You may know her as Dela but her real name is Adeline Maranga. The 26 year old is the newest singing sensation in the country following the release of her single ‘Mafeelings’ that was a trending topic on twitter. Dela is a Kenyan afro pop musician. She is the singer of such hit songs as Weche Tek and Ulivyo which have been very popular with lovers of African music. She is also a passionate dancer. I got the chance to talk to her about her new found sound and what makes her standout on the music scene:
How do you feel about headlining this month’s Koroga Festival?
I performed at the very first edition of The Koroga Festival. Feels good to be back, bigger and better. I’m really looking forward to it.
What led you to do the Swahili cover for Adele’s ‘Hello’?
We were laughing about the ‘Hello Challenge’ over a working lunch meeting with the team at Taurus Musik, when the CEO, Iyke, suggested we do a Swahili version. I immediately got translating. I didn’t actually record it until I was randomly hanging out with Fancy Fingers and Webi one evening and I decided to give it a try. (Andrew came through later and added the bass.) We posted it up on YouTube the next morning and voila!!!
What is ‘Ahadi Zako’,’ all about and did you write it from a personal experience?
I write all my music from experience. I get my inspiration for everything that goes on around me. ‘Ahadi Zako’ came about in the same way. I was in a relationship that didn’t work out, largely through broken promises. And I think we can all relate. Everyone- from our loved ones, to our co-workers, to our politicians – breaks promises. And this song is dedicated to them.
What’s with the blue hair?
Hahahaha. I love this question. I get it a lot. I change my hair a lot and I think it’s been working against me. This is just my way of defining my identity a little bit more. I want people to see blue hair and immediately think ‘Dela’.
What or who influences your fashion sense?
I wouldn’t say I have a particular icon that influences my fashion sense. I tend to pick and choose from everywhere. My close girlfriends have really good taste so they’re my go-to mostly. Otherwise my stylist does most of that thinking for me.
I hear you studied architecture in University of Nairobi and ended up doing music, tell our readers more about that?
I love Architecture. That’s what I’ve always wanted to do while growing up. And I worked towards that. But, I guess music found me. Music chose me. Getting an education is really important in the world we live in; plus I really enjoyed my time at the University (It was tough, though. Yo, juggling two demanding schedules is not a joke!) Either way, stay in school, kids.
Are there any plans for another album or are you working on singles for now?
The singles I’m releasing now are actually a buildup to the album I’m releasing later this year. And as you can tell it’s going to be hot. It’s going to be truly pan-African album as it’ll feature some of Africa’s favorite artists. Can’t wait to share it with you all.
What led you to sing the song ‘Mama’ in four different languages?
I had initially written the song in Ekegusii just for my mum. But then I thought it would be great if more mothers could feel the love as well.
Which big artists from across Africa are you currently working with?
We wouldn’t want any spoilers, now would we? You’re just going to have to wait for the album.
Describe the whole Coke Studio experience and how it boosted your career?
I got to work with Patoranking and Vanessa Mdee, artists I genuinely love and respect. And boy, were they great to work with. They’re so creative, so much fun, and so down-to-earth. I look forward to learn a few things about the music markets in their industry. Let’s just say, they inspired me a great deal. Coke Studio is a huge platform. It’s gotten my name out there and that’s exactly what you need when you’re trying to penetrate the market outside East Africa.
How has working with Taurus Musik changed your perspective on life and music as a whole?
Taurus Musik has helped me see the bigger picture of music as a Business, to think strategy, branding, and the works. And they have the muscle for everything from production to distribution. I’ve made great strides in a year of working with them and it’s only up from here.
We wish Dela the very best in her music career.