Posted on January 31, 2014
She’s the singer and actress that we are all familiar with. Her’s is a household name. She’s graced our television screens enough times for us to notice her from ten miles away, quite effortlessly! Patricia, in her own words, has gradually distinguished herself as an emerging talent in various entertainment spheres. And who would disagree? Her work clearly speaks for herself. I had the good fortune of catching up with Patricia and she was glad to share her story. So let’s dive in together, shall we?
So Patricia, lets begin by you telling us a little about yourself. Where were you born and raised?
I was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya.
Before you got admitted to Moi University to pursue Psychology, where did you study for your primary and secondary?
I went to Shepherd’s Junior Primary School, then Buru Buru Primary School and finally Moi Girls School Nairobi for my high school.
And did you love doing psychology by any chance? Do you apply any of its practical lessons in everyday life?
Well, I had actually been admitted to study Hotel Management at Moi University but I wasn’t really feeling it when I enrolled for my first semester. I honestly didn’t know what I wanted to study. So what happened was, I looked around for a course that seemed interesting, and also, one that would start the next semester because I also really wanted to return to Nairobi to work on a musical play. It all worked out and although it was by chance, I loved it. Psychology is really just the study of human behavior and motivation so it is a part of my everyday life, my interactions with people around me, with the world pretty much.
Now, lets get straight to your journey in music. A lot of people may remember you for the period of time in Tusker Project Fame SN3..but you actually started singing when you were 9. Tell us how discovering your passion for music at this age was for you.
I loved to sing as a child. I was singing all the time. My dad would make fun of how loud I would get while in the shower. I remember my dog Pluto died when I was ten, and on our way home from burying him we passed by Tune Inn in Karen where my mum bought me a tape of these American kids called “All God’s Children”, to cheer me up. They were a children’s choir made up of kids ranging from the age of 5-16. We popped the tape in the car and listened to the music all the way home. I remember I stayed in the car so I could listen to all of it and I couldn’t believe that kids just like me could sing so wonderfully. That’s the day I decided I would sing for the rest of my life.
What role did your parents have at this critical age of discovering your passion? Did you continue nurturing this gift during your growing teenage years?
As soon as I told my mum I wanted to be a singer, she signed me up for singing lessons with our neighbour Mrs. Kilonzi, RIP. I had a professional keyboard that my dad had bought me when I was about 3 so I would carry it with me to her house every Saturday at 9am. She was great, but I didn’t like the classes, I just didn’t understand how you could be taught to sing, I thought it just happened naturally, so after about 4 weeks I just didn’t go back. I did however make sure I sang wherever I could, in school, in church, music club and mass choir in high school, everywhere.
And talking of TPF, how did participating in the competition impact your life, musically speaking?
TPF was one of those experiences that was somewhat bittersweet. I loved it, and remain grateful for the experience for sure, but it also had its lows. It definitely gave me exposure (I hate that word), because yes, it did expose me to millions of people. It made my face a fairly recognizable one, and that definitely is a good thing in the entertainment industry. I think however, I wasn’t prepared for any negative psychological repercussions. Nobody ever prepares you for a show like that. And for me, I have since battled with the belief that no one ever listens to me perform just to enjoy it. I still feel as though every single bit of my time on stage is being judged. Am I moving around enough? Is my diction good? Am I engaging the crowd? That was the biggest change for me. Being on stage went from being a fun thing, to a very serious, measured experience, and that’s why until today, spontaneous performances remain my most treasured ones. Don’t get me wrong though, I still love to perform, but I miss the lightness that it used to have. I’m working on that right now.
Are there any people you’d love to mention who have helped you nurture your vocal abilities? Which musical personalities do you greatly admire?
I think aside from Mrs. Kilonzi from my childhood who was lovely, Coach Kavutha Mwanzia Asiyo definitely did impart a few gems during TPF. But also just singing along to all those musical greats while I was growing up were definitely the best lessons. Trying to sing just like Them Mushrooms and Mariah and Whitney and Aretha and Michael Bolton as a child did a lot to influence my singing.
What are your future ambitions with regard to your music career? And where do you think the Kenyan music industry is headed in the next 3-5 years or so?
I just want to keep singing. I enjoy performing but I do realize I need to record and share my music, so I’m working towards spending more time in studio, putting stuff out there. About the music industry, well, it can only get bigger and better. So much is happening right now that’s positive, artists are getting bolder and more adventurous, exploring different sounds and elevating their standards with regards to quality and all I can say it’s really exciting to experience the industry’s growth right now. It’s a win/win for everyone, the artists and the audiences.
Now, Lets shift gears to your other main interest…acting. When did you find out this was a passion worth pursuing?
Acting and I go way back. From doing impressions since I was a toddler and enjoying having people laugh or be entertained by me. I decided I was going to act as well while I was still very young.
A lot of people are skeptical on the growth of the theatre industry. They say it’s on a downward path to total extinction (bearing in mind these days people prefer going to movie theatres as opposed to watching plays). Having been in numerous theatrical productions yourself, what are your thoughts on this industry? Do you agree with the skeptics?
You know, I tend not to think about it so critically. I feel that because theatre is an art, then it cannot die. For as long as people are alive, then there will always be people who will remain interested and invested in theatre, or any other art for that matter. And there will always be people who will support it. Our theatre industry is definitely not as developed as it is in, say, Europe, where there are theatres in every town, big or small, and plays are scheduled a year in advance, but that’s not to take away from the fact that we do have a theatre presence, however fledgling.
Together with a troupe of theatre artistes including Antoneosoul, Charles J. Ouda, Mkamzee Mwatela etc, you embarked on a Europe tour with magical Kenya to promote tourism in Kenya through a musical production entitled “Out Of Africa: A Safari through Magical Kenya”. Kindly share how that experience was for you.
“Out Of Africa” was great. It was magical, it was frustrating, it had its funny moments and its dark times, and most of all it was a huge revelation of what I want and what I don’t want for myself as an artist. Being on stage makes me very happy. Period. Performing and expressing myself, and sharing that space with others exhilarates me immensely and I know that doing that is something I want for myself for the rest of my life. Screen acting is definitely a lot different from stage acting and that is something I was happy to learn as I got into it. It’s a lot more subtle and relies less on big movements or exaggerated expressions and speech. I love screen acting a lot more to be honest, and having had the opportunities I have had so far, I am very grateful, to say the least.
*Then early last year you were cast in Jim Chuchu’s short film ‘The Homecoming’ alongside main characters Shiv Singh and Elsaphan Njora. Kindly tell us how that experience was and anything you might have learnt along the way of doing this production.
“Homecoming” was a lot of fun, working with Jim is always a pleasure. I usually go into a new project just hoping to learn whatever I can about everything, not just acting. To learn about the people involved, the responsibilities each holds, how the work has evolved since conception, and how my involvement in whatever project influences the vision of the creator, and vice versa. With “Homecoming”, it was all about being fluid and flexible to change, and trusting my intuition with regards to the characters in the film.
Share your thoughts on the Kenyan film industry. What do you think we should we be doing as a creative industry to get to the next level?
I think the Kenyan Film Industry, as with any industry to be honest, should just keep pushing itself to be bolder, to explore new things, to aim to tell better stories, and to honour the honesty that comes with any raw piece of work.
What have you learned from the directors that you have worked with throughout your career?
My favourite directors, I have to say, have been Wanuri Kahiu and Jim Chuchu. There’s something about the way they trust you as an actor to make decisions with regards to the script and the characters, that made me as a performer own my part more. They are gentle but firm in their directing and that in turn gives the actor a ton of confidence. I have also learnt to listen. To really listen and not to be afraid to ask questions, any questions that come up. I guess watching them work, both as creators and directors helped my when I then wrote and directed my show, “Life In The Single Lane.” That really was influenced a lot by my gut feelings.
“Life In The Single Lane” is a show than came about in a very spur of the minute fashion. It was originally supposed to be a play written by Seth Busolo, and extremely talented writer who runs a production company with his wife, Daisy, called Wholesome Entertainment. A couple of days to the show though, I just didn’t feel very at peace with what we had prepared, which was a great play, but just didn’t feel right. I opted to rewrite and recast the whole thing, strongly following my gut. I cast Jason Runo, and amazing actor, all round funny guy and long time friend. I invited people to come through to watch it, telling them that it was an experiment, which it really was. I did not expect the response I got, which was amazing, and have since done it thrice, because the show would sell out and we would be forced to send people away at the door. This last time though, I also produced it, making me the show’s writer, director, producer and performer. I even designed the poster, and handled all the marketing for it. I love that it has given me the opportunity to write, sing and act, all at the same time. It’s been wonderful, and now I’m planning to make it a regular show, with different stories told every time, and switching up the music.
(On Valentine’s Day, Patricia will have her show, Life on the Single lane staged at The Louis Leaky Auditorium located at the Museum. Mark your calendars and watch this space for more details.)
*So, onto another interest close to you. Radio. Apparently you read news for two years at one fm…then all of a sudden…you left! What exactly happened? Do you still have ambitions for radio?
Yes, I was at One FM for two years, where I originally joined hoping to do a show. Two years later, having learnt about the news desk and journalism while working there, I still wasn’t presenting a show. I left to go on tour with Out Of Africa, and when I came back, they still weren’t ready for the show I wanted to do so I opted to just not go back. I am however, back on Radio, doing the news on Homeboyz radio, and hosting the show I want once a week.
As we begin to wind up, I bet there are many people out there who look up to you and get inspired by what you do. What would you tell them? Any Patricia life Philosophy you’d love to share?
Be curious. Ask. About anything and everything. There is no shame in not knowing, but there is disgrace in ignorance, I believe.
What do you love to do when you want to take a time off this busy world and relax?
I love to spend time with myself, with my family and friends. It doesn’t matter what we’re doing, as long as it’s with each other.
Share with the world life lessons you have learnt from your papa and mama.
My father once told me, “If you wake up in the morning grumbling about having to go to work, then stop what you’re doing. Find something that you wake up excited to do.” Excellent advice that rings true every day of my life. My mother, on the other hand, is one of the most supportive people I know, and is so fiercely loyal. I once remember trying to convince my younger brother to shave off his afro, citing professionalism, especially in his field, and my mother, in his defence said that if any company was going to not hire my brother based on his hair rather than his competence, then my brother had no business working there. My folks are awesome; they simply love, and don’t take things too seriously. In fact, we spend a lot of time laughing. Hysterically. I have videos of my mother rolling around on the floor laughing.
Are you dating? I bet hopeful single men out there would love you to clear the air. Ahem. ^_^
Well, I am doing a show about Life in the Single Lane so that should tell you something. But I must say, I’ve also embarked on a new relationship with myself.
What’s the greatest misconception do you think people have about celebrities like yourself?
That we have no reason to work hard because everything now comes handed to us. It doesn’t. I still have to go for auditions, and do voice tests, and to pay my bills. But I have chosen to also become my own employer and take control of how I choose express myself. To tell the stories I want to tell in ways that haven’t been explored before.
What are you reading? Any good reads you would love to recommend?
I’m currently reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “Americanah”, which is fantastic, Paul Arden’s “God Explained in a Taxi Ride” and “True and False: Heresy and Common Sense for the Actor.” I get distracted very easily so sometimes I read more than one book at a time, or get too impatient to wait to finish one before getting to the other. I would recommend any book by Haruki Murakami. He has this way of consuming one with his tales such that I feel a great sense of loss when I’m done reading his books. As though I have to say goodbye to friends I made, the characters, and a life I became a part of.
Favourite movie of all time?
The Shawshank Redemption. And Inception. And Sister Act 2. And Savages. I could do this all day.
*Any celebrity crush? (Confession time!)
I’m still trying to make sense of my fascination with Ice Prince. I think it’s just Oleku, his jam that still drives me crazy, 3 years later. Burna Boy as well. Man, these Nigerians. If they weren’t musicians I don’t think I’d give them a 2nd glance.
Well folks, there’s the much we could dig into Patricia’s life (for now). I hope you have enjoyed the read as much as I have. There’s no question about Patricia’s ability to delve into details about her life, and allowing us to have a sneak peak into what she’s all about. Well, it goes without saying that one post is barely enough to satisfy all our curiosities…but she did say she had a funeral for her dog, right? What more do you want, ha? Many years ago when our dog died, we just stuffed the corpse in a gunia and threw it over the edge of a vast quarry. No ceremony, no mourning, nothing! Matter of fact, my mum grieved over the loss of that gunia which would have been used to carry potatoes during her next visit to wakulima market. I know I’m not alone in this so you can quit looking at me like that! Anyway, either way, thanks for checking the post out and leave a comment below!
I’m also proud to say that this was my first interview project that saw me partner with other creatives. So at this point I love to point out that I had the good fortune of working with one of the most amazing photographers in town, sir Jude Gichumbi. If some of the photos we have on here are anything to go by, then you can bear me witness that Jude is nothing short of good, ay? Jude also doubles up as an art director…and his ability to come up with creative concepts is an art that he has well mastered. I cannot emphasize enough how honored I am to have worked with him and I’m looking forward to doing more projects with him. Don’t hesitate to check out Jude’s work on the following links:
I also had the pleasure of having Linda Mariah, a fabulous make-up artiste, who was glad to come in and do Patricia’s make-up on set. Linda has previously worked on numerous projects as a make-up artiste including TV shows like Changing Times. She is proprietor of The beauty cottage, a high end Salon that offers professional services. And finally I cant forget my good friend Vicky Murithi who was present on set, busy taking behind-the-scenes photos during the main shoot.
It will not be courteous of me to just leave you like that so I thought it would be nice for you to Jam along this funky track by Calvo Mistari featuring Patricia, and while you are at it, do have a happy Friday!