Exclusive: Bakhita On What It Takes To Be A Multidisciplinary Artist

Bakhita is a multidisciplinary star with a passion for music, painting, and design. In music, their music genre of choice is an eclectic blend of Urban Jazz, Afro Funk, and Neo-Soul. Bakhita’s catalog boasts of songs such as Ukunda, Tangawizi, H8in on Di Reggae, Ignite, and Anxiety’s Bitch. In addition, Bakhita has a distinct husky voice that shines through several key ranges.

As a result of their ethic and talent, Bakhita has earned amassed accolades since debuting in professional music in 2018. In 2021, the Ukunda singer scooped the coveted Sondeka Award for “Disruptive Music Video” for the song Chamo Mile: PYE. Bakhita has also graced several stages such as Global Queer Youth Network Creative Celebration, Distant Relatives, Nairobi Design Week, etc.

In addition to a spectacular discography, Bakhita has designed stages for concerts like Kilifi New Year and Ongala Music Festival. While art and music are at Bakhita’s core, the singer is also a staunch advocate for the rights of minorities such as African women, LGBTQ+, sexual abuse victims, and mental health victims.

2 EPs and 2 Albums later, KV caught up with Bakhita to learn more about their world and what it takes to be a multidisciplinary artist.

You are a painter, a singer, a songwriter, and a set designer. As a multidisciplinary artist, how do you juggle your different passions?

Honestly, all my passions balance out as they feed into each other and elevate each discipline. My music thrives off my set design because I’m able to create magical concepts for my music videos and be exposed to amazing people in the production industry. My painting feeds my music because I am then able to occasionally use my paintings as cover art. And finally, my music feeds the two because it gives me an excellent platform to market these two disciplines.

Are you more passionate about one discipline than the others?

No, I am not. My love for painting and music started at the exact same time. So they have always worked hand in hand, and set design had also not been too far behind.

Describe your most and least favorite parts about being a multidisciplinary artist.

My favorite part about being a multidisciplinary artist is the ungoverned creative control. Since I’m completely in charge of my visual image as well as my sonic image. I’m able to create synonymous creative portals in my work and ensure that my vision is executed as I imagined.

My least favorite thing is the projected assumption that working this way is either unfocused or disorganized when it is the exact opposite. In reality, being a multidisciplinary artist means that I have complete control over most of my artistic process. This means that I’m able to streamline and manage my image, projects, and passion more autonomously and intentionally.

Bakhita

Bakhita, your sound is very distinct. What is your muse?

I’d say my music has been largely inspired by my love for introspection and reflection. I push to ensure my music mirrors thought processes and feelings that echo the human experience; love, loss, celebration, depression, our relationship with power, and ourselves to name a few. 

Bakhita

What inspires the genres in your music?

My diverse music taste has mostly influenced my music. I listen to a lot of Jazz, Funk, Dub, Neo-Soul, Blues, Hip Hop and RnB. Since my taste in music is very broad, I try to marry as many musical styles through different projects I share so that each of the songs I make carries its own unique character. Some artists that have however inspired me over the years are Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone, Jill Scott, Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, Solange, Moses Sumney, and Tems.

Your choice of genres has very niche audiences. What would you advise an artist trying to get into a similar scene?

I’d say you need to find a lot of security and self-confidence in your art style. It is very hard breaking into the market when you are going against the grain. You also have to cultivate deeper self-care processes for yourself: healthy detachment, positive affirmations, active rest, research and reading, etc. This is because you will need to be your biggest supporter through this all. Any slip in your creative well-being or mental resilience can really affect your productivity and in turn, prevent you from achieving your goals.

Stream Bakhita

Out of your entire collection, which song(s) did you have the most fun while making?

Wow! Dem Go Know and H8in On Di Reggae are really up there, to be honest. This is because both songs use a lot of call-response harmonies that make me extremely satisfied and an African. Also, writing these two songs was unbelievably soothing and empowering for my spirit. So I imagine that my listeners feel the same sense of calm knowing when listening to them.

What is the craziest thing that a fan has ever done or said to you?

Ahaha! Wow! A fan once asked me to become their therapist because of my Psychology degree. It was such a sweet moment though because I had offered consultations a few years ago after leaving uni. So they found that doc and asked if I could take them on. However, I declined because I do not practice and have no intention to.

How did the Vogue Italia feature come to be? Tell us about the entire experience and how it has impacted your career.

It was honestly all thanks to the inset of COVID. I create sets and was just starting to really fine-tune that passion, as I had my own studio at Karen Village. I was one of the few artists who were still able to work over COVID. Plus I was sharing a lot of online content in 2020. So a photographer from vogue found my Instagram page and asked me if I could feature in his isolation series for the magazine. I hit up my two very good friends in the creative scene – Nyokabi Kimari and Natasha Ayoo to help me with the styling, setup management, and shooting.  It was such a sweet moment for me. Especially because it was my first proper set design and modeling project and it gave my name visibility and reliability in the industry.

What do you look for when sourcing for an artist or producer to collaborate with?

Honestly, I don’t seek out either anymore. At the beginning of my music career, I used to actively reach out to people I wanted to work with or people who I looked up to based on their music. And I really kulad Ls. Many people get spooked if you seek them out before they hear about you. So I learned that my best bet at working with people to see and mirror my vision in music is by allowing the universe to make that connection for me. By this I mean that I follow the flow of my interactions in the scene as when someone is right for my journey then we almost always find a way to each other organically. And the music is way better then.

Which artist(s) would you love to work with in the future?

Honestly, this is a hard question because I am not working on any collaborations urgently. But hopefully, at some point in this life, I can create music with either Achieng, Banana Overdose, Groovy Jo, Amarae, or Tems. All 5 would honestly be the perfect scenario.

Tell us more about your advocacy efforts for minorities and why you chose that path

I advocate for safer spaces for queer people, women, creatives, people struggling with their mental health, and sexual abuse survivors specifically. This path honestly chose me. My family has always been involved in advocacy work and speaking out against public injustices. My Mum, Wanjiru Gikonyo, and Uncle, John Githongo actually still work in advocacy to date. So I have always been exposed to a need for raising awareness on issues that affect us.

I streamlined this interest to the specific communities mentioned above because I also personally experienced injustices in each of them. So as I kept growing as an artist and person, it became harder and harder for me to turn a blind eye and not use my platform to at the very least raise awareness. We are all collectively responsible for the state of our society. With every small change we enact, we can slowly share and grow immense ripples of change and care for the entire society.

As a mental health advocate, what would you tell other creatives battling mental health issues?

Firstly you are not alone. One of the burdens of creativity is the likelihood of experiencing dissonance that pushes you to creative ways of thinking as a means of resolution. There is power in knowing your pain, and in translating your pain through your work, you can find powerful self-transformation. Finally, seek our therapy. This industry has two very distinct sides to it, – magic and callousness. You need to cultivate your mind and mental health in order to not get stuck in the wonder of illusions between these two points.

Are there new projects in the works? What can fans expect?

Yes! I’m working on a few singles with 2 new production teams set to drop this year that I’m very excited about. I’m also working on some very exciting visual art pieces and stories that I also really can’t wait to share.

Do you live by any mantra?

Yes. LOVE RADICALLY

Email me at agnesopondo@gmail.com