Acclaimed as one of Kenya’s most prolific singer, songwriter, karaoke host, and entertainer, the sassy but shy former radio personality Sanaipei Tande popularly known as Sana, gained prominence after winning the 2004 East Africa Coca Cola Popstars Talent Search together with two other band mates. Later on, she had a short stint at Capital FM. In 2007 she joined Kiss 100 and thereafter Nation FM in 2013 until her termination in September 2015 despite her daily mid-morning show that garnered the station’s highest listenership. She has collaborated with renowned artists releasing a number of singles like ‘Kwaheri’ with Jua Cali, ‘Mulika Mwizi’ with Kidum, ‘Big Shot remix’ with Madtraxx, ‘Not The One’ with Dan Chizi Aceda, ‘I am here’ with K-Denk, and ‘You’ with Big Pin. In June 2014, Sana released a sensual video for her single titled ‘Mfalme wa Mapenzi’ sparking controversy due to what some described it as ‘raunchy’ nature, and in March 2015 she released ‘Ankula huu,’ and the video was well received. In an exclusive interview with Michael Wandati, Sana reveals her lucrative music and radio career, personal life and much more.
KD: For those who are not familiar with you, who is Sanaipei Tande?
I am somewhat shy, simple in my lifestyle, transparent in my dealings, humble in my relations with people and dedicated to whatever I set my mind to.
KD: Tell us about the best experience(s) you’ve had in your musical career, what has been your career highlights?
I believe one of the best experiences was winning Coca Cola Pop-stars. I travelled for the first time out of Kenya, got exposed to this whole new world of entertainment and got the opportunity to not only meet but interact and work with some of the heavy weights in entertainment.
KD: You have some good songs about love, is there anybody you hate in this world?
Hahahaha… hate is such a strong word that also requires too much energy to contain. I can’t say I like EVERYBODY but like I always say, if you don’t like something or someone, steer clear.
KD: When was your big career breakthrough?
From the onset of winning Coca Cola Popstars was a breakthrough for me. Once I stepped into the limelight, opportunities just came trickling in, in my music and other areas. I collaborated with music heavyweights, I modelled for top magazines, emceed big events, worked at several radio stations etc.
KD: Going back to winning the 2004 East Africa Coca Cola Popstars Talent Search, what major transitions did you undergo during and after the competitions?
I would cite my way of dealing with people in my industry to fans as well as how to deal with the press has changed immensely. Additionally, I’ve learnt to handle the adrenaline rush or what they call “stage fright” right before and while performing.
KD: What are you working on these days? Any upcoming projects?
I’m working on several things other than finishing up on some more singles, I have ventured into acting and make an appearance on one of our local programmes ‘Auntie Boss.’ I’m currently a voice over artiste for a show called ‘Project 254’ on Supersport and I also host two of the best karaoke nights in Nairobi….and many more to come!
KD: How did you get to land into radio as a presenter and how is the experience?
This was very random actually. I was at Capital FM for a magazine interview and Chris Kirubi spotted me, asked Eve D’Souza to train me and the rest is history.
KD: Who were your mentors or what has been of major influence in your life? What motivates you?
I’m a very family oriented individual and so automatically my family plays a huge role in influencing many if not 99 per cent of the areas in my life. My motivation also comes from knowing that I earned something as opposed to it just being handed to me. If I earned it, I own it and so no one can take it from me.
KD: What else fascinates you besides music and radio?
Chemistry! I partly studied pharmacy right before Popstars then broke off after winning the competition. With biological, analytical, physical, organic to inorganic chemistry I was in HEAVEN!
KD: What’s one thing that would surprise many people to learn about you?
Very few things in life intrigue me. It takes a lot for something or someone to magnetize and capture my attention.
KD: What was your favourite station and music to listen to when you were a kid?
I grew up on a lot of Mariah Carey, Michael Bolton, Julio Iglesias because of my mum and Atlantic star because of my father but these were all on tape. I never listened to radio when I was a kid.
KD: What is the one truth that has held constant throughout your music career?
My personality has remained intact. Fame hasn’t changed me one bit.
KD: What did you want to be when you were growing up?
Interestingly I wanted to be a singer. That changed as I grew older and started gaining interest in Chemistry back in secondary school but hey, here we are.
KD: “Local, local, local” has always been radio and television mantle, how do you rate Kenya’s media involvement in promoting artistic local content?
It would be unfair to place a blanket assumption on all media mode outlets as I don’t listen to or watch all of them, but I feel output of content should be equal to quality of content and that’s debatable with regard to the particular stations policy on quality. I find this issue tricky so I won’t rate.
KD: What led you to a career in music?
This wasn’t planned. I was terrified of auditions and so I had ruled out ever trying but then, my brother found out about Popstars and informed my parents of the competition and they encouraged me to go.
KD: What’s the coolest promotion you’ve ever been involved with?
Other than Popstars? LOL very recently a Sport-pesa event held in January 2016. It was very well put together and professionally handled. I felt like a star!
KD: After what can be termed as premature dismissal at Nation Media Group’s Nation FM as a promising radio presenter, should we expect Sanaipei’s sultry voice back on radio airwaves anytime soon?
I would love to get back into the studio and chat the day away with fans, listeners and contributors, It’s a good way to learn, be in-touch and remain relevant…. so here’s hoping.
KD: You have always maintained looking stunning, what is your secret?
Thank you. Self-acceptance and being comfortable in my skin. When you strive to look and be like somebody else you are fighting with what was given to you. That conflict within you can adversely affect “the person, “You. So, I work hard at being a better version of me and not be somebody else.
KD: What would your friends say they appreciate the most about you?
They would say my realness. I’m real talk real action all the time.
KD: Tell us about a childhood accident/scar. Everyone has one of those!
Hmmm…I have a scar on my right foot that I got after I slipped off a gate I was swinging on and one of the bottom spikes dug into my foot! I saw WHITE! Hahaha.
KD: Any tips you can share with upcoming musicians out there trying to do what you do?
Figure out why you’re pursuing music and stay true to it and you will succeed. You can never go wrong if you let your real passion for something drive you.
KD: Where do you find your inspiration for song ideas?
Experience is inspiration. Mine or others close to me contribute heavily to my music.
KD: What do you find to be the most challenging part of being a female musician?
From a personal experience, more often than not it’s always been the fact that just because you are a woman then a man has the right to pursue you or make sexual advances irrespective of what you feel or think. I’ve had to learn how to deal with that too and it’s not pretty.
KD: Regarding your music, you’ve put out a few singles, would you say there is a particular focal point? Is there any certain sound or topic that you are trying to get across, or you are still trying to develop your sound?
I’ve never believed in limiting myself to a particular sound or style or topic. People say I only write love songs and as much as that is a constant theme in most, there is always a deeper meaning to the song but people only hear “the surface.”
KD: How do you define success? How can you quantify it?
I define success as achieving positive life-impacting goals YOU set out for yourself, not what other people think you’ve achieved or could/should achieve.
KD: Are you a fan of social media? Does it play a role in your daily life, or is it more or less just for marketing purposes?
Honestly no. Social media for me is purely for work and maybe giving my two cents on an issue I feel strongly about. By the time I share photos I have long debated the need to.
KD: With all that beauty accompanied with a smart mind, many single and searching gentlemen (Team Mafisi), would like to know, is Sanaipei Tande single or she is seeing someone?
I am single.
KD: There is nothing wrong with positivity especially in today’s day and age. Is there any fast growing upcoming Kenyan music artist that you recommend we keep an eye out for?
It’s been a long time principle of mine not to rate fellow Kenyan musicians, it’s not my place and it keeps the peace.
KD: Is there anything else you would like to share with your fans?
The universe has an abundance of ALL your desires, you just need to show it that you want it REAL bad and it will be given unto you. Be passionate.