Patrick Eugene Njuguna, better known by his stage name Patoh Njuguna, is a singer, composer and songwriter best known for the song ‘Disco’ with Eric Wainaina and Frasha.
Njuguna, who is also known for the single ‘Nyani ya Rongai’, plays the keyboard and the guitar and holds a Diploma in Business and Technology in Music from Brookhouse School.
The 26-year-old spoke to Buzz about his musical journey.
Tell us a bit about yourself
My stage name is Patoh Njuguna. I have been in the music industry since 2010. I recorded an album titled “My Inspiration, My Paradise”, as soon as I was done with high school.
I then realised that I had no knowledge of the industry, which is why I went to music school. I attended Brookhouse for two years and worked there for another two years, then came back into the industry.
But, I would really describe myself in just two words: a charismatic performer.
When and why did you start singing?
I used to sing as a kid in primary school, but I decided to do it professionally after high school.
Is your family musical?
Oh yeah. My mum is a singer as well. She inspired me to start singing. She was part of the church choir.
I definitely got the gift from her. She loved country music, and was especially a big fan of Kenny Rogers. That really influenced the way I write because the songs from my first album were more or less structured as country.
What is music to you?
Music is an expression and an extension of Patoh Njuguna. When I write, I write who I am, what I feel. I also sing what I am, and what I feel.
If you didn’t become a musician, what do you think you would have been right now?
A footballer. (Laughs). My first love was football, actually. I was really good at it. My high school did not focus on extra-curricular activities as much.
As I digress, (Laughs), funny enough, I wanted to study Psychology while in high school also, because I really wanted to become a paediatrician. Not that I was interested in medicine, the word just attracted me.
There were only two students who registered for the class, and it had to be cancelled. That’s why I opted for music after. I definitely had a love for music, but just the practical part of it, not the theory.
What was the first instrument that you played?
A recorder. This was in primary school. Strangely, the second one I tried to play was the trumpet. Joseph Hellon, who was my teacher, tried pushing me to do it, but I just couldn’t. That’s when I moved to the guitar.
What do you feel is the best song you’ve released and why?
‘Disco’, which I did with Eric Wainaina and Frasha, is by far the most famous one, since it has the most views on YouTube.
But the one that I feel that most appeals to people when I perform is titled ‘Nyani ya Rongai’. I was going through a crisis when I composed it. This was while I was working at Brookhouse.
I was playing the piano at the time, and the melody just came into my head. I had the chorus on my phone for two years, before I composed the verses. The message of the song basically is don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine. It is such a strong message.
How would you describe your music style and genre?
I really do not have a specific one. What I do is to feel the message, and express it with whatever genre it comes out with.
Starting off, it was country, as I said. When I was younger, I couldn’t write Swahili songs, probably because I mostly listened to songs written in English. I challenge myself, however.
I not only wrote a Swahili song, but a Taarab/Chakacha one in particular. It has gotten easier for me. I also write reggae songs. ‘Disco’ is funk, though the original was hip-hop.
Which artiste would you like to collaborate with in the near future?
Locally, Sauti Sol, even though it sounds like such a cliché. Also, Timmy T Dat. There’s just something about him. Song writers really inspire me, so internationally, I would love to work with NeYo, Phil Collins and Bruno Mars.
Do you think you could get better as a musician? And if so, how would you achieve that?
Of course! First of all, I’m currently learning how to dance really properly.
Secondly, I have not trained my voice quite well. Yes, I sing a lot, but I know I need proper vocal training by a really good teacher in order to reach a certain level. I’m waiting for the right time for that to happen.
I am also trying to improve my guitar and keyboard skills, and I’m thinking of learning a new instrument; a saxophone or violin maybe.
Who would you say influenced your music?
As I mentioned, the country singers did as a child; the likes of Kenny Rogers and Jim Reeves. As I grew up, Phil Collins influenced me mostly, but also Brian Adams, Sauti Sol, Chris Adwar, Eric Wainaina, E-Sir – I really loved him.
What’s your motivation today?
My wife, and growing family. We’re about to have a baby. My mum as well, and my in-laws.
Where would you say you are headed as an artist?
I’d like to be one of the best live performers we’ve had; it’s everything to me. I feel most alive when I am on stage. One of my best traits as a performer is engaging the crowd. I am also currently trying to build a music business, where young musicians can become something.
What gigs do you have lined up this year?
I have an event on May 31 at The Elephant. My team and I decided to have about four events a year, meaning we’ll have a bigger gig in August and an even bigger one in December. There are however more gigs in the course of the year that I am usually invited to.
What do you mostly enjoy about your work as an artiste?
Performing and writing, mostly. I am of the protagonist personality, so I’m most happy when I see other people happy. Being able to help others through my music also means a lot to me.
I teach as well, and not instruments or what not. I teach others what I learnt in music business. It’s not a lot, but it is much better learning it before going straight into the industry.
If you can have fans remember one thing about you, what would it be?
I think the message from “Nyani ya Rongai”. It is more or less an embodiment of Patoh Njuguna.
If you had one message to give to your fans, what would it be?
Don’t be afraid to be yourself. We try to become what other people want, and we end up losing ourselves and changing who we are in the process.
What hidden talents do you have?
I can make a good omelette, and a nice cup of tea. (Laughs). Anyway, I’m good at reading people and playing with their minds.
What’s the weirdest question you’ve been asked in an interview?
Honestly, all my interviews have been really professional, so I haven’t had those