Known for her powerful vocals, songstress Dela Maranga, popularly referred to as Dela, broke into the scene with a brilliant Swahili rendition of Adelle’s ‘Hello.’

Two years later, and a couple of chat-toppers to her name, the Taurus Muzik artist is a real force to reckon with. Her star keeps shining and a debut album is almost here.

She spoke to Buzz about her rumored relationship with Timmy Tdat, alleged favoritism at Coke Studio Africa, Bebe Cool’s claims that Kenyan artists are lazy, and more.

Let’s get this straight, what’s really going on between you and Timmy? You keep denying it but aren’t you guys an item?
Hahaha! I like that, everyone wants it like that and every time I say we are not, no one seems to believe me. We’re just good friends, best of friends for that matter, nothing serious, we can never date. What we have between us is a good working relationship and tremendous respect for each other.

Sometime last year Ugandan dancehall veteran Bebe Cool claimed he had never heard of you before Coke Studio and went on to add that Kenyan artistes are lazy save for Sauti Sol. Did you ever confront him?
No! Towards what end? Honestly, I really felt offended by the remarks coming from one of the big artistes who should be mentoring others rather than judging.  But I would say they were relative, just an opinion that everyone is entitled to.

What did you make of those sentiments about Kenyans artistes?
Kenyans artistes lazy, really? I wonder who gave him that authority to judge. Just because most of our songs don’t play in Uganda doesn’t necessarily mean we are lazy. If I may ask, how many Ugandan musicians get airplay in Kenya, very few? To you, do I look like I’m lazy? I got a catalogue and everyone is aware of it; maybe except for him and that doesn’t bother me at all. All in all, we moved on and a majority of us agree that there was no basis in what he said.

Talking of Coke Studio, for a long time there have been allegations that Coke Studio favours some artistes and that’s why we get to see them “recycled” in the project. What’s your take on that? The information I got from them is that they always do market research to come up with the list of artistes who they invite for a given edition. I don’t know what methods or criteria they use to arrive at the list.

You have been there a couple of times. Couldn’t there be some sort of favouritism because as it stands we’ve got so many artistes doing pretty much well but have never been invited to Coke Studio?
I agree, I have been there three times and it’s not because of any favours. I have never asked to be there. I always get an invitation from them and when it comes should I let go such an opportunity? My life is all about music, that’s all I do every day and I won’t waste any chances that come my way.

Time and again you have proved to have powerful fluent Swahili lyrics compared to most of your fellow Nairobi artistes who prefer use of Sheng in their acts, has that helped you in any way to break into the Tanzanian market?
Yes, it has and one thing I realized with Tanzanians, once they love what you do, they will forever be. My ‘Hello’ cover really opened doors for me there. I had a tour of the country doing shows and I sincerely loved the reception. And thanks to that I was able to do several collabos with big shots whose names I won’t mention right now because they are incorporated in my upcoming album that I will be dropping in February.

Talking about collaboration, why is it that when you feature in them — save for ‘Mafeelings’ and ‘Hello’ — you tend to shine more than solo jams?
Really, Do I? I think I will take offense! Anyway, I can’t really explain that. Maybe it is because before I do a collabo with anyone I first have to fall in love with their music and become a fan of that which they are doing. Then from there, we got to have some sort of chemistry, build a connection that will create a conducive atmosphere for both of us to work together. In a nutshell, I think that’s what sums it up, I guess, even though there are much more details that come into play.

What do you think of the stiff competition that we see in showbiz and does it frustrate you? Not at all. Competition is healthy for the industry. It ensures that everybody is on their toes and that way it helps us to grow. People should release more songs even if it means one every week and I assure you that will make a difference in the game.

Kenyan music industry is dominated by male artistes, as one of the few female artistes doing well, what are you doing to try and even the numbers? I mentor young female artiste all the time. I’m always there for them whenever they need advice. I also support what they do, like always attending their shows just to show love and keep motivating them to grind even harder in what they are doing. And as you rightly put it, we are few in the game and thus we need one another to push to the next level.