Dela has been in the music industry for close to a decade but her most notable efforts are the singles she has released after being signed to Taurus Musik (under Taurus Group) sometime in July last year.
She started off her string of hits with Mafeelings, followed closely by Hello Swahili Cover which is the track that put her in the limelight internationally, then Third Party Lover and then just about two weeks ago, she released Ahadi Zako (Swahili for Your Promises).
If you listen to Mafeelings, Third Party Lover, Ahadi Zako and even the Hello Swahili Cover, it’s easy to tell that Dela wasn’t in a very happy space while recording these songs. It’s like one heartbreaking story divided into parts.Was it a true life story or what really went down?
Here’s my one on one with Taurus Musik’s First Lady dubbed the Queen of AfroPop, Dela Maranga!
Question: Ever since you joined Taurus, what has it been like for you?
Dela: It feels like this is where I should have been ages ago. It feels like I’m actually getting somewhere. It was really slow before but now I’m seeing a lot of movement, I’m able to walk into doors that I couldn’t before. It’s been great.
Q: When did you get signed by Taurus?
D: July last year.
Q: How did the people at Taurus Musik approach you? How did you take their suggestion to switch up your style from AfroSoul to AfroPop?
D: It was something that we had been trying to do for the longest time. I’d also been trying to do it but I probably wasn’t going about it the right way or I didn’t have the right machinery or support that I have now. I’d worked with Iyke (Founder of Taurus Group) for Taurus Events (a branch of the company). By that time I was signed and we had wanted to work together but we couldn’t. After my contract ended my manager was having a conversation with him and I came up. He called me and arranged a meeting. We discussed what I wanted to do with my music which was making it more mainstream and to be more pop so plans and structures were put in place to make that happen.
Q: I know that you’re working on an album; do you have a release date yet? This is your first album under Taurus, right?
D: Yes it is. Well, we want a Pan African sound. We want an album that is predominantly African so I’m doing a lot of collabos with many artists from Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya as well and we’re looking at August for the release. That really depends on correspondence. The process of doing collabos with the artists outside (Kenya) is taking long but we’re optimistic that we’ll have something in August.
Q: Are you planning a tour for the album?
D: Yes, I’ve been talking to the people who do tours and trying to see how to go about it. What I can guarantee is that there will be a big album launch and we’re thinking of having it outside of Nairobi.
Q: Have you thought about having your album launched in other countries as well so that it can reach more people?
D: That’s actually a good idea! I should do that. Thank you for that!
Q: Who do you think will be hardest to work with on this album since you’re working with artists from all over Africa? Who will be hardest to reach?
D: So far the guys I have approached are really enthusiastic and no one has really given me a problem. Most tracks are actually recorded and almost done. I think I was approaching people who wouldn’t give me a headache (chuckles).
Q: So far you’ve released Mafeelings, Third Party Lover, Ahadi Zako and maybe the Hello Swahili Cover, are these tracks all going to be on the album?
D: Yes they are and we’re doing this (releasing the tracks) deliberately to build up hype to it (the album)
Q: Are you planning to keep releasing music like this cuz so far it’s on a monthly basis till August or are you planning to have some tracks exclusively on the album?
D: Not every song is going to be a single. Maybe just two more, the rest are going to be on the album. Then after the album launch, we are going to promote it as we work on the next album.
Q: Some time ago I saw a picture of you and H_Art The Band. I think you were recording at Pacho. What’s happening with that track?
D: We’re supposed to have released it but we want it with a video so plans are underway.
Q: How was it working with H_Art The Band since they are relatively new?
D: They are so much fun, they are creatively aware. They know what they want and I like that. They’re open to ideas and they feel like family.
Q: How was it working with 125?
D: (laughs) it was a long, long time ago and I think it was my first video ever, me featuring on their song, Nawaza. Sometimes I look at that video and appreciate how far we’ve come. They’re amazing and they have a new song out (Taabu). I’ve always been a huge fan of their rhymes and Nawaza was a conscious song, we had limited resources and we were young but I think it was a really good project.
Q: Would you consider working with them on future projects?
D: I could! Why not?
Q: All the records you’ve released under Taurus kind of speak of one thing…
D: It’s the space I am in, in my life. As I was writing those songs I’d been through some really heartbreaking situations, bogus relationships and I tend to write how I’m feeling.
Q: Are you working with Ketchup (Nigerian artist) on the remix to Pam Pam?
D: We are! He’s really excited about it. I don’t know if I want to do a remix or a different song altogether because there are already many remixes to that song… We can do something new.
Q: From previous interviews, you’ve said that the Hello cover was the one that blew up the most, probably the one that got you international recognition but apparently your most popular song is Third Party Lover. Was that a shocker for you?
D: Yeah, kind of! I had no idea. I always thought it was Mafeelings but I’m not saying it’s not a fantastic song. I just thought because I sang it in English most people wouldn’t like it (because it’s too different).
Q: The Hello Swahili Cover video is out. When did that happen since it was almost a “secret release”?
D: My subscribers on YouTube are probably the only people who knew because I didn’t really hype it. It was kind of leaked on a Nigerian channel because the person who directed it is Nigerian so we just thought we should release it officially.
Q: How is Ahadi Zako doing so far?
D: Ahadi Zako is doing great. The Swahili in that song makes people think that yes, this is the Dela we know; her mellowness and sultriness. A lot of people were waiting for that, it’s getting airplay so let’s see if we can do a video for it.
Q: What does Dela’s brand say for Dela? When someone hears “Dela” what would you want them to think?
D: They should think powerhouse, versatility (since I’m not doing one style of music), attitude, sassy, sexy, pushing boundaries, trying to be different but at the same time give people something to absorb. If you go too far left, it’s easy to lose everyone.