Interview: I dream of being a Grammy nominee – Omani Reign

July 09, 2020

Barely a year after she recorded her first song, Omani Reign is riding the airwaves with her songs and video, “Tujoge”, “Tujoge remix” (with Kavali King and Nutty Neithan), and “Omwana womuloodi”.

The Clan spoke to her

Tell us a bit about your background?

I am a Ugandan by birth. I was born and raised in Kampala. I’m the last child among four. I joined university but I haven’t yet graduated.

When did you decide that you wanted to be a musician?

It took me years to decide to become a musician because my family found being a musician, especially a secular one, ironic. But in July last year, I entered the studio for the first time. I will be making a year in the music industry this month.

Who were some of your early musical influences growing up?

Growing up, I was always fascinated by American music. I liked Pink,Missy Elliot, Britney Spears, Aaliyah, Beyonce, EVE and others. My love for music began as early as six years old.

How would you describe your sound?

I would describe my sound as ‘wavy’ because it is a cool and new sound in Uganda.

What lessons has the industry taught you so far?

This industry has taught me a bunch of lessons, some being; Luganda is the most acknowledged language to use while making your craft, especially if your goal is to go commercial.

Secondly, making friends in the business and getting connections is one of the basic requirements for an upcoming artist and last but not least, I have learnt that where there is a will, there is a way.

What’s your happiest moment, so far, in your musical journey?

The most exciting moment in my musical journey is when my song “Omwana womuloodi” played on one of Uganda’s leading and most watched television shows, for the third time. I was home watching and boom, I see myself. Damn. I was so happy.

How did you link up with Zagang, with whom you’re affiliated

I met Kavali King for the first time at a studio in Ntinda. He had come to talk to the guy I was working with, then, as my mentor. He is a well known hip hop video director. So I met Kavali and he got to listen to some of the songs I had done. He also played me some of his and Zagang’s, and I was really glad that somebody had such good music. 

I wanted to make that kind of ‘free-will’ music. I wanted to be able to do the kind of music that I feel deep inside of me, and not the dictated style of music that Ugandans are used to. To cut the story short, after a while, when I was no longer attached to my mentor who I mentioned earlier, I was asked by Kavali to become part of the Zagang movement, and that’s how I became Zagang.

How did the song “Tujoge”, and later the remix with Nutty Neithan, come about?

Well, “Tujoge” was the song that confirmed me as a Zagang member. I remember the day we made that song with Kavali. We were listening to beats because I wanted to do my very first song with extremely no dictatorship and alas, we found the beat. I told him, “that’s it. That’s the beat,” and I immediately came up with the hook. The rest is history now.

How the remix came about is really amazing to me. We had gone to perform at Baristos in Kamwokya and I performed “Tujoge”. Little did I know that Nutty Neithan had caught the vibe. He reached out to us and said he would love to do a remix for the song, and I can’t tell you how blessed I felt.

What inspired the song “Omwana omuloodi”, and its video?

After “Tujoge”, people wanted to hear a solo project from me and I had the “Omwana womuloodi” song in my archives. I was watching Grenade’s “Olimba” song in which he said, “atte simwana wamulodi, ono teyazalibwa mubalodi.” I was inspired by that line. And so I created “Omwana womuloodi”. It took me a couple of months to voice because the person I was working with never paid attention to the song. He wanted something Ugandans are used to. So when I left him, I still loved my song and wanted to do it. When I got a chance, finally, I couldn’t resist and I  voiced my masterpiece. 

One thing I might call a strength, which I am thankful to God for, is that every song that I write, I have a visual picture for it. So the “Omwana Womuloodi” video was inspired by the urban Nigerian singer Joeboy’s “Baby” video. I did not want something exactly like his, but my inspiration came from that video. I had a written script for my video but because of the budget, very many scenes were not able to be in the video. But still, I love how it turned out – a simple urban song.

Who are your top five urban Ugandan musicians right now

I am really excited about the direction Ugandan music is taking. Very many urban musicians have emerged and Ugandans have started to embrace this style of music. My top five urban musicians in Uganda sofar are; 

1.OmaNi ReigN

2.Kavali King

3.Karole Kasita

4.Beenie Gunter

5.Fik Fameica

What can people expect from you in the near future?

As I conclude this spectacular interview, I want to tell the people of Uganda to expect alot from me. I have a lot of ‘wow’ music in store and, as I believe in myself and my craft, I might be the first BET female Uganda nominee and to make this even more unbelievable, I dream of being a Grammy nominee in the future. So Ugandans should support my dream because I don’t intend to disappoint them. God is my guide and my driving force, and I anticipate greatness.

By Wanjala