No greater feeling than to be loved back

What goes on in your mind as you play the saxophone?

On stage, it is always about expression and impression. I express myself well enough to impress my audience. I am always trying to evoke someone’s emotions.

Have you played a tune that brought your emotions to life?

Yes, I surely have. One such is Kuku, a tune that I borrowed from the musical duo Radio and Weasel. I could almost see myself singing the words during the recording session.

What did you feel deep down?

For the first time, I could feel like I was speaking through my instrument. I remember letting a friend listen to the demo that evening at Sheraton (Kampala Hotel). I could see goose bumps all over her arms. It was confirmation that people felt what I was trying to express.

Have you ever shed tears while playing the sax?

No. Usually, when I play, it stems from a point of happiness or money. I am yet to encounter a moment so overwhelmingly joyous that I cry as I play. Quite rarely, though, I cry when I come across someone with extraordinary musical abilities.

How precious is your sax to you?

It is the second most prized asset I have. My brain, body, and precious fingers, come first. You could take away anything from me and I would survive. But without my musical assets life would be so hard, in terms of happiness and fulfilment.

How does your sax compare to your woman?

My sax and my woman do not get compared because none is in direct competition with the other. They are both extremely valuable and endeared to me.

Would you lose any to the other?

The humanly instinct in me would not let me chose my sax over someone I love regardless of how deeply sentimental I am with the instrument. I can always go to Sam Ash and get a new one.

What is your idea of love?

Love can be made to be love. It exists naturally and is available for everyone. We just have to embrace it. You can make someone fall in love with you even when they did not previously intend to. Love is patient, kind, slowness to anger, humble and endures.

When did love first have meaning for you?

I think it was 10 years ago when I started to understand that emotions and deeds complete the package called “love”.

What are your acts of love?

I could tell you kissing and hugging but these are only the coating. The real deal for me is the sacrifice involved every time you say you love someone. Are you able to share, struggle, cry, laugh, joke, converse with, and be good companion with the person you say you love?

Are you currently in a relationship?

I have been in a few. I am single now and concentrating on my career.

What has been your experience relating intimately?

Both ecstatic and very disturbing. We live life with its black and white experiences. Both are great. My theory of life is “live love, love life”. There is no greater feeling than to love and be loved.

What is the one thing that makes you proud of being Ugandan?

Our general character that I will call ak’obuntu. The line drawn between what should and should not be done in society.

What messages are presented in your music?

It is a combination of culture, love, hate, and divinity. Some of the themes are humourous, others serious and others, well, touching daily life issues.

Where have you played?

In 2015, I performed at the Zanzibar International Film Festival. A lot more is to be heard on my album Dawn, which is soon to be released.

What are your top destinations?

All live band spots within a radius of 10km in Kampala, together with a few clubs.

Mugenyi's musical journey

Practicing four hours every day, Brian Mugenyi first played the piano when he was eight. He spent five years nurturing his passion for music at Africa Institute of Music, where he majored in classical piano, with a minor in the saxophone.

He perfected the playing the saxophone in South Korea on a student exchange programme.