We chat with Victor Kunonga, an amazing self taught guitarist from Zimbabwe.
1. How long have you been composing?
I have been composing for a fairly long time now. From the time I was in 6th grade I composed songs that I would present to the class together with my friends @ Hugh Beadle Primary school. I went on to join the Northlea High school Marimba Band where I did a couple of compositions on the Marimba. Well were the school years but on a more proffessional note, I composed most of the songs that I have recorded between 1999 to date.
2. What is your creative process? How do you start creating a beat? / How do you start writing lyrics to a beat?
I am a trained artist, that is in painting, fashion, Graphic design etc but have never been formally trained in Music. Its something that just grew in me. There is never a clear formula on how I come about to creating a song, but more often, the beat gets to me first. When you listen to the music you will pick up the interweaving of the musical instruments iced by the vocals. I am never stationed in a particular place and time to create. I am working all the time, be it when driving, walking exersicing and even when I am singing on stage. I find my recording devise; in this case my cell phone is very handy in documenting my ideas.
3. What made you chose a career in this field?
I worked for and advertising agency before and was always frustrated by limitations on my creativity, either budgetory or by too much client control. Since music lay dormant in me, I decided to deploy my sixth sense in a field I felt would not limit my creatitvity. I also grew up listening to our local and world music legends, the likes of Thomas Mapfumo, James Chimombe, the Bundu boys, Zexie Manatsa, Oliver Mtukudzi, Freddy Gwala, Peter Tinet and many more who inspired me to make a contribution into the field of music.
4. Did you do any courses for your career field?
The most I did for my carrier is attending music workshops, which actually stimulated so much interest in me taking up music. A lot of what I do is self taught with help from my colleagues in music. Lately I have worked with a great teacher with whom I have collaborated with and also features on my forthcoming Album, Bheki Khoza.
5. What advice can you give to aspiring composers?
To aspiring composers, let your mind flow and keep at it. You can feel the music when it is sitting right in your heart. I have a lot of regrets on why I had not persued music earlier, but its because the system was not too encouraging at the time. I also look back at the music I would have previously recorded and strive to do better. As a composer you may think no one is listening, but trust me, someone is.
6. What other composer’s or artists have you worked with?
I have worked with quite a number. Doing collaboration with The Masganda and Jazz legend Bheki Khoza is a major highlight of my music career. I have working with the late Chiwoniso Maraire and unfortunately she passed on when we were due for our recording in the studio. I have had the honor of working and recording with Loui Mhlanga and Basi Mahlasela on my second album. I have worked with Mbira groups back home, and give credit to Musicians such as Adam Chisvo, Sam Mataure, and many more for helping shape up the music
7. What has been the highlight of your career?
My highlights are when I shared the stage with musicians such as Oliver Mtukudzi, Chiwoniso Mararire, Bheki Khoza, Entran Fanatawa at the Arts Alive festival, meeting and performing alongside Bro Hugh Masekela and a Big Umoja collabotive performance in Mozambique amongst many highlights.