He is energetic and composed. He sits at Gunna Records Studio in Kisugu opposite International Hospital Kampala (IHK). On arrival at the venue, Derrick Kimala, aka Derribeats, is sporting an army green T-shirt, a pair of grey trousers and sandals. We exchange pleasantries.
One could mistake him for a frront desk manager. Rather, he offers us seats and asks what we want. He and my friend get talking. From their talk I realise they are bargaining the cost of recording a song. Derribeats is a manager and producer at Gunna Records Studio.
It is here that he signals for my friend to stand in front of the microphone and hands him a pair of earphones. Derribeats shifts to a swivel chair and turns the mixer buttons with ease as he moves the computer mouse to produce some beats at a slow tempo while my friend sings along. “No, no, cut! Try to get your voice higher,” the 18-year-old tells the singer. “Stop and try again. Sing like no one is watching!”
After this session, he tells me that he is in Senior Six at Ebenezer Secondary School, Kisugu.
Derribeats was born to Fred and Jane Muwanga in Kisugu, Kampala. Ronald Kivumbi, his elder brother, describes him as a respectful person who values others and offers all his energy to client satisfaction. “In 2012 when he was in Senior Three, I decided to teach Derrick how to produce music because he was determined to learn. Besides, I wanted a trusted person to manage my studio,” syas Kivumbi. “ He can operate the studio and I have not heard complaints from our clients. I’m happy for him,” says Kivumbi.
It took him two years to master the skills. The last born of four says sometimes his brother would chase him from the studio to go and concentrate on academics.
“I started by learning how to play the piano and later on sound programmes such as CU-Base, FL studio and Logic. It was not easy to learn because I had to first master the roles of the different buttons on the key boards,” he says. After mastering the skills, his brother made him the manager of the studio at the weekends and in holidays.
“Although I had learnt how to produce music, I enrolled for a music course at Africa Institute of Music (AIM) in Muyenga where I graduated with a certificate in general music early this year,” Derribeats says. He used to go for music lectures at the weekend and in holidays. He dreams of graduating with a Bachelors degree in music.
“I’m reading very hard to pass A-Level with good grades so that I join university. I want to be a professional music producer,” he stresses.
Kivumbi says Derribeats has so far produced and written more than 50 songs . Most of which are for upcoming musicians, church and school choirs. Most of them have not broken through the music industry.
Dan Mukisa, popularly known as DanMuks, describes him as humble, determined and friendly. He attests that Derribeats gave him more than he expected when he went to record his song titled God’s love.
“I went to the studio expecting an adult person but I was amazed when I found a young man operating it. He gave me a warm welcome and guided me through the process until the end. I like his patience and respect.”
He believes some musicians have not done enough to market their songs, adding that others have been frustrated by radio and TV presenters who ask for money so that they can play their music.
Songs he produced include: Vianny Luzie: Cool girl, Engalo za Mukama and Nanyonga Bryax: try me, swag girl, ndeelebu and coco nut juice Dan Mukisa, God’s love Anzo Max: call tune, my number, wamenya omutima and KG Boyz: barking.
Benefits. Paying his tuition for the music course he did at AIM where he used to pay Shs600000 per semester. “I was never sent away for school fees defaulting, “ he boasts.
From his savings, he has been able to set up a music library in Namuwongo which he values at Shs2m. He also rents a house few metres away from the studio.
Charges. Between Shs150,000 to Shs600,000, it is negotiable depending on the genre.
Wisdom drop. Young people with unique talents should do whatever they can to develop them. “Do sit back and wait to be guided all the time. Talent is all about self-confidence, determination and interest. Concentrate on studies because education is paramount to every career,” Kimala aises.