Building from the ground up

Universal Master Builders (UMB) Academy is home to some of the most talented new artists.

07 February 2020 | Art and Entertainment

If you are a fan of Namibian music, you couldn't possibly have gotten through last year without hearing about DJ Dreas, LOFT or Diolini. Now signed to UMB Academy under the guidance of Brain The Tool, who doubles as Bob The Builder for this stable, they are the new wave of Namibian music. Brain The Tool ensures his signees are really making some noise with their music and fresh feeling the group radiates.

This stable has managed to grab the game's attention to witness the undeniable growth of its artists. tjil had to chat to the group to get insight on how they function as well as their plans for domination.

As a brand, UMB Academy was started in 2016 with the aim of helping creatives with their public relations. In 2018, it turned into a record label, but was dormant for a while. Work only started picking up sometime last year. Brain The Tool saw that there are few artists in Namibia who can sustain themselves with their talent, and it was for this reason he mapped out a sustainable model for professional artists.

“I just want to help young people with talent to make it because I believe I possess the experience, expertise, passion and knowledge to help others make it or drive artists' careers,” he said.

On the qualities he looked at before signing these artists, Brain The Tool shared that all UMB Academy signees display a high level of excellence, potential, discipline, skill and sobriety. Those elements helped him make a decision on who to bring on board.

“At the end of the day, as much as it is social work, it is also a business. It is corporate art, thus I have to find people who validate that investment.

“I am working with young people because they are more passionate and have more willpower as opposed to working with people my age,” said Brain The Tool, adding that DJ Dreas, Diolini and LOFT want to be great at what they do and the role of UMB Academy is to elevate them to the next level.

In ensuring that the label attains its goals for its artists, UMB Academy's focus this year is to put out more visuals.

“Audio visual material is the most impactful form of art; it is received media, it is not perceived, meaning you do not have to have a level of imagination and understanding of art to get it.”

With DJs dominating the game in many respects over the last year, it is safe to say that the lost element of music is back. Get with it or get detention. Speaking to tjil, DJ Dreas shared that he signed to UMB Academy because the label approached him with a desire to see him to thrive.

Dreas also mentioned that he appreciates Brain The Tool's honesty and transparency. “We have been working together now for a few months and we have managed to achieve phenomenal things and we are still going to achieve great things together,” he said.

Dreas, who is the official DJ for the Standard Bank Pioneer Student Account and Student Loan activations, announced that he will be jetting off to Cape Town later this month. “I have been booked for two shows there and I will visit a studio to work on some new music,” he said.

In the case of Diolini, Brain The Tool approached her last August. She admitted that she was doubtful in the beginning as signing to a label was always something she was sceptical about. “But Brain The Tool made his intentions clear from the get-go and expressed such a passionate vision that I couldn't help but get excited,” she said.

She mentioned that she is at a place where she feels supported and confident in her sound. She revealed that she will be releasing a couple of songs and possibly even a body of work this year.

“I am focused on creating the most authentic and beautiful sounds Namibia is yet to hear,” she said, describing her sound as soulful and sensual. “It's a true representation of who I am,” she said.

Make no mistake, there are levels to this music thing, particularly rap. You get rappers and then you get emcees.

Every couple of years, if we are lucky, we witness a freak of nature. Who am I talking about? The answer is the third artist signed to UMB Academy, LOFT. An artist in the truest sense, his music is his canvas and his words are paint. LOFT told tjil that he signed with UMB Academy because Brain The Tool is someone he can trust with his career. Although still in the developmental phase, LOFT revealed that he will be putting out a project this year. “The sonic direction will be very experimental and super-versatile. I look forward to sharing this sound with my fans,” he said.

MICHAEL KAYUNDE

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