Gilad Millo is back on the music scene after taking some time off due to writer’s block. His comeback track is a feel-good love song dubbed Swahili Girl featuring Israeli star singer Eliad Nachum.
Gilad and Eliad talked to Daily Nation about the project.
Why did you feel Eliad was a good fit for this song?
Gilad: An Israeli friend who was visiting Kenya asked me, which Israeli artist I would want to collab with. I told him I had been in Kenya for close to 20 years and was completely disconnected from the Israeli music scene, but on a recent visit to Israel I heard this song, which stuck in my head. I sang him the song and he said “oh sure that’s Eliad I know him let me reach out to him”. He reached out to Eliad and told him about me and my offer to write a song together and Eliad said yes. It took a couple more months for us to find the time and then we connected and wrote ‘Swahili Girl’.
Eliad: Well, Gilad and I wrote the song together over a 6 hour Skype call. I never wrote a song without being in the same room with my writers, but I think that because of the distance, the topic of the song became about friendship, love and memories.
It seems the correspondence took some time, how did you make the connection and how was the interaction while making the song like?
Gilad: It took a while to coordinate our schedules, but when we finally did, we got on a Skype call, I was visiting New York at the time and Eliad was in Israel. As soon as we started the call, he picked up the guitar and we started vibing on some initial lyrics I had been playing with, aiming to sing about how attractive the Swahili language is – “when you speak to me Swahili, girl I can hear the birds singing to me yeah”. That later evolved into ‘Swahili Girl’.
What are Eliad’s thoughts on Swahili language and making music in it?
Eliad: Oh God! Such a cool Language! At first it was difficult for me to say the words properly, but Gilad helped me with that.
Have you had any Kenyan experience before this or was the first interaction with anything Kenyan or Swahili?
Eliad: Well, I’ve never been to Kenya before, but I would love to come visit! The African music and culture are a huge part of my music and influences!
How has the reception been like in Israel, from the feedback so far?
Gilad: From my side, I can definitely feel Eliad’s star power in Israel, because I just picked up a few hundred new followers on Instagram and Facebook, all of whom are clearly Eliad’s fans and they love the song.
Eliad: When people here in Israel listen to Gilad’s voice, they really can’t believe he is Israeli. He is definitely an ambassador of love.
Gilad, you took quite some time off from music and went on to other projects, talk to us about that.
Gilad: My last release in November 2019 was “Sitaki Mwingine” and then it’s true I took six months off before releasing “Mawingu” in May. The truth is, I experienced a bit of what they call writer’s block. I wasn’t happy with the stuff I was writing and, being my own worst critic, I preferred not to record things I wasn’t comfortable with. When the lockdown came in early April, my creative juices started flowing and I wrote and recorded several songs – the first of which was Mawingu.
I still intend to release several of those songs, but I decided to put them on hold for a bit in order to share “Swahili Girl” which is a project Eliad and I began back in 2017 and kept getting shelved for one reason or another until we both agreed that now is a perfect time to share and put a smile on everyone’s face.
Does this mean you’re back from your hiatus and what should we expect in the near future?
Gilad: I am definitely back and have no plans to go anywhere. Kenyan music is my home, I’m comfortable here and I enjoy lots of love from the fans. I have a bunch of songs lined up for release and I am working on my own virtual live concert together with Superband.
How has the pandemic situation been for you?
Gilad: Like everyone, I guess, Covid-19 caught me unprepared to deal with such an extreme life change. Our son had just joined the army in Israel and we thought we would go back and visit him in a couple of months, but we haven’t seen him since December.
On the work front, I am really on music and run my own public relations firm, and both of those pretty much stopped creating an income sometime in March so I focused my attention on a farming project to keep myself busy.