Malawian musicians need to set themselves apart from the dim in the industry if they desire to be counted.
In an exclusive interview with On the Arts, Amsterdam-based Malawian musician Marco Sadik noted that there is a lot of redundant music coming out of the country.
“Malawi has great talent when it comes to music. I’ve heard a lot of great upcoming artists so far. One thing I noticed is that many of them sound the same, they lack their own identity,” he said.
He says if the music industry is to move forward, there is need to start appreciating local talent.
“We also need more production companies to support talented artists. But yes, we are far from calling those record labels,” he remarks.
The sultry-voiced dreadlocked musician, who serenaded music lovers with his number one hit Linda a decade ago, has recently been working as an audio engineer in Kenya.
Over the past five years, he disappeared from the music scene after he relocated to Kenya and then Amsterdam, where he pursued music studies.
The musician recently graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in audio engineering from the School of Audio Engineering in Amsterdam.
Sadik says the music education has given him new insights into how the industry works.
“Education has taught me so much and trust me, I haven’t stopped learning. In this industry where I work as an audio engineer, the challenges are so many and you learn new things all the time.
“Music is business; this industry is consisted of so many pillars that do not exist in Malawi and, of course, other parts of Africa. For instance, there are record labels, professional recording studios, A&R, songwriters, composers, music publishers and, marketing and distribution. And I now understand the role of each one of these because of my studies,” he says.
But the artist notes that there is so much more the Malawian music industry needs apart from music education and how the industry functions.
“To be honest, it’s not really about artists acquiring formal music education to improve the industry. Like I said, music is business. It’s time for all entrepreneurs, corporates, the government and other players to chip in and build this industry.
“This industry needs support. It’s working in Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and other places. I believe it can work in Malawi too. I’m not saying we should become like South Africa or Nigeria from the word go. One step at a time. And I dare say, kudos to the few that are already working hard in building this industry. Keep it up,” he said.
But the musician says, in all his travels, his mind is set on helping to improve the music standards back home.
Said Sadik: “I love Malawi, it’s my home. I would definitely love to share my knowledge in the industry with fellow musicians, artist managers, producers, or anyone who is serious about it.
“Despite my busy schedule with my job, I’m putting together my own recording studio, which will make it very easy for me to record my next project that is just hanging. The music will never stop, I’m just occupied with my other job as an audio engineer; hence, I have no free time to record new material.”
Born in Mzuzu on August 4 1984, Sadik is the fifth child of his Malawian mother and Mozambican father.
He started singing hip hop at the age of 10 and at 13, he won his first competitive music competition.
Aged 18, Marco started to DJ as a hobby.
By the time he was 20 he was working as a professional DJ in Mzuzu and this is where his fan base first took root.
He moved to Blantyre in 2001 where he began to explore different musical styles.
During this period, Sadik crossed over to focus more on Afro-beat/Afro-soul music writing, which he felt better fitted the sound of his unique voice.
In 2005, he worked as a DJ at Star FM where he also wrote promotion and jingles and it was here that he begun to discover his ability to put words to music.
By 2006, Marco could no longer ignore his real passion to be a music artist and begun writing his own inspired songs.
It was this work which later became the material on his first album Umodzi, released in June 2008 and features his hit song Linda.