On one occasion in a certain book discussion I learnt that art is a mirror which reflects a number of things for the most part when artists win our hearts as well as minds through their works. To make sure to what extent this fact is true, I made up my mind to do something in a little while. At the end of the day, I figured out the truth when I came across various artists demonstrating their works effectively in various places and times.
The intended target of this writer is to show that the success journey of one of the Ethiopian artists who has passed through many ups and downs targeting at making his dream come true. Indeed, there are some artists who have been urged to interrupt their studies for the love of living their dreams. In fact, my focus is talking about one of the renowned artists named Addisu Alemayheu (Yappi Mafi). He is among one of the artists who interrupted his university studies for the love of joining the art world. Taking into account a number of things revolving around his personal and professional life into account, I have made up my mind to make the all-rounded artist to make him the art and culture column guest. Excerpts:
Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Addisu (Yappi). I was an outshining student till I joined university. Though I had a good grade in the university, I was forced to interrupt my education given that I was not able to find the field of my interest that I was dreaming for long. This being the case, I interrupted my studies and ended up joining the art world in next to no time. I have been getting myself engaged in a range of art works since then. At the moment, I am a rapper, dancer, film and music director, and what not. Without exaggeration, I have been successfully carrying out my duties and responsibilities as far as this and throwing in my share.
How and when did you get yourself involved in music and film directing?
In fact, five years ago, I engaged in directing music and films. At the time I got involved in the profession,most of my works were not exhibited. However when the work of Dawit entitled “Kemigelegel Meskel” was released for the first time, I was showered with constructive feedback. I have the nerve to say, it was the time that most professionals got convinced about the indispensability of director in a film or music seeing that it adds color to their works. I was really giving due weight and attention every so often along this line. If truth be told, I did not imagine that I would end up being successful in my first work within the shortest time possible.
How is directing?
To begin with, a director's role lies in understanding in advance the feelings, ideas and thoughts of the general public (their heartbeats) and putting them into practice. Hence, I first make an effort to understand in detail the messages the author or songwriter would like to convey to the general public. What is more, I come up with various effective mechanisms summoning my maximum effort with a view to finding my way into the favor of the general public. What is more, I endeavor to make the general public understand the intended message of the songwriter coming up with a creative work which makes people visualize things tuning to the voice of the vocalists.
More often than not, I strive to bring songwriters to the limelight for the reason that most of them are criticized for not able to please the audience as anticipated. As a consequence, I endeavor to understand the exact feelings of the songwriters more than anything else under the sun and convey to the audience. I put a lot of efforts in to my work to make it a hit. Most people express appreciation for my work. Drawn by my creativity, most professionals want their works to be organized by me.
What challenges did you face so far, if any?
As a matter of fact, passing through various twists and turns in life is mandatory. The deep philosophies anchored in culture cannot be easily measured. First it was difficult for me to change the beat of Tigrigna into modern way. Mostly, the dancing style is circular. At a loss what to do, I began designing new techniques which takes the culture to a new height of success. I was not really interested to stick to the existing style. I came up with some techniques which make everybody to partake in the dance wherever they may be provided all movements are dances. I allowed dancers the freedom to display their grooving style as they wish though it was difficult to convince the community as well as dancers.
How many music and films did you compose to this point?
Most of the Tigrigna modern songs have been successfully directed by me. For example, the work of Dawit Nega entitled “Wezamei” is directed by me. In actual fact, in the beginning, many were not happy in the work. However after the release of the album, it became a blockbuster in no time . It has been admired by most people ever since. It is really difficult to put exact figures. I have also the talent to produce film scripts. Also,I am good at directing. For example, we can talk about Markeza film which is performed in two languages: Amharic and Tigrigna and released for public view. To be honest, even if there are many authors, actors and actresses across the country, they could not get the chance. Most people want to watch films in other local languages. Hence, I produced this film with the purpose of highlighting that garbing attention producing films is with in the domain of reality.
I have a cultural Hip Hop music to be released in the near future. The composer of the music is Tesema Mamo. Everything concerning the music revolves around our own culture. I have got more than thirty works to this point.
Some say that some dancers partaking either in traditional or modern dances suffer from addiction. What is your take on this?
Such a conclusion is entirely far from the truth. For example, in the recently launched Geez Band most dancers had been enthusiastically portraying their talent. In fact, most of them have proved to be free from addiction. If you take me for instance, I am averse to addiction. I as well is director of modern dance and music. As to me, giving in to addiction depends on the personality of individuals not on the profession. Indeed, this reality on the ground may be subjected to the person who you spend your time with. Addiction is not inborn.
I am neither a smoker or drinker. Examplary,I managed to make them change their attitude taking their problems into account.
How and why was the Ge’ez Band established?
As for me, places where youngsters spend their time are very limited. Therefore, it is very important to alleviate this problem. Mostly, it is believed that there is no professional who could organize Tigrigana in modern way or other languages. However, it is possible to do all we can in a way which attracts the attention of everyone irrespective of age and sex. Most foreigners do not have an inkling about the music wealth of Ethiopia as the works are not choreographed. By the way, the intended target of the band is allowing foreigners play our music.
We heard that you are making most professionals in your walk of life very famous. How much is that true?
It is very true. We can take as an example Artist Teshale. He is a highly experienced person. But he did not not know how to acquaint his works in an interesting way with the general public. Consequently, making such artists people known publicly injecting our own creativity and making them beneficiary will be our priority. Now, he is getting himself ready to release a new album on account of the effort of my colleagues and myself. There is a big gap between the past and the present generation. But at this point in time, it is very difficult to for an artist warm his/her way in to the cherished corner of the audience . As a result, I do a lot to achieve the intended target. However, this is a personal work. People work for their respective countries.
Most of your songs are different from the normal Tigrigna beat. This makes you different. Where did you bring the style from?
As expressing one's ideas, thoughts and feelings swiftly cannot be done in a few words using say Amharic or Tigriagan languages, I do most of my Hip Hop works in English language. It is also difficult to find the beats in Tigrigna and Amharic languages. At the moment, I am producing Hip Hop songs using the aforesaid languages. I am endeavoring to make the song more interesting than ever before. Hence, in the Hip Hop song in which I am going to release in the near future, I would use the Tigrigna drum beat.
In what ways do you help others?
More often than not, I do not bat an eye to extend a helping hand if anyone asks me to learn or needs my help. I am always ready to teach people since I too learn from others. I do not hesitate to contribute what I have especially whenever I am invited in different schools. I give all I have with pleasure.I give what I have for others without any wavering.
What is your future plan?
I do not want to live only for the reason that I have to live on the planet earth. I do want to contribute all what I have for the generation to come working day and night. It is crystal clear that I was born for one mission and I came to this earth to carry out my duties and responsibilities. I would like to do all I could no matter what the cost may be. The other thing is making an effort to harvest the fruit of success in a short time in the new album and taking the Ge’ez Band to a new height of success.
Translated from Addis Zemen
BY ADDISALEM MULAT