Upclose with Kateleya and Kandle

Kataleya and Kandle

What you need to know:

GIRL TROUBLE: Hadijja Namakula aka Kataleya and Rebecca Robbins Nabattu, aka Kandle, make up the singing girl duo of Kataleya and Kandle. The two have been at their best for the past two years with hits such as Nyash, Onsanze Ndaba, Njagala Money among others. 

How did you come up with your stage name?

Kataleya: We found each other when she was popularly called Kandle and I was Kataleya. So, we sort of just happened.

When we got management, we tried looking for a name but none of the suggestions seemed to be doing it for us, so we just went with what we already were – Kataleya and Kandle.

How can one differentiate Kataleya from Kandle?

Kataleya is the light-skinned one with a deep voice while Kandle is dark-skinned with a soft voice.

What inspired you to pursue music?

When we met, we were both selling clothes but we were not making money, and since we were friends and we both loved music, we decided to pursue it while looking for something that we could do together that would bring in some sensible money.

Initially, we wanted to do individual things but realised there is a lot of competition among individual artistes.

How did your journey with Theron Music start?

When we were starting out, we tried to do it on our own but it did not work out. We got some management along the way but things did not work.

It was a struggle finding management; people promised things that they did not deliver, so we decided to just jump into studio, did our songs with the hope that proper managers would find us on the way.

Our songs were bad so people advised us to find a good producer. That is when we approached Nessim. However, Nessim billed us Shs4m to write and produce the song but we did not have the money. We pleaded with him but he assured us that it was his standard rate. Long story short, Theron Music came along and they were running auditions. We auditioned and that is when our story began.

What was the journey like before you spotted the right management?

Honestly, we had gone through a lot. I remember there were some Nigerian guys who called us in the name of signing us. When we got there, we learnt that they were human traffickers.

From day one, we have always known what we wanted musically.

What inspires the things you sing about?

Everyday things; love, money and it is also determined by the mood and the producer we are working with. If we want something sweet, we go to Nessim. He was the one that introduced us to Theron Music.

Tell us about your new EP.

Our new EP is called Call It Love and it has different sounds with six songs. Normally people put out a piece that has the same sounds but we wanted it to be different so that we get attention from the uptown and downtown people. The EP has songs such as Songeya, Matatu, Gear, Binkolele and more.

What was it like working with Fik Famaica?

He is so nice, down to earth and easy to work with. He was so cool and encouraged us to make money and make sure the songs we do come out well. We had 10 songs to choose from to sing with Fik Fameica and we chose Pose which we recorded with him from 8pm to 8am.

Your fashion sense has been a centre of attention many times. Tell us about it.

Like we told you, before joining the music industry we were selling clothes, so we understand fashion. We are a brand and we like to stand out, look different, smart and extra.

If you are a star you have to look like a star but some people do not get it. When Beyonce posts a picture, people will love it but when we wear something similar or close, people will not have kind words. But we dress according to the function. For example, we cannot wear skimpy outfits while performing at a school.

Kataleya and Kandle

Who designs your outfits?

We always sit down and think of what we want to wear and we get someone to design the outfits.

Sometime this year there was a scandal involving you and Hellen Lukoma. What was the genesis of that?

We do not want to talk about that.

How do you navigate the music industry with its challenges?

We have professional management and we are here to work, we do not want any fights with people. Sometimes we have no conflicts but our fans who have never really met us are always conflicting. They should stop.

How about the issue of sexualisation?

Like we said, we work with a very professional team and when we are in the studio, we have a manager with us. There is no chance for the producer or anyone in studion to go off-topic! Also, women should know their worth. Never do anything just to rush the process, please go step by step and never be desperate.

When did you see yourselves breaking through?

Before Do Me came out, we had done two songs, Muzibe Wa Love and Tonafuya which most people liked. It was a very beautiful song but it was our first song. Muzibe Wa Love, however, was our first professional song and when it hit, people also started playing Tonafuya and before we knew it, it was viral countrywide. Eventually, people would see us and recognise us on the streets and that is when we knew we had made it.

We started singing professionally in 2020 and we started hitting around 2021 during the Covid-19 period.

How are you handling fame?

We hide where we need to hide and say ‘Hi’ when we have to. We are very humble people, not so proud.

We have heard that you have some upcoming collaborations.

We work so hard so we have so many songs in store but we cannot spoil the surprise. However, you will know when they are ready. We have worked with B2C, Fik Fameica and many more.

What would you say is your biggest achievement right now?

The fact that we have lasted in the music scene is our biggest achievement. People kept saying we would fail after one or two hits, but we have kept producing new music and ruling the chats.

As a duo, you surely do disagree sometimes. How do you handle differences?

We complement each other. At first, we used to sing the same way and people could not differentiate us. Then we chose to do different tones, Kataleya the deep one and Kandle the softer one and it worked.

Have you met fans who prefer only one of you?

I think we cannot stop people from loving what they love. We are already comfortable and confident with and in our bodies the way we are.

If someone likes my sister, it makes me so happy and vice versa.

We have seen girl groups break up before for reasons such as marriage and family. How ready are you for that?

We would like to give the groups before us their flowers. They did a great job. We entered this industry after reading about them and seeing what went wrong and we tried hard to avoid such. We want to last as long as possible, but we cannot defy fate in case such things happen.

What do you say about artistes that break up over management stressing them?

You cannot be great if you do not accept guidance and correction. It is not right to say such about your management when they mentored you. By the way, Kataleya is a better dancer but we both write songs. We write our songs together and we make sure each person composes their lines.

For example, our song Do Me gives us nostalgia because we had fun making it and it went so viral. We were so new in the industry and we thought we needed three years to make it, but goodness!

Tell us about your education background.

Kataleya: I went to Noah’s Ark for my O-Level, Jakayz Secondary School in Kaboowa for A-Level but as I was joining campus, Covid-19 hit.

Kandle: I went to Kyambogo University but during my First Year, Covid-19 hit, so we chose to focus on music during the pandemic instead of struggling for retakes. Fast forward, we need our fans to know we are always cooking new music.

Are you dating?

(Both laugh out loud) We are single because even books were stressing us, how would we handle men?

Any words for girls out there and ambitious musicians?

Do not give up because whenever one of us wanted to give up, this is what we would tell each other. Most of the time when you want to give up it is when it works out. Be prayerful because it is not easy out here.