FROM SHELF-PACKER TO THE BEAT BANGER
The music business is arguably one of the most demanding and challenging industries to work in especially when you are a young artist/producer with big dreams in an industry that is brimming with equally young talented musicians. The Beat Banger, real name Chanza Peter Kasongo, is a young gifted Zambian producer making serious moves this year, in Zambia and on the international scene. He describes the Zambian music industry as a youthful and competitive industry. Their local rhythm of “Kalindula” these days is now a genre amongst many others being created by young gifted musicians and others being introduced by international artists from around the world.
So, what kind of sound does The Beat Banger bring to this mix of African music, specifically, Zambian music? A unique sound of mellow and punchy kicks, heavy bass and hard percussions with a heavy dosage of perfectionism and versatility, is the definitive sound of The Beat Banger fine tuning his art.
The second to last born in a family of 7, shares his journey with us. Growing up, Chanza had dreams of becoming a professional footballer for Manchester United, he had the potential for it. But this dream was soon exchanged for the music dream after watching his elder brother, Garfun Kasongo, play the piano and guitar whenever he would visit him. After learning piano and guitar from his brother, Chanza was well on his way to becoming The Beat Banger, however, there were still some bends to straighten out on his winding road to success.
After working at supermarkets for over a year, Chanza decided to go the music route, moving from studio to studio trying to find good paying conditions so he could prove to his parents that music was a profitable career. Having to travel long distances on foot in the heat of day and losing weight as a result was not enough to deter Chanza from pursuing his dream. With no computer of his own, he had to learn how to use music production software on some of his friends’ personal computers.
His career officially started in Kitwe in 2013. Then in 2014, he formed a group called “5th Element” with his childhood friend, Eric Chilufya, who put together a basic home studio for them to work from. With two small old home-theatre speakers given to them by Eric’s father, basic pilot-like headphones and a very basic mic, the duo were a step towards the right direction even though they couldn’t afford decent studio equipment. Joined by two gifted young rappers, AJ Rhymes and The Great Poetic, 5th Element became a household name after their hit song, Supu Dedede, meaning the gravy is delectable.
He permanently moved to the Zambian capital, Lusaka, in 2015 to a studio called BillBoard Music Records in Northmead. He got to work with various artists in the industry, which challenged him to be versatile and determined to outdo himself with each production. Initially known as “Real Banger” among his work mates at one of Zambia’s top audio production company, it was one of his boss’s friends who suggested he change his name to “Beat Banger”. It sounded more music related and would be easier to grasp without the need to explain what exactly “Real Banger” referred to. That’s how “The Beat Banger” came to be.
In the last 5 years Zambian music has drastically changed thanks to the increase in support from fans, corporate companies, sponsors and event organizers. More and more people are investing in music raising the standard for quality events and entertainment in Zambia. Organizers and corporate companies are partnering to bring top class international artists from all over the world. Giving great exposure to local artists and a sense of achievement for the Zambian music industry.
Still, certain areas are yet to be improved on, says Chanza, talking about the need for better lyrical content in music. He says this creates a situation where many young people are not reaching legendary status like the musicians from before this generation who were known for storytelling in their music.
On the balance of male and female artists in the music industry, Chanza says that most music industries if not all, across the globe are male dominated. However, he hopes to see more female artists joining the music industry and charting their own paths.
African artists depend on performances to make a decent living off music compared to album sales. Deals with organizers, sponsors and organizations also allow artists to live comfortably whilst doing what they love. The global success of African artists like Wizkid, Davido, Tiwa Savage and Yemi Alade are changing the value attached to African artists now. International artists from the western world are collaborating with African artists more and African music is being well received across the globe. But for African producers, this might be a slightly different story.
Despite their huge contribution to creating major hit songs, producers still make less money compared to artists in Zambia. For producers, the money comes from sessions with artists and if you’re well-known, you can use that to strike good deals with corporations and brands, both locally and internationally. Therefore, Chanza sticks to the principles of discipline and hard work his parents taught him. He uses his music production skills to create quality TV and radio adverts for corporations, allowing him to make decent money compared to what he makes in music producing for artists. As such, Chanza believes growing your network is a good way of adding value to your work and rapport, attracting more business deals and customers from the music and corporate industries.
On his plate this year is collaborating with five international artists he is currently working with: Rebecca Winter & Nissi from the UK, KIM of Diamonds from Malawi, Bionix from USA and Alnes from Nigeria. Chanza says he keeps an eye out for more opportunities to work with artists and organizations from all over the world, stating that as a producer you must learn to take initiative and stay ready for anything.
Chanza notes that success takes time, humility and being consistent. He has also learnt through experience that patience is also one of the ultimate keys to being successful in life. With that in mind, his next move is to start his own audio production company this year.