is a member of the Ministry of Health band besides owning his own band called ‘Real Sounds’. He has recently married and at the same time, he has to ensure his presence at home.
But he says since in the Health Band they work in weekdays, it is easy for him to work with his band over the weekends.
“Sometimes when there are activities for the ministry of health say here in Mzuzu then I bring the band along because whatever the case, activities for the health ministry are always conducted during the day so we utilise the night time with the band,” he said.
Time spent with his wife is not necessarily enough but he says it is suitable.
“Marriages do not come by accident; you take your time before you engage into a married life, I believe my wife is aware that this is my job and I started doing this long before we fell in love. She has a better understanding which is far ahead of anyone else knows where we get our daily bread,” he says.
Chimoto says his wife understands his situation although truly there is very little time that he spends at home.
“But well, these are some of the realities of life,” he philosophises again.