Interview Corner

When did you first entertain the idea of becoming a musician? What motivated you?
I've been an entertainer as long as I can remember. I was like 9 or 10 years old when my little brother Yosef and I used to imitate Michael Jackson whenever we would have people over at our house. I can remember getting jealous because, of course, the younger child would always get the most attention. Those early moments in my life helped shape the dreams and aspirations I have today.

What are the first steps you took to jumpstart your career?
I've been a writer ever since I could write. I started seriously writing poetry at age 15. By the age of 19, I knew that only I could make my dreams come true so I finally started writing actual songs. I've been extremely focused ever since, but non-stop writing was definitely the catalyst

Who are your role models? (both personal and ideal) In what way have they pushed you to realize your potential as a musician?
My role models are Shashu Habtu and Solomon Tadesse. The influence they've had on me is indescribable through words, not to mention the fact that they gave me life. I admire them, not only as my role models but as my heroes. In that transition from adolescence to adulthood, it's hard for anyone to realize that their parents are real people leading real lives with real responsibilities that go further than just being your parent. I can't begin to fathom how many hardships needed to be overcome for two individuals to leave their families behind at such an early age in search of better opportunities for themselves as well as their future children with no guarantees of survival or happiness. With that being said, I can't help but strive to not only make myself proud but to let my parents know that they did their part, but now it's time for me to do my part and show them just how much it means to me to have parents like them. My parents never pushed me to realize my potential as a musician. They pushed me to realize my potential period. To be capable of accomplishing anything my heart desires. They only made sure that my education was my first priority, and anything else that I wanted to do, within reason, would have their 100% support.

You've already come out with a single. Are you working on another album right now? If so when do you anticipate its release?
I'm currently in the studio working on three new songs which I hope to have released by June 2003. I also have several other songs written awaiting production.

You are interested in both music and acting. Have you had any acting roles or is this something you will be pursuing later down the road?
I actually lived in Los Angeles, CA for three months when I was 16 years old to pursue an acting career. I went on several auditions and although I didn't land anything solid, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I did have the lead role in an educational video when I was 15 that was shown throughout schools across America. I've also been a 'movie extra' in a few films.

How have friends and family reacted to your decision to become an artist? What are some lessons/ advice they have imparted on you?
I've gotten nothing but support from my family and true friends. A lot of people tell me not to change if I become successful. I'm not the type of person to let any of the good or the bad in my life alter who I am as an individual. I'll mature, but never change.

You write and produce your own music on your own label? What are some of the pros and pitfalls of self-managing each step of the album creation? What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned? What aspect was the hardest to deal with? What was your best experience?
I write any and everything I record. I work with different producers to come up with the beats for my songs. There are so many ups and downs that go into music production as there is in anything else. I've learned to accept the bad with the good. I believe that everything happens for a reason, and I remember that every time something doesn't go my way. I can be very impatient at times and I think that that is the hardest aspect of making music. Since I am not yet signed to a record label, I feel like I'm always on someone else's schedule. Due to the costs and expenses that go into music production, I can't yet afford to have a studio and studio engineer on-call for me any time I feel like recording a song. My best experience, thus far, has definitely been the support I've received from everyone who supports me. KUBE 93 FM and X104.5 FM in Seattle, WA for playing my music. Tower Records in WA for selling my music. And I definitely appreciate Tadias Magazine along with all my Ethiopian people for showing me so much LOVE!

Where do you want to take yourself next? What goals have you established for yourself? Do you have plans to go international?
With or without a record deal, I plan on touring in the very near future, not only across America, but also worldwide to places like England, Asia, South Africa and, of course, Ethiopia!

Have you met any established artist/producer in your genre of music who was instrumental in guiding you in the right direction as you were producing your own music?
Ken Lewis was a huge part of the success of my first single 'Shake The Spot' which he mixed. He is one of the best mixing engineers in the business with a client list that includes such names like Mariah Carey, Shaggy, Jay-Z, Notorious B.I.G., Diana Ross, Mary J. Blige and more.

Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I was born and raised in Seattle, WA. I graduated from Ingraham High School, and I am currently pursuing a college degree. I love basketball. Many people are surprised to find out that I was in the NBA during the 1999-2001 seasons. But, as hard as it is to believe, I wasn't a player. I was actually a Ball Boy for the Seattle Super Sonics. I was the person who made the Gatorade for both teams and the person handing players towels on the court during timeouts. Meeting and talking to players like Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal and Michael Jordan definitely served as a motivational tool for me. Being that close to the success of these multi-millionaires helped me to realize that we are all human and all capable of achieving our dreams.

Have you ever traveled to Ethiopia? If so what were your impressions? If not, would you travel there and what would you like to learn?
I've been to Ethiopia twice in my life, in 1992 and 1996. Some of the images I came across, which will remain with me forever, have been a driving force in everything I do, especially my writing. I take nothing for granted. At the same time, Ethiopia is simply one of the most beautiful places on Earth period.

Do you have close ties with the Ethiopian-American community in your area? If so, have you had to encounter cultural issues regarding writing and producing your music?
There was a time when I was younger, when my family knew every Ethiopian family in the Seattle area. Times have changed. The increase in the Ethiopian population in America has not only given me a larger audience, but larger community support as well. I definitely have very strong ties with the Ethiopian community in Seattle. They show me so much love and support and I appreciate it all.

What advice would you like to give to other young aspiring musicians?
What I've learned about the music industry in the past couple of years is that it doesn't care about anybody. Any musician that has been waiting for their big break, is probably still waiting. I don't know about anybody else, but I wait for no one. I discovered myself a long time ago, and now I'm supposed to wait for someone else to discover me? I'm sorry, but that's just not me. I look at it like this: If you want to succeed in the music business, you can't search for a record label to sign you. You have to become a record label. You have to make your own music, do your own shows, and create your own fan-base. You have to make yourself such a commodity that the only search that is taking place is the record labels searching for you.

What advice would you give other young Ethiopian-Americans in pursuing their own goals the way you have?
My advice for my Ethiopian brothers and sisters is, if you want something, sit down and figure out the best way to achieve it, and then act on it. Don't necessarily follow the travelled road. Create your own pathway to success. Create your own reality and then step into that reality. Collecting your reward is easy. Working up to that point is the hard part. Work hard. Work smart. Never give up. Talk to God.

What do you love to do in your spare time?
I like playing basketball and watching movies. I rarely go out to parties or clubs. I'm cool just spending time with my family and friends.

When do you work on your music? Are you working while you pursue this goal or are you devoting all your time to developing your musical career?
I work on my music non-stop. As a writer, I'm never off the clock. It doesn't matter where I'm at, if a verse comes to me, I'll stop anything I'm doing to write it down and make sure I don't forget it. I'm so focused. I also have a regular job. Making music independently is definitely not cheap.

Anything else you'd like to share with our readers?
I want people to know that I truly appreciate all the love and support I'm receiving. I'm proud to be an Ethiopian and I know that I can accomplish anything with my people behind me. Check out my show while I'm on tour. Check out for updates on me. Also, be on the look out for a future Ethiopian superstar by the name of Aida!

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