As human nature dictates, many a times, as one strolls around Kampala City, there is always that billboard with a familiar face, that unfortunately the mind is not well versed with and neither has there been a physical encounter with the mysterious person.
One such incident happens with Gabriel K, referred to by many as “that guy on the billboard” or the “billboard musician” and what better way to get to know more about “the guy” than catch up with him for a good old lengthy chat?
We met up with the 42-year old musician and CEO of Brand Active East Africa to get snippets of who he is and his life as a business person and also an artist.
Briefly, how would you describe Gabriel Kakuru?
Reserved but living a full life. 42 years young, a father of 3, a businessman and a passionate musician.
When did your music journey start?
I was part of a boyband when I was a teenager. Unfortunately, we had no money to drive the ambition then and so we stuck it to karaoke sessions, and never made something serious of ourselves.
I later had to join University, work and make a life away from music. Two years ago I clocked 40 and a string of grey hair woke me up from my slumber.
I had forgotten to live. Like really live in what I love and God blessed me with – I got back into the studio. Here we are today with 2 albums and having had an amazing concert recently.
You are one of the people with a great CV in the entertainment industry as a TV presenter, producer, director on top of being a business person and there were rumors of you planning to take on acting in Nollywood as well, how do you juggle all these?
Good planning always leaves time to do a lot of things. I also employ very gifted and professional people in business and music. When you work with very talented musicians like Elijah Kitaka or video directors like Sasha Vybz, you don’t need much time to execute projects.
They already have the skills. So I surround myself with the best producers, songwriters, videographers, and music directors. Oh yes, Nollywood is calling; Hollywood is the ultimate. Let’s watch this space.
You released an album titled ‘Love Ocean’ this year, tell us about the album and what it means to you?
Love Ocean is my second album. The first album is ‘Done Waiting’ and is a collection of songs with different genres and honestly not my best work, brilliant but not my best.
So what does Love Ocean mean to me? A refined piece of work with a cherry on top. I poured my heart into it. The love songs are what really define me as an artist. From the audio to video production I went for the best and worked with the best.
So even If I stopped singing today, I’d be happy that I outed my best.
Many people know you as the artist who advertises on billboards, is this your unique way of advertising? Or why do you choose that way as opposed to the traditional advertising?
The billboard musician (laughs)…I do actually own a business that does billboards, so well, I use them. But also, I think to be big you have got to come across big.
Impressions! That’s why I syndicate them with TV Ads and possibly have been the only one to run a prime time concert on NBS Television that was hugely successful. So what you call ‘traditional’ is normal and boring. I have to do things differently.
What is your plan for your music journey in the next 5 to 10 years, are you looking into commercializing it or do it as a hobby?
Music is a hobby or let us say something I do out of love before thinking of earning from it. But now that I have packaged the music well, brands have been attracted to it. So I hope to leverage it and make money out of it.
I will be working on growing my international appeal and presence for the next year or so. Hopefully that will dictate a lot on the future. 10 years? I’ll be retired and singing on my front porch, hopefully with a few awards to show for it.
Are there any Ugandan/ international artists you would want to work with someday?
Oh yes! The list is long but Ugandan names would include Juliana, Irene Ntale, Namakula, Naava Grey and Kenneth Mugabi. I hope I can earn a John Legend feature someday. Oh yes, I do dream big.
Aside from music who are you?
I am a Christian, a father and a businessman. But I can’t be anything without the music