As an emerging artist, Pierra Akwero better known as Pierra, is ready to take over the R&B and model scene. Her dream started at an early age when Pierra saw the likes of Juliana Kanyomozi, Celine Dion, and Toni Braxton live on television. Fueled by the musicality of these veteran singers, Pierra soon became fascinated by music. Singing around the house was part of her daily ‘routine’ as a youngster and while she was adamant that she was going to be a singer, Pierra decided to pursue her true passion. It took her several challenges before her first musical release, or to appear on any professional runway for a beauty pageant, but the table was set. In a recent exclusive interview Pierra shared her thoughts with Kampala Dispatch’s Michael Wandati and we bring you the excerpts:
KD: How long have you been in the music game and how did you get started in the first place?
I started my music career in 2012, I always knew I wanted to sing but I was waiting for the right time. Coming from a modeling background, I asked one Brenda Nanyonjo to represent me as the manager, and that is how my career journey started.
KD: Who were your first musical influences that you can remember?
Well luckily, I was exposed to a wide array of music from classical, gospel, rock, soul, R&B. But Artist wise, definitely, Celine Dion, Toni Braxton, Jennifer Lopez, Juliana Kanyomozi, Westlife, Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears and so many more.
KD: Which artists are you currently listening to? And is there anyone of these that you’d like to collaborate with?
Currently I listen to lots of A Pass music, Radio and Weasel, Jennifer Lopez, Jackie Chandiru, Demi Lovato, Cindy Sanyu, and I would love to collaborate with A Pass.
KD: Old school R&B and Soul as done by the veteran singers like Al Green, Luther Vandross, Marvin Gaye or Urban R&B by Usher and R. Kelly, Alicia Keys, which do you prefer and do you think there is any difference at all with the kind of R&B that you do?
I love both Usher and R. Kelly… I wouldn’t like to compare because all music is art and artists should be appreciated in all differences and likeness.
KD: Have you suffered any ‘resistance’ or skepticism from within the industry, or from other artists?
Just like coming into a new place or industry, there is a lot you have to learn; both positive and negative. You just have to accept all with grace, focus and determination to be the best without giving up.The true irony in Art is that everyone has their own opinion and perspective and no one likes everything whether they can appreciate it or not. Music is about feelings, and because our emotions are so diverse, mood oriented, and ever changing, we like so many diverse styles. So I say, rely less on your talent, work more on your craft and the resistance will continually diminish as your work will speak volumes.
KD: Studio work or performing live, which of these do you prefer most and why?
Both are equally important, I love both to be in studio and to perform live because creating music in studio is so fulfilling in a sense that you see your work come to life, and performing gives you the opportunity to present that work to the fans, which in turn pays off to know that your fans love and appreciate you and the music.
KD: Tell us something about the beats and music production on your releases. Who does them and do you work with other producers?
I like to mix up my beats from different genres. So far my beats comprise of reggae, R&B, urban and pop. Lately am working with producer Nessim at Badi Music and producer Baru at Dustville to mention but a few.
KD: On which of your songs do you think you delivered your personal best performance so far, from an emotional and technical point of view?
‘Body language’ is the best song in my career so far. The song having been written by A Pass, I had to be emotionally steady to match the song’s message. Coming from a modeling background, whichever your shape, you should love and appreciate the body that God gave you and walk with all confidence. The technicality in Body language was intense during the entire performance in the video, I was in high heeled shoes,and prior to that, I had two weeks rehearsing every day for the video shoot in heels, but ultimately through strife and struggle, it paid off, the fans loved it.
KD: Which ingredient do you think makes you special and unique as a performing artist?
I just do me! Within my music I strive to make a difference in someone’s life, or to the world; Confidence, drive to be and deliver the best, staying in good health, determination, strong background support, and love drives me to be special and unique.
KD: If you were forced to choose only one, which emotion, more than any other drives you to stay in this tough business. Is it joy, anger, desire, passion or pride and why?
I believe all the above emotions equate to Passion. The passion that I have overrides any rational reasons to do anything else. With all the negatives associated with the music industry, I love doing what I do, and all aspects of my emotions drive me, which is Passion; you will never know how far someone can go, until they show their passion for a given circumstance.
KD: Which aspect of being an independent artist and the music making process excites you most and which aspect discourages you most?
As an independent artist, I am able to choose on any song I want to sing without being tied down by a record label. That gives me the opportunity to spread my wings. What discourages me most is the lack of appreciation of Ugandan music in all forms, bearing in mind that art evolves.
KD: Tell us something about your songwriting process. What usually comes first the lyrics or the beats? And do you prefer the piano or the guitar when writing?
This is going to sound somehowfunny, I can only play the harmonica and no one does that anymore in this era. I always first write the lyrics, and when pleased, I take it to studio for the producer to make the beats.
KD: How involved are you in any or all of the recording, producing, mastering, and marketing processes of your music. Do you outsource any of these processes?
I am involved 100 per cent in all the processes. I have managers, but they inform me on all that they are doing in their respective departments.
KD: The best piece of advice in this business you actually followed so far, and one you didn’t follow, but now you know for sure that you should have?
Vampino once told me, if you feel everything is going down heel and difficult in music, go and watch Aljazeera, see what people are going through, then you’ll know you are better off.
KD: At this point, as an independent artist, which is the one factor you desire most, and feel will undeniably benefit your future (for example increased music distribution, better quality production, more media exposure, bigger live gigs etc…)?
The one factor I desire most at this point in my career is my fans, because they are the ones who support my music, come to my shows and are my future in general. I am nothing without my fans.
KD: Do you consider Internet and all the social media websites, as fundamental to your career, and in R&Bmusic in general, or do you think it has only produced a mass of mediocre “copy-and-paste” artists, who flood the web, making it difficult for real talent to emerge?
Internet and social media are all great platforms and tools for Artist that gave rise to independent artistry. They have both played abig role in my career and I believe it’s the best way to go since everything these days revolves around internet and social media.
KD: How and why did you choose the name Pierra?
Pierra is my real name given to me at birth by my parents. My full name is Pierra Akwero, I decided to only use Pierra because it’s easier, short and unique.
KD: Which song (or songs) in your catalog best describes the sound and style you ultimately prefer and why?
Any song that has a taste of urban /reggae/pop to it describes my sound because it’s the essence of who I am.If someone has never heard my music, I have 3 keywords I personally use to describe my overall sound and style; Smooth, Provocative and Genuine.
KD: What do you think is the biggest barrier you have to face and overcome as an R&B artist and performer, in your quest to achieve your goals and wider spread success?
Corruption and bribery are the two major contending vices in the showbiz industry.
KD: What is the one thing you are not willing or prepared to do ever, in your quest to achieve a successful musical career?
I won’t quite. No one will ever slow me down and discourage me from what I believe in, and where I am heading.
KD: Can you tell us about any new projects or ideas you will be working on in the near future? And do you have any shout-outs?
I have lots of new material in studio that you will get to know about in the near future. I would like to send shout-outs to my fans – Pierra Nation, detractors, my producers, my managers and promoters.