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EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Wasafi Records Producer, Lizer Classic

If you go to a club, you can easily see how people are responding to songs, which songs people dance to, so you produce music depending on what kind of music people like in clubs. You just listen and observe which songs are played often and which one are liked by the audience.

One in every two hit songs that has come out of Wasafi Records has been produced by the talented Iraju Hamisi Mjege, better known by his stage name Lizer Classic.

You would recognise from the “Ayo Lizer” drop at the beginning of the popular hit tracks.

Q: Please tell us when did you start producing music?

Lizer: I can’t remember exactly which year but it is like 10 years ago.

Q: Where were you working before?

Lizer: I was working alone at home in Kigoma. I used to sing. Later I realised that if I could learn music production, then I could produce my own songs. But after learning music production I realised I had ventured deep into it, I therefore left singing. I had gone to work in a neighboring country because Kigoma is closer to Burundi than Dar es Salaam. I worked there for five years. I met Diamond in Burundi. He asked if I could work with him. He was setting up Wasafi Records Label. I told him I had a contract at that time but I could join Wasafi, when the contract ends.
However, there was violence/war in Burundi, hence I went back to Tanzania.I then approached Diamond regarding the offer he had made.

Q: How long have you worked with Wasafi Records?

Lizer: I have worked with Wasafi Records for three and a half years now.

Q: In beat making some people say that you must know how to play the keyboard, did you go to school or did you learn on your own?

Lizer: I knew how to make beats even before I knew how to play the keyboard. Later on I taught myself how to play the keyboard. I don’t even know how the keys are called but when someone sings i just play the right key. You don’t need to know how to play the keyboard. If you are talented in music, you can produce music without playing the keyboard.

Q: So, if you knew how to play the keyboard very well, you would be a better producer?

Lizer: I do not want to know a lot in playing the keyboard, because they say too much of something is dangerous/poisonous. The little that I know I would say is what makes Lizer. I am OK. If I know too much, I might start adding too many things in songs while today’s music doesn’t need much; just little, simple things.

Q: What would you say made your records take off?

Lizer: I would say because I go with time. I try to understand what people want at a particular time. Wasafi Records is a big label which can push songs very easily. Also, if the music is good, it is easily accepted.

Q: Which genres of music would you say people want to listen to?

Lizer: If you go to a club, you can easily see how people are responding to songs, which songs people dance to, so you produce music depending on what kind of music people like in clubs. You just listen and observe which songs are played often and which one are liked by the audience. Then you produce the same.

Q: Which softwares do you prefer to work with?

Lizer:I use Studio One 4 for all my work; I make beats, record, mix and even mastering.

Q: what five things do you think anyone venturing into music production should know or do in order to succeed?

Lizer: First of all, one should be confident in what he/she is doing. Have confidence in yourself, others will later have confidence in you. Secondly, you should aim at making music that is marketable. Third, you should be good at choosing instruments that will be good for your beats. I take time to choose instruments, until when i get the right instruments. Fourth, you should know which artist is the most suitable for the beat you have created. Fifth, there should be teamwork between you the producer and the artist. Both of you need to do your best so that the music is good. Otherwise, when the producer does a good job and the artists doesn’t then the work won’t be good.

Q: What do you call your music?

Lizer: My beats don’t have a style, you can find reggae, mixed with RnB, ETC. I don’t have a formula.

Q: Which musician would you like to work with either local or international?

Lizer: there are many. I wish to work with Chris Brown. I can’t mention all of them. Every producer wants to grow as the days go by.

Q: Currently people are talking about Afro beat, is your beat among them? I have heard you are giving West Africans a run for their money.

Lizer: I have different styles. My songs can even have Indian beats or Arabian beats. I mix different music styles then I give it a name.

Q: Do you think one day East Africa will one day compete with West Africa?

Lizer: We are trying to reach that level where people can say that East Africa has good music.

Q: How do you feel when people mention your name in the audience?

Lizer: It makes me feel that I am doing a great job. It encourages me to keep on producing good music. I do not relax just because I am now known. I keep on doing better and better.

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