Shangatatu is at the center of House music in Mombasa. From playing venues like Distant Relatives, Moonshine to Tamarind, he is out to build his brand; which spans across multiple art disciplines. The artistic, creative, and charismatic fashion designer/DJ is taking up the baton from a long lineage of musicians in his family – albeit in a different sonic direction.
For the Sound Safari weekly Radio Show recorded on April 17 2021, Shangatatu gave us a one hour exclusive mix as well as an interview. Our interview, edited for content and clarity follows below.
Sound Safari: How are you doing?
Shangatatu: I’m doing great bro! Thanks for having me. It’s quite a coincidence that this is the third episode and you’re having Shangatatu… I see what you did there, nice one. Congratulations by the way!
Pleasure is all mine. You hold it down in Mombasa with residencies in Tamarind and Moonshine, tell us about that.
So far so good and I can’t complain much just that with the pandemic things are a bit tight. It’s also Ramadan and Mombasa being culturally Muslim it’s twice the pandemic (for entertainers). But things are moving – yesterday was the second edition at Tamarind and I’m glad they like my concept. The management is quiet progressive so we are headed in the right direction.
Your family has played a central part in who you are as a musician. Give us a breakdown of that down to who Shangatatu is right now.
My grandad used to be in a Jazz band in the 70s and also his brothers were musicians as well and they used to play at Tamarind and other hotels. Actually for me to play at Tamarind I find it as a form of reincarnation.
It’s things coming full circle.
Yes. Back in 2012 when I wanted to start I had a conversation with my uncle who is also a deejay and he told me to go for it. Since then it’s been level after level, power after power. Also my mum used to sing during weddings, funerals etc. You see, at the coast we have a vibrant singing culture at ceremonies and my mum used to be the leader.
You are also an independent fashion designer, could you tell us more about that?
The name Shangatatu actually comes from the designing. When I finished form four I wanted to have my own unique merchandise. I started out with screen printing but it was too common so I started adding beads. I tried so many bead-work styles until I discovered the shanga tatu (three beads). I’d print a t-shirt then hand sew three shangas.
What was the inspiration behind your Shangatatu Therapy Podcast?
When I was ready to start recording I decided to come up with a collective name that would represent my fashion and music so I stuck with Shangatatu. I am so obsessed with my name, my logo and everything I do. It’s quite good work! I was a huge fan of Above and Beyond when I was starting out with House music and their podcast was an inspiration.
You are currently learning music production. What type of sound can we expect?
I wanna go into the House music world cause that’s where I belong. Expect a lot of Deep House, Progressive, Amapiano etc. I really want to fuse my coastal languages, accents, and culture into a big franchise. I’m really looking forward to working with legends like Mzee Ngala.
That’s great! Where can we find you on social media?