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Richie Gathu dishes about new track ‘Cosa Nostra’, musical inspirations and an eternal appreciation for Sean Paul in an exclusive interview

Hi Richie, great to meet you. You’ve got your new track ‘Cosa Nostra’ out now, how did the song first come about? Did you start with the production?

Great you meet you too! The whole process for ‘Cosa Nostra’ was very spontaneous. I did start with the production, It was about 3 months into lockdown & I swore that I’d learn to produce, so I went on Splice and came across the main guitar sample. Within 5 seconds of pressing play, I came up with the first line of the hook and could hear the drum pattern in my head. I had the sample on loop, quickly writing down the hook before I got to work on production.

What was the first musical influence in your life?

Definitely has to be my uncles’ musical taste when I was growing up. Just from being around them, I became addicted to music, literally! I’d do anything so they’d let me borrow their Walkman payers, they were really into reggae, RnB and Hiphop. I actually remember Saturday nights in Kenya when I was young, I’d fight sleep to stay up and watch all the latest music videos. That’s where my eternal appreciation for Sean Paul began!

Did you get into production first or rapping?

I started rapping way before producing, I started rapping in year 10 with my boy ‘MB’ in our high school studio. My first attempt at producing wasn’t long after, I used to attend music workshops for teens in Unicorn Studios Bristol. I’ll admit, the beats back then weren’t great at all, so I decided to put my focus in songwriting and performance and I done so for many years before releasing music. 

What current musicians inspire you?

How much time do you have?! Just kidding, I try to source inspiration in as many places as possible especially when I need to get back in my creative bag. My biggest inspirations are Jay-Z, Kanye, Kendrick Lamar and Drake. Hov, purely for the longevity in music and ability to create an empire that’s bigger than the music. Kanye (minus his shenanigans) will always be my GOAT, purely for being such a fearless innovator and always betting on himself against all odds, I definitely see that in myself now, I guess you could say Yeezy taught me! Kendrick is my favourite lyricist ever and one of the greatest EVER! No one can tell a story like Kung-fu Kenny, especially through an entire album. The art of storytelling is something I’ve developed from listening to him, especially his album sequencing which is a running theme in his discography. There’s no way I can leave off Drake, his dominance in the rap game is something else. One of the greatest rappers alive, he can sing and breaks records like every other week…I too would like to have more slaps than The Beatles!

What is the story behind the track?

Lockdown loneliness I suppose (not to sound sad cus I somehow enjoyed it!) Having spent the first few months alone, all I wanted to do was to “pull up” on a special someone. Given that I wasn’t able to, I decided to make ‘Cosa Nostra’ envisioning how that reunion would feel like when I finally saw her. Given that the track gives off real tropic vibes, I really pictured it as if we were living our best lives in Havana whilst writing this song. The funniest thing to me is that I didn’t appreciate how good this song was until I received the first mix back. As soon as I listened, I knew I made the type of song you might hear at any type of event, BBQs, clubs & everything between to get everyone moving and wanting to hit the Salsa with their lovers.

How have the places you’ve called home changed the sound you make?

I would call 3 places home; Nairobi always brings the carefreeness out of me, anytime I’m out there it’s guaranteed that I’ll work on something I haven’t done before and usually it’s happy vibes, I can’t be making sad music when the Nairobi sun is shining! The influence of the city has also got me incorporating Swahili into my music now, as can be heard on ‘Cosa Nostra’. Bristol on the other hand, brings out my creativity as well as my most introspective self, especially when I link up with my bro KAYMNBEATZ.

Bristol also pushed me to work real hard on my penmanship skills/wordplay/melodies as there as some talented artists over there. I’m really competitive and in my mind, I want to be the greatest artist from my city and I use that desire as fuel to make sure that when it’s all said and done I will be the GOAT from my 3 homes. 

I moved to London since August 2019 and although majority of the time has been spent in lockdown, prior to that I make the effort to attend open mics, BBC introducing and other events to immerse myself with the music scene. I’ve also made friends and collaborators since being here which is something I was dying to do. London has really taught me how important it is that I establish who I am as an artist and hone in on that. Being around other dope artists who seemed to have a plan made me realise that I need to do the same and take it even further. With every release now, I believe that it is clear just how focused I am and no matter the vibe of the release, something will catch your ear and keep you engaged, guaranteed!

What are your plans for the rest of the year into next?

I’m currently in the finalisation process of the next single, which won’t be out until late summer. In the meantime, I’m prepping some unreleased material that I want to start releasing monthly, exclusively to my biggest supporters. Anyone who subscribes to monthly updates via my website should expect unreleased songs/beats and much more. I’m also getting back into my producer bag and trying to create something different but still dope. The other day I finished a beat that had Tame Impala vibes and I can’t lie I’m gassed, I never even thought about making that type of music but somehow I managed to pull it off. 

Are you planning on doing any live gigs once it’s fully safe to do so?

I will be supporting YXL Ayo’s set @ o2 Islington on July 24th. I don’t have any sets confirmed yet but I will definitely be on that stage ASAP, my favourite place to be! I’m planning to throw a Bristol gig around September, each summer since 2014 (aside from 2020) I’ve hosted gigs in Bristol which have always been successful and helped put me on the map there. It’s a tradition at this point & I’ve had people wanting to know when the next one is, I gotta give the people what they want!

Thanks for chatting with us Richie!

Anytime!

Check out Richie’s track ‘Cosa Nostra’ below:

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