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SNAPPY 7: Gilad – I have never formally learnt Swahili

His growing popularity in Kenya is something many musicians wish they had, but it has not been easy for this diplomat turned musician.

Gilad Millo, or Gilad as he is popular known, took time to seat down with Nairobi News and told us how it all began and what he hopes Kenyan music industry to look like.

1. Briefly tell us about yourself? – I’m an Israeli living in Kenya and I have been here for many years going through some transformation. Musician/business man if you will, like that pretty much.

2. Why did you choose to do your songs in Swahili? – This is my thirteenth year in Kenya and I have never formally learnt Swahili but I always pick it up like a parrot. I hear a word and ask around all the time, everyone around me will always tell you that I always ask the meaning of the words. Swahili is something you learn by experience, so I’m experiencing and practicing.

I only wrote Unajua a year and a half ago. In songs Swahili is different, I try to write my songs in Swahili sanifu which is very important to me. In one of the songs that I am currently writing, I asked Kenyans the meaning of a certain word and got three different answers, later a Tanzanian helped me out and gave me the correct meaning.

3. What made you decide to settle in Kenya? – I was in Los Angels towards the end of my service there after serving Kenya and I met the MD of Amiran who was in LA and he was my neighbour in Kenya. He challenged me to come back to Kenya and join him in his business.

After my service in LA I was appointed the political adviser to the PS, I told them to give me one year leave without pay and decided to come to Kenya and I have been here ever since.

4. Why did you choose to do music? – Because I don’t play football, and I was never tall enough to play basketball. In music I have always been good. There is always something no matter the surrounding, with your acoustic guitar, you can always jam, be it in school, the hall ways, I was always good at it.

5. How did you meet Wendy and how has it been working with her on two projects? – We were together singing in Calabash for two years already and she has a raspy kind of voice when we sing really high which we had done together.

We are very comfortable with each other, so I suggested the song to her as harmony’s which was a mistake because the next week she came back with her own lyrics and then we recorded the song together.

6. How have Kenyans received you? – I’m going around the country at the moment because I have only been performing in Nairobi alone. Every time I go out I can feel the love from Kenyans. People share energy with each other, imagine being the recipient of so much positive energy at once. It is a phenominal feeling.

7. What’s your take on Kenyan Music? – There is an African proverb – If you want to walk fast walk alone, but if you want to walk far walk together. Individuals in Kenyan music have done really well and they have got some spotlight in the industry as a result of walking alone.

Only if we walk together can these industry grow. I met Nyashinsky the other day and I told him to write English because he has been there and he has it, just one song in English, but don’t come from inside America, come from where we are here. An English song written in Kenya by a Kenya artist.

There are still so many ways to go, with so many musicians we can tell a good story about the Kenyan music industry to the World.