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Musoke, the man behind those super music videos

Marvin Musoke in action

Marvin Musoke has churned out impressive music videos, including Bebe Cool’s Onepikira, B2C’s Nyongera, Winnie Nwagi’s Musawo, Kano Kozze and Irene Ntale’s Sembera.

A visual artist and graphics designer working with Muyenga-based Swangz Avenue’s film department, Musoke shares his story with Anthony Lam Ayebe.

Who is Marvin Musoke?

Marvin Musoke is professionally an animator. But all these things [graphics designer, editor] come second. I am first and foremost a visual artist. I went to SAE Media Institute, South Africa. I have been in the film business since 2009.

When did you start shooting music videos?

I’ve done many videos; I can’t remember. However, the first music video I shot professionally at Swangz was Kyowulira by Winnie Nwagi. I have also shot television commercials alongside a team from Swangz that includes Viboyo (producer), Isaac Ekuka (director of photography), Aaron Mutumba (director) and Aisha Lubowa, the production manager. Together, we make videos and concepts come to life.

What guidelines would you follow before shooting a music video?

Of course the song must be nice. It must have nice sounds. With the project and budget, it determines what equipment I will use. Sometimes you may require a specific shot, you may need a special gadget, you will request for it. Logistically, you should work around equipment that you know is available in Uganda.

What skills do you believe a music video director must have?

Art; he should have a sense of art direction, a sense of photography. You have to be very creative and have a sense of storytelling, because, in the end, you are communicating. When you create these visuals, you want people to get the message.

Music videos are all about branding the artiste. You have to understand the artiste that you are working with and what kind of image they are trying to brand themselves with; so, when you are creating their concept, you have to consider that.

How long does it take to shoot a music video and do you ever rate the videos you’ve directed?

We normally shoot for one day. Sembera, Nyongera, Kano Kozze, Magic and Stylo music videos were all shot in one day. I don’t think there is any project we’ve worked on for two days.

We always shoot in one day, but it requires preparation, location scouting and outsourcing of cast and equipment, which is planned days before the video shoot. Setting up and shooting is done in one day. I don’t usually rate my music videos. I think they are equal. Each video I do is a new progress.

Most people believe you only work for Swangz artistes; is that the case?

We don’t only work for Swangz Avenue artistes. If you come and you have your money, we’ll work on your project. People think we work for only Swangz artistes.

We have worked with Bebe Cool (Onepikira), B2C (Nyongera), Sheebah Karungi (Otubatisa [Featuring Irene Ntale]). I don’t know why people think we work for only Swangz.

Do you think the music video industry in Uganda has transformed?

It has its own set of challenges, but yes, it has transformed over the years. When some of us were starting, the main challenge was that artistes didn’t understand the dynamics of doing these things.

The challenges are still so many, but I think we are getting there.The music video industry has evolved. Equipment that wasn’t there before has come in, including state-of-the-art cameras, drones and lighting equipment. Such things were not there when we started shooting music videos.

What advice would you give upcoming music video directors trying to break into the industry?

They should practice; it should be all about practice. They should look out for new stuff. They should look for new ways to improve their works which lies in experience that comes with new projects. T

hey should watch out for what other people do. They should do as many projects as possible as every project comes with its own set of challenges. Whenever they do a project, they learn and they get experience. It’s all practice; the more projects you do, the better you get.

What music video concept has captured your imagination?

It is Bambi by American-Nigerian artiste Jidenna. It was directed by Dano Cerny.


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