Today on Mics And Beats we feature Sage also known as Chemutai Sage. Chemutai Sage is a Kenyan singer, songwriter, composer and instrumentalist. She is a pianist and self-taught guitarist. She is better known for her song So Alive and sleeper hit collaboration Dumbala, which both showed her musical dynamism. Not one to be put inside a box, her music can be described as a fusion of RnB, neo soul, pop and a hint of African rhythm.
Sage credits her diversity, to listening to different genres growing up which include classical music, contemporary Christian music, 90’s RnB, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Kalenjin folk music and brass bands. Her main influences when she was younger were Destiny’s Child and a number of Contemporary Christian Musicians including Switchfoot, DC Talk and Commissioned. Later she turned her ear to other different styles including Pop Music, AfroJazz (Fela Kuti), HipHop, Blues, African Urban fusions and Electronic fusions from which she draws inspiration currently.
Her debut album ‘Expose Yourself’, which she co-produced and released in September 2015 ,centers on themes of love, truth, hope and freedom which are messages she predominantly perpetuates.
Sage has played in numerous festivals including Blankets and Wine, Kinanda Fest, Jamhuri Festival and the Go Down Gig. She was in the first season of Coke Studio Africa and Discover 254. Sage has had opportunities to interact with several high rankingmusicians like Zimbabwean great, Oliver Mtukudzi and Nigerian legend King Sunny Ade who she collaborated with on Coke Studio. In 2013, Sage was nominated for an AFRIMMA award for best new artist.
Tell us a little bit about the background of Sage. How did you get into music?
Well, I was born Barbara Ng’eno and I am number 8 of ten siblings. I started singing in church when I was about 5 years old. I had my first formal piano lesson t 9. I started writing music when I was 11 years old due to the death of my father and my inability to express it any other way. I grew up listening to a lot of contemporary gospel music and of course my dad’s favourites; Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Classical music and Choir music. I always wanted to be an orchestra conductor but after high school I ended up meeting my producer and we have been making music ever since. I have played in quite a number of bands. The most notable one was my first band gig as a keyboard player and backing vocalist to Muthoni Drummer Queen aka MDQ. I also play the guitar (self-taught) and in the process of learning how to better play the bass guitar.
What kind of music do you do? Do you have a specific design or technique associated with your brand? Tell us about your creative process.
We call our sound Rhythmic soul because it has largely elements of RnB and Neo Soul but to be honest it pretty much is a mix of a lot of things. The only technique I have is being 100% myself. My creative process is a very spontaneous one that is triggered by just about anything. I get inspired by a lot of things. I could be walking down the street a song comes to mind and I have to record it on my phone. However in studio it varies between music I compose from home and tracks that my producer makes that he feels I could like. He is always right.
Who are your artistic influences?
All people in the arts industry inspire me. Expressing yourself in a world that constantly demands for uniformity is a challenge but these brave souls do it any way. I also am inspired by life. Its complexity and simplicity make for a good story any day.
What challenges have you endured during your artistic journey, especially as a female artist?
I think most of the challenges have been related to people not accepting that musician is an actual job. People in and out of the industry do not respect the business of music. Musicians themselves do not treat the business side of music like a business.
If you had to change one thing in the Kenyan music industry what would that be?
I would change absolutely nothing. We are in a good place and in a time of musical revolution for the better so I just want to see the process in patience.
If you had a chance for an international work collaboration, who would it be and why?
The answer changes constantly but currently Chronixx. I have been listening to his latest album and I like his vibe. He is very authentic to himself which I like.
Do you have a favorite musical piece, your crown jewel?
If you were not doing music what you would be doing?
I always used to think I could never live without being in music (okay maybe it’s true) but I am a science nerd. I would probably be an astrophysicist or some inventor or something. I would also maybe be in animation or film.
Where do you see Sage in the next 10 years?
I see myself happy and satisfied with the strides my music career has taken. I will probably be fulfilling a new path.
Always be confident in yourself and do everything to excellence as a human being not just a female human being. Treat your music how you want people to treat your music.
Where can people buy your music/concert tickets/ or which clubs do you play in?
My music is available on iTunes, Waibel, Spotify, Google Play, Amazon, BoomPlayer and Deezer.
Some fun Questions – Quick fire Interview
What was the last thing you watched on TV and why did you choose to watch it?
Supernatural rerun because I love Supernatural.
What was the last gift you gave someone?
I have no idea. Am I selfish or just forgetful?
If you could be any animal in the world, what would you be and why?
I would honey badger. I don’t think any animal messes with the honey badger and we are equally bad ass. I am just bad ass in a different way…haha.
If you were not an artist, what would you be and why?
I answered that before, right?
If you had a super power, what would it be and why?
I would have the power of time travel because I want to know the truth. I am so tired of all the alterations of history over time. I however wouldn’t go into the future. I love the slow revelation of things.
You have been given an elephant; you can’t sell it or give it away, what would you do with it?
Give it away to people who can take care of it. I have no time or resources to take care of an Elephant.
If you were to be a governor of a county in Kenya, which would it be and why?
I would be the governor of Kericho county because those are my people and that is my home. I see so much potential in the area. I have projects in mind that would help in the development of the place and the people.