Gazza’s quest to conquer new frontiers
> Kaipaherue Kandjii
Windhoek – In order to bring meaning to Namibian music, internationally acclaimed singer, Lazarus Shiimi popularly known as Gazza by his legion of music fans, has branched out his music label by opening up a branch in the UK.
In order get recognition beyond the African borders, the Gazza Music Productions (GMP) frontman says that “rebranding and constant growth is key to any artist’s longevity and economic emancipation”.
“The office is up and running and it deals with the logistics like promoting our events, sponsorship, gigs and also marketing. But the company itself – GMP UK, is still in the works and we are busy with the registration process at the moment,” Gazza said in exclusive interview with The Southern Times.
Gazza maintained that Namibian music is as good as the world’s, that the artistes should brace the heat and “take on the world”.
The GMP has a distribution and publishing deal with the internationally acclaimed, Universal Music Group South Africa, the first of such agreements in Namibia’s music industry.
“I have big plans for GMP UK. I got signed by Universal Music Group because of my taste in music and talent.
And they trusted me with adding value to their group by signing up artists across the world through GMP UK.
We want to cater for the whole world, and whatever they ask from us we will provide, be it Asian music, European, African – basically anything,” he said.
Having worked with some of Africa’s most renowned and in-demand artists such as Nigeria’s Davido, and South African house music outfit Uhuru, he recently collaborated in New York with Nyanda, who is part of the Brick and Lace, an American girls group famous for hit song “Love is wicked”.
However, he reckons that the best is yet to come from him and his record label and the UK office will act as stepping stones towards bigger things.
“I want to put Namibian music first and make it more credible.
And if GMP becomes a global brand, our music will also grow and that will contribute to the national economy in terms of tourism and job creation,” he added.
Gazza also revealed that plans are underway to revamp the GMP Clothing line to international standards.
He believes that his clothing line is not only about fashion – but “a way of life”.
“I am still looking for someone to take care of the clothing brand, in terms of designing, marketing and so forth. But I am working on other marketing strategies as well, seeing that clothing bring about pride, and a representation of brand,” he said.
Gazza is one of the few Namibian artistes to have attained international recognition. The other being Martin Morocky, popularly known as The Dogg.
The GMP frontman is of the opinion that most Namibian artistes have not experienced much pain in life, probably the reason why they are not aggressive enough to take a share of the global music industry estimated to be worth over US$15 billion.
“It’s not easy playing at an international level. I do feel intimidated to be honest. Even if you look at Davido, he owns luxurious cars, he has all the money, he has a three story house, and he is just 23.
“But people love me for who I am.
Even when I went to collaborate with Ayanda, during the interview I even mentioned that they googled me, and they found nothing credible about me.
And they even came to me afterwards, and said I was being real, and they appreciated that.
“But I think our local artist hasn’t suffered enough. If I tell you about me, we slept in classrooms, we had nothing to eat and no taxi money whatsoever, but we had music in us, and it has liberated us.
“Poverty has always been my biggest motivating factor, and often times you hear an artist say, you cannot book them at a certain place because they are superstars.
But they should learn to be humble, and work harder if they are to make it,” he advised.
Known for his incredible work ethic and stance on pushing boundaries, Gazza says that the future of GMP can only be decided upon by the grace of God, and he foresees a bright and bigger GMP presence in world music.
“I am a God fearing person and only him who knows what the future holds for the GMP and me. I am not scared of anything, I am unique and I work so hard, because I do not want my kids to suffer like I did.
“I constantly tell myself that I am doing this for my people. I am a winner, and worthy of everything. Therefore I have to work hard knowing what abject poverty is,” he added.
Gazza revealed that he is being driven to success by his personal motto of “While we can, we must”.