Every other Thursday we have our Mics and Beats segment where we feature artists. Today we feature actor and musician Pascal Tokodi. Pascal Tokodi is well known for some of his acting roles but recently released a hot track that is getting him recognition as a talented musician.
Pascal is from Wamba (Samburu). He realized he could sing at the age of 10. The first song he remembers singing was Lonely by Akon, which he performed in front of his mother almost every day after school.
He then progressed to high school (Lenana School) where he joined the drama team and it was then that he realized how much he loved acting. Ever since that moment, he’s been effortlessly trying to master both arts portraying his talent on local shows such as Makutano Junction, Pray n Prey and the first Kenyan musical tv series, Groove Theory.
His talent was eventually recognized by the well-known award show “Chaguo la Teeniez” where he won the ‘Best Entertaining Teenie’ award while still in high school and in June 2014 he was nominated for a Kalasha award for his role in the musical TV show “Groove Theory”.
In 2015, Pascal took part in a talent search show called Tecno Own The Stage, a show consisting of 15 contestants from 3 different countries, Kenya, Tanzania and Nigeria. He scooped the 2nd runners up walking away with a handsome amount of money and the title of the last man standing.
‘Every fire needs its oxygen
just like I need you in my life’
Those are the first lyrics to ‘SITAKI’ an R&B track by the Tecno Own the Stage 2nd runners up contestant, Pascal Tokodi. The song leaves you thinking of that moment you fell in love and had no eyes for another. We did a review here.
When and why did you start playing/ singing? Which instruments do you play?
Singing. I’ve always sung for as long as I can remember but what I can really say was memorable for me is entertaining my mum almost every day after school, she loved it so much she made sure I was present during her chama meetings to entertain her fellow members. They loved it so much chama meetings at our place was a thing to look forward to. Good times, ha ha. Well I guess I started out as a ‘chama entertainer.’
I have always had an interest in learning how to play the guitar and the piano, which I am happy to be learning as at now. What drove me to learning these instruments was the beauty of accompanying my vocals with an instrument and doing it well…or you could just say I was jealous of how instrument players in high school would have all the girls around them during functions.
Do you have a formal musical education?
I can say most of what I know is self-taught but my very first formal music education was in high school at Lenana School. I can say that opened me up to a deeper meaning of music and I went ahead and got myself a vocal coach who is helping me better my voice.
Thinking back to early childhood what was your first experience with music for the first time like. What song do you remember most as a child?
I remember Akon’s Lonely was a song that really stuck on my head and I really loved the melody it had especially the creativity in the hook and the rich lyrics, I can even remember myself singing along to every word. Westlife was also my main boy band, ha-ha; I still have their coast to coast cassette
How is the music different from what you listen to now?
Music back then was true, helping you drift you from reality, stories were rich and so many lessons were taught through it. I feel like our generation has drifted from why people did music, most people nowadays do music for the fame and money, as for me, I just want to tell my story and as I do that, I hope to bring back love.
What made you first realize that you wanted to pursue a career in music?
I used to sing for fun, concentrating more on my acting, but after doing Groove Theory, Africa’s first musical series and going for the Tecno Own The Stage competition in Nigeria and of course persistent friends and family who kept on looking wowed every time I sang for them, I figured why not! I jumped into it with both feet. I knew deep down that it would be a crime not to work on my God given gifts.
Who are your favourite musicians now? Groups? CD’s?
Well I love good music, and as much as that is concerned; there is also a lot of amazing musicians who make that good music so my playlist is diverse, from Phy in Kenya to tory Kelly in the USA
How do you handle mistakes during a performance?
I can say being an actor on stage back in Lenana School and after, you learn to overlook mistakes up and they end up working out. So I usually play along when I make mistakes and eventually it seems like it is part of the show.
What advice would you give to beginners who are nervous?
Just relax and have fun, try and live in the moment because beautiful times are made of such. That doesn’t mean that what you’re doing is not serious, it could be very serious…just try not to make it a failure by worrying too much.
How often and for how long do you practice?
I have lessons every week, I sing beyond the shower…that means I sing almost every day and everywhere when I can. I also listen to other artists and learning different singing skills.
Do you teach music?
Yes I do teach the little I’ve learnt but only to those who are interested and are inquisitive on the matter. Other than that I like teaching young kids especially those in drama and music festival on how to work with their voices and I end up learning as I share.
How would you describe your music to somebody who has never heard you play before?
With music it is better to show someone than to tell them so I wouldn’t describe it, I’d let the listener judge for him/herself. I have to admit…people who ask for a description rarely get disappointed
What can people expect to see at your live performance?
Fun, Fun, Fun and lots of fun. From dancing to the ‘feel good’ atmosphere to the bliss and ultimately the realization of Pascal Tokodi bringing back the Love.
What do you think your biggest break or greatest opportunity has been so far in your musical career?
My biggest break in music happened in Nigeria when I became 3rd runners up. That really motivated me to make music.
Out of the songs you have performed which is your favourite song?
I love all the songs I have sung myself so I really cannot play favorites with any.
Do you write your own music?
I write my own music, some songs are co-written by my producer Malcolm Kashan and my manager, Victor Maina
How much creative control do you have over what you perform?
I tend to work best when I perform what I love and in the best way I possibly can. So I have full creative control over what to perform.
If you had a chance to change something in the music industry what would it be?
I wouldn’t change anything; I would uncover the hidden talent in Kenya that is struggling to come out. Young artists need guidance, I help out with the little I’ve learnt, and so should more musicians that way we get to grow together as an industry.
What is your favourite type of music and is it different from what you play now?
Any good music can easily make it to my favorites because I am a very open minded person. My music is R&B and I plan to fuse it with lots of things I pick up every now and then. But I still hope to retain my niche and achieve my main aim of bringing back the love to music.
What are your other interests outside of music? What do you do to relax outside of music?
Outside of music, I’d like to think of myself as a funny guy. I love it when I make people forget their troubles. I do accents for fun; Chinese, Japanese, Jamaican just to mention but a few. I also ride my motorcycle; it is one of my thrills in life.
What keeps you going as a musician?
God and family. My parents have always supported me and pushed me since they realized my talents. They always taught me that talents are God given and that it would be a crime not to pursue them.
The beauty of being able to take away someone’s worries by making music is also a major factor in keeping me going in music.
Where would you like to see yourself within the next five years as an artist? What are your long term career goals?
I see myself improved, as an artist. I see myself more mature and experienced, but I can’t tell the future, I can only work hard to try to shape it. I want to be an inspiration and living proof that Kenyans are talented people.
If you were to perform with anybody/group in the world, either dead, alive who would it be? (You can name a couple of people)
I would love to perform with Jose Chameleon, Mi Casa, King Kaka, Sauti Sol, Phy, Rubi, AY, Diamond, M.I. There are many talented African musicians so the list goes on and on.
What are your up to date performance plans? New releases? Tours? News
What I can say is that I have a lot of good stuff coming your way, a lot of good stuff. I have never been a fan of spoilers so I cannot really disclose much. This is a journey that we have started together and I plan to keep it as interesting as possible.
Potentash Founder. A creative writer. The Managing Editor at Potentash. Passionate about telling African stories and stories about the inclusion of minorities. Find me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We're all stories, in the end.” ― Steven Moffat