Moved by the disarray of 2020 to get a move on with his aspirations, Joseph Rutakangwa stopped wasting time and dove head first into the musical waters. We got into that moment a bit more while also discussing his parents’ vinyl collection, and how the world he sees around him played a huge part in his wonderful single, “Let It Be Us (Remix).”
Kendra: You’ve noted you grew up around music. Was it always just playing in the house or was your family all musicians and artists as well?
Joseph Rutakangwa: My parents were not professional musicians, they both were in choirs growing up – nothing major. However, they were both avid record collectors to the extent of traveling to Kenya and South Africa throughout the ‘80s and early ‘90s to buy records that were not found in Tanzania at the time.
I was homeschooled for most of my early years so my mom, older brother, and I would alternate playing our selections of vinyl records and later in the years, cassette tapes and CDs. It was like living in a radio station. That’s how I came to love music so much.
Kendra: You dropped your first single a couple of years ago. What pushed you to start moving forward with your career?
Joseph Rutakangwa: It was 2020 and Covid hit. I seriously contemplated my mortality and how living life in a stable world is a privilege that can end in a flash. So I decided to start doing everything I ever wanted to do in life immediately just in case the world ended. I would die in peace, knowing I did everything I always dreamt of doing. So, in June, once the first hard lockdown was lifted, I hit the studio and released my first song. I was extremely fulfilled and never looked back.
You see, I get melodies and write songs so often, but I was paralyzed by the idea of wanting to have a serious budget to record properly, make a music video, run a huge promotional campaign, and the like. The pandemic experience was a big wake-up call that propelled me into action.
Kendra: There is a lot wrong with the world. Anyone with access to the news on a local and global level can see that. For you, what was the breaking point that led you towards creating “Let It Be Us?
Joseph Rutakangwa: I get irritated by injustice because the world is objectively big enough for everyone to do their own thing without having to take someone else’s rights and property. When the US Supreme Court overturned abortion rights I felt a deep sense of disappointment. I live in Los Angeles and admire the American way of doing things because the US had maintained a general tendency toward fairness and the Live and Let Live philosophy – relative to other countries.
Starting to move back from fairness got me thinking why can’t we let others be? I’m not an activist nor do I intend to be one. I’m not a saint nor do I wish to be one. And I don’t believe in saints and people shouldn’t want to be saints, but I’ve learned that it’s not difficult to treat other people the way I want to be treated. We don’t have to like them, align with their values, or the like. We just have to know that everyone around us needs food, water, shelter, clothes, clean air, safety, love, respect, and freedom just like us. It’s on us to make this world a better place and we can do that by simply being kind to everyone.
Kendra: Then you went and gave that heartfelt track a vibrant, dance remix. When remixing the track, were you worried about the message being lost in the beat at all?
Joseph Rutakangwa: Haha, not at all. To me, the vibrant remix is an expression of the goodness and pleasantness we experience in life when we are kind and happy.
Kendra: It’s time for a side note: With it being the spooky season, I’d love for you to share your favorite movie to watch around Halloween – could be scary, funny, or a little of both!
Joseph Rutakangwa: I’m not a big fan of scary movies, but my favorite one in this category is ‘Get Out.’
Kendra: Lastly, with “Let It Be Us (Remix)” out now, can we expect more new music before the end of the year, or are you cooking up something for 2023?
Joseph Rutakangwa: Yes, I’ll be releasing new tracks before the end of the year. And I’m preparing an album for 2023.