Pinchez Baron Halftym alias P-tar is an acclaimed music producer, audio engineer, musician, writer and marketing consultant – widely considered to be one of the most diverse figures in Kenya’s music business especially the Hip-Hop industry. Pinchez is the lead producer of one of Kenya’s rising recording and rehearsal studios – Wazo Studioz under the management of Wazo Entertainment. Recently, Pinchez has found that his experience in both music production and the business side of the industry often enables him to help artists take themselves and their music to new levels. Out of all the entertainment interviews Michael Wandati have conducted so far, Pinchez’s interview touches upon the most important aspect, the very core essence of it all… the music!
KD: How did you get started in the music and entertainment industry?
I first found my way into music when I met Gosk aka Hitilafu Mann sometime back when still in high school and together we formed Wazomento (Thinking Beyond Mentality)
KD: What schools did you attend and how did they impact your current personality?
I started with home schooling; playing around with music softwares on my brother’s computer, I quickly fell in love with the entire music production process – and specifically with creating something from nothing, after lots of convincing, I enrolled at Homeboyz Academy. I think all these made me be humble and focused.
KD: What made you want to become a music producer?
This is just a big story but it all came from when Wazomento went to do their first recording and what we witnessed, really changed our mentality a lot. Our first instrumental disappeared, second instrumental the same, we recorded the song eventually but never got the master track, I came to realize our instrumentals were being sold out so I chose to do production because I never wanted to go through that same situation ever again.
KD: With all the music producers in the world and in particular Kenya, what made you think that you were still going to be successful in this field?
I never wanted to be successful but wanted to be hopeful to the new artists and give them the best as that’s what I deserved when starting.
KD: There are so many producers sprouting out of their bedrooms and starting production, what should be done to maintain or create the highest level of quality?
It all comes to basic studio knowledge and the kind of equipment to buy
KD: What would be the major reasons to go into a professional studio over a home-recording set-up?
Only if I am doing a full band live recording.
KD: Is it important to go to school to do music or it’s all about talent?
Passion is the most important thing; talent comes last on my list.
KD: Did you have any doubts in your mind that you weren’t going to be successful?
My mission was successful even before I started, (laughs) hood life taught me not to have doubts in anything you are aspiring.
KD: If so, what did you do to prevent yourself from giving up?
Self-motivation and learning from mistakes was key
KD: How long did it take you roughly to start excelling with your music production career?
It didn’t take long because I already had a clientele, and I was good in what I was doing.
KD: WAZO, an interesting Swahili word linked to your studio, what does it do and how many successful products have come out of it?
WAZO in English means thought, and as they say a journey of a thousand miles starts with 1 step, when I was young all what am doing and will continue to do was once just a thought (WAZO) and from when I started until now, I have done a lot — countless successful projects.
KD: What is distinctive about a Wazo Studioz production?
We are not working on hit songs but legendary music
KD: What are some of the biggest mental tools you can obtain to be successful in this field?
Be patient and disciplined nothing comes easy, and when you get it, be easy.
KD: Do artists benefit from networking?
Artist to artist networking that’s a NO. But anyway it’s about building a team around you; building that trust factor with people. I always say, when people want to work with me, my preference is good people or good music-preferably both.
KD: What do you feel are the other elements an artist needs to have as part of their product to go out there and pitch it?
We used to call it ‘MEET THE PEOPLE’ (laughs) from your day to day busy schedule you get a day where you just go round your hood and other places and learn where need be.
KD: How many of the artists you work with are able to match live what they’ve done in the studio? Is this the norm?
90 per cent of the artists I am working with can match live what they’ve done in the studio, I am confident that they are both recording artists and performing artists.
KD: How do you value studio time?
Studio time is a lifetime opportunity; it’s like when you are in a race every second counts.
KD: Where do you find most artists that you work with get their funding?
Most of the artists I am working with are from way back and most of them recommend other new artists, I also go to events and online. Funding, I am sorry I can’t tell because it’s a WAZO thing.
KD: In your opinion, what classifies as a good mix and a good master?
Audibility is the key, and not only that, make sure your mix is entertaining; i.e your audience have spent a lot on car stereos and home theaters so make sure they enjoy that.
KD: What are some of the challenges you face as a producer?
Everyone wants or thinks to be a musician.
KD: How many times have you fallen down, so to speak, and had to get back up and get yourself motivated again to continue?
It happened once and I realized that I crushed loads of dreams, and this tore me apart in pieces. I had to do something about it and here I am.
KD: If there was one word you could use to explain your experience so far while working as a music producer, what would it be?
KD: What steps do you take to advertise and get your business out to the people?
First I make sure my work does most of the advertising itself, and there’s social media, events appearances, word of mouth and I still do meet the people.
KD: There are times in a career when life isn’t going your way, how do you keep your mind on your work without losing focus?
Expect the unexpected and always be positive because everything happens for a reason, it’s either a lesson or a correction.
KD: Tell us about your studio, please. What were the criteria when setting it up and how does this environment influence the creative process? How important, relatively speaking are factors like mood, ergonomics, haptics and technology for you?
When setting up the studio I really wanted a simple and up-to-state, very comfortable and very mobile so that am not glued to one location. Technology comes and goes but your ideas will always be there so work with what you have and judge me with the end product not the equipment and software’s I use.
KD: What do you usually start with when working on a new piece?
It mostly depends on what am working on at the moment, making instrumentals, taking vocals etc.
KD: It has often been suggested that “the future of music is in live.” How do you feel about the ongoing relevance of recordings as an art form? What can recordings provide that a concert cannot?
The future is way past here because as far as I can remember, live recording has been there; recorded music is properly mixed and mastered for future presentations and viewing.
KD: Usually, it is considered that it is the job of the producer and/or engineer to make a recording sound great. But listening is also an active, rather than just a passive process. How do you see the role of the listener in the musical communication process?
It’s not a one man show, the artist first brings what is in his/her mind then we start working on possible outcome, and after successful sessions, that’s where listeners come in before and after the music is fully released publicly, so everyone has a role to play.
KD: You have given so much to the industry, what has it done for you? Is it rewarding enough?
Music is a healer to me and it’s been there through thick and thin, I am still here — meaning music itself is a lifetime reward.
KD: Name drop some of the hit songs you have produced:
Focus – Stun Gichi x Carleboh x Sir-tivah x Stan Nakala Safi
Old n Done – Frenno Di General x Iest Marshal
Just to name a few. The rest I guess you will have to wait to hear!
KD: Is there an artist you want to work with that you have not yet had the opportunity to work with?
Maybe an opportunity to work with my own kid (laughs).
KD: What do you listen to?
Basically I listen to everything from Rhumba, Zilizopendwa, Hip-Hop, Country music, Blues, Reggae, Kwaito, etc. Inspirations and samples come from all genres.
KD: What can we expect from Wazo Studioz in 2019?
2019 is way far because 2018 plans are yet to be implemented quarterly.
KD: Do you listen to your own productions, if yes, how do you feel about your product?
Yes I do listen to my own productions and compare the latest vs the previously released projects, and I feel growth both in me as a producer and my artists.
KD: What advice would you give to anyone trying to venture into music production?
There’s a lot to be explored so be focused and don’t let anyone or anything put you down.
Pinchez Baron Halftym has wisely employs online social networks in his efforts to achieve greater success. Pinchez has become popular by posting Wazo Studioz songs on the internet and using social media to promote them.
YouTube, Twitter and Facebook members help him by telling friends about the music. Pinchez primarily uses YouTube, Twitter and his official Facebook pages to attract clients and network with fellow professionals.
He also benefits when artists enjoy successful concerts and inform fellow performers about the quality of his work. They often discuss the tour manager’s dedication, expertise and wide-ranging talents.