One of the artistes who joined the music industry in year 2018 is Lamu real name Ahlam Ismail . ‘Cross Roads’ was her debut song and like they always say, “the rest is history”.
Considering music as a calling right from the time she was a little girl born and raised in Soroti district in Eastern Uganda, she is comfortable categorizing the music she sings under ‘Afro Pop’, ‘RnB’ and ‘Afro Urban’ genres.
She is currently signed under a record label called Trend Setters Africa where she released her first ever Extended Play (EP) titled ‘No Pressure’ earlier in the year.
Although Lamu still rates herself 1/10 musically, she has from the debut, been able to garner an encouraging fan base among the school going youth and corporates.
Chano8’s Habre Muriisa had an exclusive interview with her and here is her story.
Chano8: To start with; who exactly is Lamu? Where was she born and raised?
My real names are Ahlam Ismail. I was born and raised in Soroti, Uganda and I moved to Kampala for high school only in 2009. I’ve lived part time in Tanzania as well. I’m East African having mixed origins from across the region.
Chano8: You began doing music professionally in 2018 with a song called ‘Cross Roads’, share with us the experience of working on your first song right from the start.
The song was written from personal experience and after recording it, I released it on Sound cloud and a few other websites for free download. I didn’t know much of what I know today about the music business but the reviews were great and it was actually after that song release that I decided to go all in with music as a career.
Chano8: Most debut songs always have an intimate personal story to the artiste, what is the story behind ‘Cross Roads’ and what inspired it?
Crossroads is about two lovers that are at a point in their relationship (a relationship that is so strained and quite toxic) where they have to decide if they are to either continue together in that journey or to move on separate paths. I was writing about pain and regret and how I was wishing I had left the person behind instead of continuing to pursue this journey with them. I eventually moved on from that relationship but that song is still very special to me mostly because it takes me back to some influential moments in my life.
Chano8: Do you consider music a calling for you right from childhood or it is something you picked interest in along the way as you grew up?
I believe music was a calling from childhood because of my interest in singing and song writing. I remember collecting my friends from as young as I was 7 years of age to rehearse and perform for visitors at home and around the neighborhood. Although I did not take it up from the start as a career choice, I eventually did begin to pursue music as such only a few years ago.
Chano8: How was growing up as a young girl for you in relation to music?
I sang with my siblings and I wrote songs with my friends and my big brother. It was a fun childhood. But I mostly focused on school and my education because I intended on taking Medicine (at first vet nary and then switched to human medicine in secondary) as a career.
Chano8: Do you write your own music or do you have writers you work with?
I write most of my music but I do sometimes out-source some writers especially to help me write Luganda, which is a language that I’m not too familiar and comfortable with yet. That, especially if we are to compare it to Swahili and English which I do a lot of the writing myself.
Chano8: How do you describe your style of music in terms of genre(s)?
I would box myself if I had to under Afro Pop, RnB and Afro Urban music genres.
Chano8: What message do you have for upcoming female artistes who look up to you?
You don’t have to give up sex/ give sexual favors to people in the industry to make it and to prosper. Stay strong and work hard, work smart and persevere through the ups and downs. Also, you dress how you like to dress and present yourself in the most genuine way you can because a lot of the women doing music are doing the exact same thing and a few people are being original.
Keep around people that are helping build you and not the ones that are influencing you negatively. Stay sexy and strong and educate yourself in the arts that you are doing and music business so you’re wiser on decision making and you’re not played. I could go on and on but for now, next question.
Chano8: We must say that since 2018 you have garnered an encouraging fan base especially among the school going youth and corporates, how do you handle the fame?
I try to stay positive and I try not to forget my goals and my dreams and you know the things that keep me going. I’m humble all the time but I’m also a Diva when the time is appropriate.
Chano8: Have you ever faced any kind of sexual harassment in your field of work? If yes, how did you deal with it?
I have. At the time I didn’t realize that it was so, and I also mostly blamed myself for it, but now, I’ve educated myself on these matters and I’m still doing so. Today I stand against rape, sexual harassment and sexual violence. I talk about it and try to educate others too. It’s a very delicate subject but one should never be afraid to speak up about it; it is important that we do. The biggest problem is rape culture that continues to have society blame the victims instead of persecuting the abusers. My biggest problem was not even realizing that I was being harassed and abused however much it didn’t sit right with me, I continued to bush it off but no more! I surround myself now with and mostly work with people that respect me as a woman and as a human being.
Chano8: ‘Something About You’ is considered by many to be the song that sold you. What is your take?
‘Something About You’ is my break through song and I cannot even deny it. It gave me something and everything I needed then to show as proof to others that I am an artiste that needs to be taken seriously and supported as well and it worked haha!
Chano8: Have you at some point ever considered quitting music? If yes, why?
Yeah. I think everybody has bad days where things just feel like burdens too heavy to carry, where you self-doubt and you lose sight of the positive. But I’m still here, I haven’t quit.
Chano8: What have been your best and worst experiences in the music industry so far? Mention them
There are so many memories, I cannot even begin to pick…okay… Releasing my debut single through Empawa Africa, performing at Blankets and Wine, Shorts na Leesu and Nyege Nyege, meeting and working with artists like Nonso Amadi and Jinmi Abduls from Nigeria etcetera. My worst would be performing at bars, I hate doing that, I hope I grow to love it though because it’s kind of part of the job for me.
Chano8: How do you rate yourself musically so far?
I rate myself 1/10 because I strongly believe that my potential is so great and I’m only just beginning to unravel it. Before I die, I intend to reach at least 8.5 and that for me is my goddess level if that makes any sense to you. My point is, I still have a lot to achieve and I intend on doing so.
Chano8: Which artistes locally and internationally do you listen to?
I listen to my friends here in Ug that is, J Wats, Rey Macc, Ritchie, Boris, Bantu Vibes because their music is actually so good. I listen to a lot of other artists too locally and internationally.
Chano8: You recently released the ‘No Pressure’ EP. Congratulations. Tell us more about it (who wrote some of the songs and where was the production done)
‘No Pressure’ is an Extended Play I released recently in July. It has seven songs of which I feature Mugaba, Jinmi Abduls and Shawn Maine. The project’s executive producers are Rey Macc and I. Rey Macc produced most of the songs as well as Boris Kintu who is from Trendsetters Africa too. Ritchie a.k.a Melanin Boy wrote song number 7 titled ‘ONE’. The EP is composed of love songs, heart break, and sex. The title ‘No Pressure’ is inspired from my own experiences; feeling like I am under so much pressure trying to do my best in life. So I like to say ‘No Pressure.’
Chano8: How long did it take you to release this EP and what challenges did you face?
It’s actually been years in the making. I had to put it on hold so many times and I had a lot to learn in the music business but it all came together eventually. My Team at Trendsetters helped make it happen, my friends supported as well and I am grateful. Also shout out to Mckenzie
Chano8: Apart from ‘No Pressure’ which other EPs or albums have you released?
No Pressure is my first EP/Album.
Chano8: Apart from music, what else do you do (are you like employed?)
I work mostly with charity organizations. I’m an influencer and public speaker. I write scripts and hope to get into the film industry officially soonest.
Chano8: Is Lamu married, dating, seeing someone or single for now?
I was single and it was fun I guess. I’m currently madly in love with a good man. For the future reference, I’m open to marriage (so you can also hit me up if you know someone that is husband material! LOL)
Chano8: Away from music, what is your message to the youth especially the young girls?
Darling, you are beautiful, and you are smart and darling, your dreams are valid. You are important and you need to realize that and believe that and you need to chase after your dreams and you need to achieve your goals and you can do it all. For what it’s worth, I will tell you this girl child, that you are loved.