Jenifa Mayanja originally born in Uganda and now more recently an official US citizen releases her 2nd album which captures emotive, subtle, narratives encased in deep House referencing various musical styles and influences on her Bumako Recordings record label. This very thoughtful and sensitive music producer has been a very prominent figure especially on the New York scene by paying her dues working at the record store Dance Tracks increasing depth and strength in musical inspirations. Cultivating the knowledge and passion and also increasing awareness with more opportunities to DJ at various parties including the legendary Body & Soul sessions headed up by Francois K, Joe Claussell, and Danny Krivit and also has represented at club Shelter Timmy Regisfords party. Hotly tipped radio show appearances also came including WBAI FM and WNYU FM and also various publication coverage from Village Voice, Time Out NYC, Straight No Chaser and Jockey Slut back in the day have all garnished praise, and props to an unique female artist in this heavily over subscribed male dominated scene.
Stream of Consciousness reaffirmed the first chapter of documentation in album form of Jenifa’s work which was very much well received amongst the deep House community and further a field. Next up we have Woman Walking In the Shadows, which we see as a revelation of another chapter in the life of Jenifa’s work as a lady, mother, wife, artist, producer and everything else in between. This body of work really works the subtleties, mood changes, warmth, intrinsic, timbre, distinctive, inquisitive and a whole heap of other details that will make this a true slow burn affair. Not on first glance revealing all but allowing for open interpretation and dialogue. We will not scrutinize the detail to much, as Jenifa has kindly provided an special album mix and also provided the skinny on the proud achievement of album 2 including discussing Sade, gender inequality, and of course the kids.
So the album when did you first start to get an idea for an album?
I have wanted to do a second album ever since I finished the first one “Stream of consciousness” which was my first release but so much personal and professional stuff has transpired since that release that at times I thought I would never find the time. Ironically when I started out making music, my aim as an artist was to model my career as one of those people like Sade that has an iconic album release every five to seven years and then just disappears to their lives, but the universe has it own plans for me which through the course of my life I have come to respect and comply with whether I like it or not.
From the first album ‘Stream of Consciousness’ my personal favorites are “living for this moment’ with its jazzy, fancy footwork timbre drums, and percussion and also ‘I should’ which I can imagine having a vocal softly laced over the top from inspired ladies including Ursula Rucker, Alama Horton, India or maybe even Sade making me slightly breathless of thought. Do you in some ways like the idea of ‘nor fame nor obscurity’, producing bodies of work and then leaving quietly by the stage door?
Yeah this notion of just being an artist creating bodies of work and leaving quietly by the stage door is my soul as a human being. Unfortunately the reality of the business dictates that except for the few chosen ones, the rest have to get on top of the mountaintop and scream loud as we can so we get heard over the masses of other equally talented artists. I have accepted this for quite some time but I will never be fully comfortable with it as its not my natural state but I am a practical dreamer.
I find it quite special that you are very much a women, producer and dj. Day to day the ups and downs how is it really for you, gloves off all honestly speaking managing everything?
Oh man this could take a book and maybe when I am old and gray I will write one. I will start from a fundamental place that I think is universal; in life women in most professions while they may be respected by their peers, get different treatment in terms of salary, resources, attitudes, standards of physical appearances and the list goes on. So I am not shocked in any way about how my productions are received in this industry. I think because I am not pigeonholing myself musically or coming off as a sexy vixen or hard ass chick, the media especially has no clue what to make of me other than I am
Jus-Ed’s wife, a fact of life which I am happy with but does not define me musically at all.
But to get to the nuts and bolts of this thing of being a label owner, artist, producer and dj, it is not for the fainthearted! Its rough…i am a mom first and that is a job that runs practically 24 hours a day even while you sleep. As I was trying to write this my 2 yr old jumped out of bed 4 times and I am disciplining her while attempting to get my thoughts focused again, that is just an example of the challenges of what I do on a daily basis and family has to come first.
I work on music when the kids are asleep for maybe 2hours a day if I am lucky and then I have to get some sleep because every weekday I have to get up early so my son gets to school. Most producers can lock themselves away for days and just work on beats I don’t have that luxury. I am tired every single day and my husband asks me how I do it all the time. I also have high standards so it makes it difficult to get a song or track done in a matter of hours/days like some producers claim or to cultivate new artists for my label because I want the same taste level that I have represented on my label not just hot tracks of the moment. I hope this year to make time to cultivate more artists and producers for bu-mako especially other women in the business.
That was quite a profound and insightful scene painted, so tell me what have been real heartfelt inspirations and challenges for you creating this album looking back to its inception and to now its nearing completion?
The challenges I face creating any new music these days is time or lack of it, there are so many dope projects that I could collaborate on with other like minded individuals and I just don’t have the time to get it all done. The album is a reflection of the many phases I have been through mentally and emotionally on a daily basis. I try not to write from my life anymore because anyways there is not much going on there lol, so my joy in creating new musical works is escapism and sort of imaginary story lines about all sorts of situations…i am proud of myself for pushing myself through everything to get it done and really delighted to present it to the world.
Your label Bumako…with its rich, spiritual and personal foundation can you describe how it has grown?
Bu-Mako originally was a party that I started with my good friend Mookie to showcase just incredibly dope music that was not necessarily what was happening in the clubs but needed to be heard and played out. It was a labour of love and we set a high standard for what the party should be like from the lighting, atmosphere, scents, sounds, the staff, the mix of people…so when I ceased doing the parties after I had my first child I wanted to expand that same vision to something else, hence the Bumako recording label. I really wanted at first to just put out thematic albums from myself just exploring not necessarily a particular genre but just moods, and thought patterns which is why my first album was called “stream of consciousness” because I just stepped into so many genres of music to create that..I have focused a little more on the sound of bumako and grown as a producer so now I am ready to start bringing other talent on board. The most beautiful growth for the label has been that after 4 years of releases that the fans of the music really get it! That this is an organic movement that doesn’t need hype just a platform to be heard and experienced. More people are hearing Bumako music for the first time and spreading the word so its been very gratifying to keep this label going. I don’t need fame for the label though a few dollars would help lol… I just want people to hear the music because I make it for them.
I guess a lot of things are already written and your our paths chosen for us only to walk, have you chosen an album name for the project?
The name of the album is “Woman walking in the shadows” which this is probably one song that I wrote specifically for all women of all walks of life myself included professionally I have felt in the last year as if I was walking in the shadows, always someone standing right in my light. This song is about feeling strong, empowered and understood, all women have had at one point to walk in the shadow of somebody, their mates, fathers, mothers, children, colleagues..the list goes on but its not the end of the world, we solider on doing the work that makes the world go around.