Phy Mwihaki Ng’etich is well known for winning the musical competition Maisha superstar. The 23 year old tells us of her journey, life and what her new hit song taboo (Taabu) means to her.
1. You love your head wraps.
2. How many do you have?
Countless. I actually want to start a head wraps line.
3. Tell me a little about Phy.
I was born and raised in Sotik town. People think I am city girl but I am a village girl to the core. I went to Moi Girls High School Eldoret and now I am at the University of Nairobi studying real estate.
4. When did you know music was it?
I was in class 3 and then my teacher Mr. Frank heard me humming and he felt that we could do something with my voice. I got a solo in the school music festivals and went all the way to the nationals. I remember when I came back I was in the newspapers and a local celebrity is Sotik. I knew I could do it, I was just not keen on pursuing it. I officially began working on it after high school.
What did you do exactly?
I went to Sauti Academy, the conservatoire music and YouTube Academy
What instrument can you play?
Tell me the story behind taboo.
I wrote taboo two years ago as an assignment for a music class. I was dating someone at the time but I was a bit of confused. I think everyone goes through it sometime, even married people. You might be in a loving committed relationship but still find other people interesting.
Are you in a committed relationship now?
Yes I am. I conquered. Laughs.
How did winning Maisha Superstar change your life?
It was everything;good and bad in equal measure. I had three months of anxiety, being stretched too thin emotionally. However I appreciated because it would have taken 10 years in the industry to learn what I took out from the three months.
Have you figured it out?
I have a clue. The thing is in Kenya we might not have a concrete plan laid down for us but I have an idea of how to go about it.
What was your big break in your musical journey?
I have to say Airtel Trace Star Search. After four years of being a ‘struggling artist’, I asked God for a sign. A week later I got a call from Airtel informing me that I had made it to the top ten. I came second in that and that is when people began to notice me. A week later I started Maisha and the rest as they say is history. It was also God confirming that music was my destiny.
What is the weirdest thing you have read about yourself online?
That I was dating Josh from Amos and Josh. We have a good friendship people just read too much into it.
So who are you actually dating?
Someone. He is very artsy. He is actually the one who does my photography and overall very much involved in my career. He is really supportive. When I shot my first video, I was so overwhelmed and he helped with logistics. He even made sandwiches for everyone on the set and made sure everyone got home. He is very hands on with my career.
He uses the name ZORDFILES on social media.
Who else supports you?
My parents. They took me through music school and at some point they were worried it would not pay off but they still had my back. Today they are so proud of me. My mum who is very introverted is the first one to share my success when she goes to the office. Overall my family is very supportive. I got the music bug from my grandmother who is a Kikuyu singer with two albums. When you go to RiverRoad just look for Phyllis Mwihaki.
Define your fashion sense.
Urban, edgy, creative and ever changing.
How may crop tops do you have
May be you should have a crop tops and turban line.
Yes that could work.
What is your biggest fear?
Failure. I am an overachiever. In school I wanted to be number one. It is a good thing and a bad thing. Sometimes it makes one not appreciate life’s pace but it gives results and I am happy with that.
What are you most proud of?
Good question. No one has asked me that before. When I was younger someone gave me extra money for change and I took it back. They even called my mum to commend her on raising me well. I was really proud of myself in that moment.
The second has to be the day I bought a car with my own money.
What the most interesting thing a fan has done when they meet you?
Freaking out totally and then mumbling something but the sweetest thing a fan has done for me is buy me a phone cover. Two of them actually. They imported the covers for me. I thought that was really sweet of them.
What are you watching now?
I am crushing on ADD on YouTube and Timeless concerts. It’s all music. I used to be a fan of series but I lack the patience now.
If you had to pick one person in the world to spend a day with who would it be?
Pharrellll. I love Pharrelll. If I was to get a tattoo it would be Pharrelll and Lauryn Hill. Pharrelll is so soft spoken and has an amazing aura to him. He is also a music genius and he is grounded.
She is one of the most beautiful women in the world. She is also God fearing. Then she literally has one album that sorted her life out. I also love her work ethic.
Do you think you are professional?
Yes I am. I really respect people and it has done well for me as I always get referrals from people. When I did Tinga Tinga someone referred to me to an Italian Lady who was developing an app and I ended up voicing it.
What’s your best song from your album?
Let’s say two. Taboo because it is very raw and real. I also like Jipe Shughuli with Kato Change it also very personal. It was a one take emotional song.
How is your album doing?
Very well actually. It was rushed but having written songs before it was a very cool experience. Kenya is also not an album nation and we are yet to get there. That notwithstanding people ask me for my album and I am pushing the link and we get lots of play on Waabeh.
Let’s play favourites. Obviously favourite person is Pharrell.
Favourite song now?
Girls that dance by Masego and Medasin
Maldives.I really want to go there.
Chicken. Boiled, fried, and roasted any kind of chicken.
Woman Thou Art Loose. I really like it.
Who do you look up to?
I look up to different people for different things. Tori Kelly I learned how to play guitar by watching her videos. I also like how she moved from doing covers to being a Grammy nominated artist. Beyoncé for professionalism and her work ethic. I want to be that immersed in my work. And lastly my mum, for the strong woman she is.
What challenges have you faced so far?
There are very many people who are opinionated about your career but the four years in the trenches gave me a tough skin. I am happy to be a signed artist that helps with finances but that in itself is a challenge because we are all growing together. Then just being an artist with a melancholic personality.
What’s your life mantra?
The bible. My favourite verse is Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and everything else shall follow – (Matthew 6:33) .
What would you like to tell people as we close?
Support Kenyan artists. There are people who are really good. Sometimes there is no love for the arts. We as artists need to work hard for that but the fans need to cut us some slack. We are in this together and we will make this industry grow.
Update: Since the publishing of this article Phy was featured on the CNN’s weekly show African Voices. Congratulations Phy. Let’s get that Grammy now. You can watch the CNN interview here.
This article was first published on hapakenya.com