1 on 1 with Music Uganda's Julie Erusa Nattabi
The new face of Music Uganda.
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First published: September 28, 2006
If you are from East Africa, most specifically from Uganda, and are a music lover, then you have heard of Music Uganda. Music Uganda is an entertainment portal which provides news and reviews along with an extensive directory providing free listings for events, musicians, bands, dancers, artists, Djs, producers, song writers, audio engineers, choirs, actors and also deals with promotion of Ugandan music, artists and culture.
One of the other reasons why we started this website project was because being artists ourselves, we realized that it was very hard to get airplay on the radio and at the same time, Uganda wasn't properly represented musically on the Internet. TV stations have been very cooperative though but getting your song played on Radio Sanyu for instance is probably as hard as getting your website listed on google, and they know it too. Marginalized music genres like Hip-hop and gospel embraced this project instantly and we are trying to reach out to everyone.
Paul 'P-Tech' Mwandha,
Music Uganda initially started out with Paul 'P-Tech' Mwandha, David 'Ruffso' Mwandha and Emmanuel 'Buuba' Egwel. More people like Arthur tha Puzzle, Joel Isabirye and Cleopatra Koheirwe added their writing and journalistic expertise on the site. When people wanted to know what was going on in the Ugandan music industry, Music Uganda became the place to go. Paul 'P-Tech' Mwandha, who was the webmaster, was the main driving force behind the site, and also the 'face of Music Uganda.'
Unfortunately, disaster struck and Paul 'P-Tech' Mwandha, who was born in 1979, passed away on the 28th of September, 2005 from cancer. His death shook the Ugandan music industry and was an incredible blow that the industry is still reeling from. Many people wondered what would happen to Music Uganda, the source many people in the Music industry and its supporters had come to rely on. Many hoped that it would end up in the hands of a reliable person. It did. Music Uganda went through a period where it faltered, like a new foal on shaky limbs, but slowly and surely was revived and refurbished into what is admittedly a 'fresh and attractive appearance whilst making the site more reader-friendly.'
Julie Erusa Nattabi
The main person behind all this work? The pretty, charismatic and mysterious Julie Erusa, who prefers to remain in the shadows and avoids the limelight. Not much is known about Julie. She is very humble and modest but Paul 'P-Tech' Mwandha perhaps gave the best description of her hard work and enthusiasm.
Of all the people I have worked with, no one has been more daring and as enthusiastic as Julie Erusa Nattabi. I know she doesn't want many people to know she's been behind the "mouse, keyboard 'n' monitor" here but we have to give credit to her. She went out to the Kampala jungle for entertainment news. They were very co-operative and gave Julie very good stories. She's also always on time for her work and appointments and no body beats deadlines like she does.
Paul 'P-Tech' Mwandha.
Often times, people who work behind the scenes do not get a lot of credit for their work, but UGPulse recognizes a gem when they see one. Erusa truly fits the description to a T. I was able to catch up with her and discuss among many other things the impact of Paul 'P-Tech' Mwandha passing away and her role at Music Uganda. The interview was an emotional one for her, but she was still a sport and shared snippets of her life with us. This interview has been long overdue.
Jane: You seem to be the main person behind Music Uganda, yet we know very little about you. Please tell us more about Julie Erusa.
Julie: No am not the main person behind it, I am just the Manager. I actually have a Director called David Mwandha. I go by the names of Juliet Nattabi Erusa so I am purely Ugandan. I was born in Namirembe Hospital on 9th August, 1982. My age is 24 years. I attended Kampala Parents' School, Makerere College School for both my O' and A' Level and lastly Makerere University where I attained a degree in Bachelor of Arts in Arts. I am a caring, kind, friendly, focused and principled person.
So Julie you took off from The Late Paul Mwandha a.k.a P-Tech. How did his passing away affect you?
Paul's passing away, this is a hard topic. I didn't think I would be able to continue with Music Uganda. Coming into the office was a problem. Each time I entered the office, I broke down and cried. I would just turn around and go home. It went on for about a week. Friends and artists help me go through this hard time. Paul and I were always working together, but now the load seemed to be so heavy. Too many eyes on me - I always loved being in the back, never at the front. That all had to change and I had to take the chair or the wheels because I noticed that a lot of Music Uganda depended on me.
Now the load was on my shoulders. I immediately encountered several problems including people wanting to buy it, competition and not to forget the haters. But I guess this all made me stronger. The love and support from the entire Ugandan music industry, not to forget again the artists was great – It had to go on.
Yes it did and you made it happen. How did his passing away affect the Ugandan Music scene?
The music industry generally lost a great person. He still had a lot to do for the entire Ugandan music industry. He was one of the people who supported the Ugandan music a lot. But I guess one of the sectors that was deeply hurt or left with a deep scar is the Hip Hop industry. He was a true hip hopper.
What were the challenges of taking over Music Uganda?
When Paul passed way, I was working part time with another company called Titan Services where I was an administrator. So the biggest challenge was balancing the two jobs because the Titan job was a 8am – 5pm job. I found my self working on Music Uganda from 6 pm – 9pm and afterwards I would take the remaining music Uganda work home and work late. I did not think I could go on or be able to manage.
Julie Erusa Nattabi
Music Uganda has a new face right now. It's gone through some positive changes and is now revamped and more user friendly thanks to your efforts. You are obviously dedicating a lot of time to it. Are there any other projects you are working on.
Yes am dedicated to Music Uganda. Besides Music Uganda, I am also Maurice Kirya's Personal Assistant and I am also Country Manager for a Company called Inmobia which basically turns musicians' songs, videos and photos for ring tones and cell phone wall paper for Celtel. I cannot say all these jobs are 9 to 5 because they are equally demanding so I give them all my time. Most times I run Inmobia and Music Uganda work together which in the long run gives me enough time to do Maurice's work too. I also represented Uganda at the previous Kisima Awards.
Is the corporate world in UG paying attention to Music Uganda?
Yes, they are starting to pay attention to Uganda Music.
What have been your greatest successes so far?
Changing the face of Music Uganda and Ugandan music being recognized in Kenya.
What inspires you?
The love of making Ugandan music known and seeing the artists get their worth.
How important in your opinion is Music Uganda to the Ugandan music industry today?
Music Uganda is important due to the fact that we interview artists, cover events, put their latest videos and songs on the site. Hence Ugandans and people all over the world who are interested in our music scene can check it out and get informed. It has played a good role in promoting the artists.
How did you get involved with Music Uganda?
Paul 'P-Tech' Mwandha
I met Paul (R.I.P) in 2002, on campus, while lining up to pay for my tuition. He asked me to come to his office and see what he did, and so I did just for the sake of it. At that time, I was not interested much in Ugandan music. He told me what he did. He later asked me to help him type articles and be his secretary. Since then I have been in Music Uganda and I have never looked back.
What are the plans for Music Uganda in the next 5 years?
We plan to start event management including organising tours in and out of the country. Managing and promoting artists, cd packaging and distributing – setting up a music store dealing in Ugandan Music and anything concerned with it. Lastly, a dream that Paul and I always had, was having a Music Uganda House where by you can walk in and get anything concerning Ugandan Music.
Who sponsors the videos and audio clips on the site?
No one yet.
Now that is a shame. There should be more investment in the Ugandan music industry. How is it determined who is number one on Music Uganda? Is it based on the number of people who listen and watch the clips or do you use another measuring metre?
Yes it based on the number of people who listen and watch. No we do not use another measuring metre; we just check the hits in our statistics.
How can musicians get their videos played on the site?
All they have to do is get me their videos in VCD format then I review them and after put them up.
Who have been the ten most popular musicians on Music Uganda since its inception?
That will be very hard to get. It will take me close to three months to get that information cause I will have to go through statistics of 6 years thus 72 months.
Tell us more about the anniversary Memorial Concert for the Late Paul Mwandha a.k.a Ptech on the 28th Sept. 2006. What are the plans for that day?
On 28th September, 2006 there will be a basically the Memorial Concert where we will introduce the new Music Uganda Magazine called "Music Uganda". Unlike other entertainment magazines this will be sold with a cd containing the music of the featured artists. The first issue is dedicated to the "Fallen Stars." The magazine section will be run by Cleopatra Koheirwe. I am also planning on reviving the Musician's Forest.
You are clearly a good-looking female. How do you manage to keep such a low profile on Music Uganda?
Thank you for the compliment. I just do the right thing at the right time in the right place and most importantly have the right friends.
Is it a deliberate move to make sure that people focus on your work and not your looks?
Julie Erusa Nattabi
I don't do it intentionally but I want people to appreciate and focus on what I have to offer them not how I look.
Who are your favorite musicians?
In Uganda I don't have a favourite artist, but across borders Aaliyah and Eminem.
What is your social life like? You must be having an active one to update us with all the going ons in the UG music scene?
I don't have much of a social life. Most of the time, I am working even on the shows. When I am free (which is rare) I watch movies and sleep because I take those few minutes or hours as a blessing.
What do you think of the women empowerment movement in Uganda?
I think it's very nice. It has led to competition between both men and women for the same thing thus leading to women modernisation, women fighting for their rights and all that.
What is next for you? What are your ambitions?
Well, let me get the magazine started then I will figure out what next.
Any special message for your Music Uganda fans?
Thank you for the love and support and keep checking Music Uganda. Believe in yourselves, the sky is the limit!
For more information on Julie Erusa and Music Uganda, please go to www.musicuganda.com
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First published: September 28, 2006
Jane won the Miss Africanada beauty pageant 2000 in Toronto where she was also named one of the new voices of Africa after reciting one of her poems. In 2004, she was published in T-Dot Griots-An Anthology of Toronto's Black storytellers and in February 2005, her art piece Namyenya was featured as the poster piece for the Human Rights through Art-Black History Month Exhibit.
She is the recipient of numerous awards for her poetry, art and playwriting and is becoming a household name in Toronto circles. Please visit her website at www.nteyafas.com.