Interview: Glasgow-based Ugandan Musician ‘Paix’ discusses growing career, inspirations and new single ‘Self Love’

Making it in Glasgow – a hotbed of creativity – is arduous. From the city bursting with gigs and concerts every week to having one of the most culturally diverse communities, singing for crowds to unifying their sense of difference can be quite a task.

Glasgow, Scotland

Paix however, is climbing that mountain! She embodies passion, commitment, and desire to do just a little more. When we reached out for an interview, she was one of the most positive people you could engage with.

Glasgow, Scotland

A mellow and increasingly delicate jazzy soundscape comprised of compelling drumbeats and crash cymbal effects set the scene for Paix’s intoxicatingly smooth tone.  Her honest and reassuring vocals ebb and flow deliver her message of love in her new single out called “Self Love” with producer, Mysterex.

Learn more about Paix in the following MBU interview:

MBU: What are your real names and where are you based?

Paix: My real name is Gillian Katungi, I’m based in the UK.  

Paix in Glasgow

MBU: Why did you decide to use ‘Paix’ as stage name?

Paix: Paix means Peace in French. Peace is something that I try to embody and manifest wherever I go. I think that peace is a fruit that we need to cultivate more of; in our personal lives and in our communities – especially in these tumultuous times. People often comment on how positive I am, so I thought the name suited.

MBU: Are you Ugandan or how are you connected to Uganda?

Paix: Yes, both of my parents are Ugandan. I love Uganda and feel connected to home through my family.

MBU: What drew you to the music industry?

Paix: To be honest, I’m not drawn to the music industry in itself – I simply feel called to create. I think I will always create, even if my work went unheard – it’s a part of me.

Growing up, l felt that I had to choose academics and my professional career over my artistry but as I’ve developed, I’ve found that as multi-faceted beings- we can do and be more than one thing. After graduating from university in 2014, I went into full-time work but I also started exploring my creative pursuits on the side.

MBU: For how long have you been doing this?

Paix: In terms of when I started performing, I’d say I was very young. As a child, I would perform whenever I got an opportunity – family functions, school, youth clubs, church worship team, local performances, and events. However, I’d say it’s only over the past two years that I’ve been actively collaborating with other artists, writing and recording songs.

Paix in her new single “Self Love” with Mysterex

MBU: Where did it all begin?

Paix: I’m pretty sure I sang before I could speak. I’ve always loved music – we always had music playing at home. I remember my first performances were during primary school. I attended dance classes at a very young age too. In secondary school, I took part in plays and performances, I had a band and we did small local gigs and events. I was also involved in doing live performances throughout my time at college.

Paix

MBU: Which kind of genre do you sing?

Paix: It’s quite tough to pin the genre down. When people listen to my music they’ll hopefully notice that it crosses a number of genres and is quite unique. I’ve always been a big fan of jazz and neo-soul music, so I think that is quite noticeable in my vocal style.

MBU: What inspires you?

Paix: In terms of my creative process, I often feel divinely inspired. I gain insights from observing the world, nature, conversations or by reflecting on my own journey. In general, I’m really inspired everyday heroes; my siblings, who are creative powerhouses in their own right.  My friends and the people I work alongside. I think it’s really important to surround yourself with people who push you to be your best self, who challenge you and whose values align with yours. I’m also inspired by public or historical figures that solve problems, look beyond challenges to the greatness that lies beyond & people who are led by compassion and their convictions.

Some of my early musical influences have been Ella Fitzgerald, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Nina Simone, Floetry, Lauryn Hill & Whitney Houston.

Whitney Houston

MBU: How would you explain your creative process and the kind of people you work with?

Paix: The process varies, my mind is usually full of melodies and lyrics so I carry a journal around and record ideas on my phone when they come to mind. I then go home and record properly on my home studio – which gives me creative freedom. Sometimes I go to recording studios to work with other artists and support their writing process. I’ve been recording vocals for a couple of years now but prior to this, my music experiences was live performance with a band.

For collaborations I usually like to get a sense of the artist, their vibe and vision to see if we align first – it’s really important to me that we connect in terms of style but also in terms of values. I really want to make music that has a message and that brings positivity.

MBU: On a lighter note, what’s an average day like for you?

Paix: I run a very tight ship with my schedule because, in true millennial fashion, I do many things! My day job as a communications (PR) specialist. I mentor disadvantaged young people and creatives through a school-based program. I’m a Director of a charity (community arts and performance venue). I write and make music. Every day looks different depending on which of the above activity is happening. Tomorrow I’ll record some new music, then I have a meeting to discuss an upcoming event. Then I will be rehearsing for an upcoming show!

MBU: You have a new single out called “Self Love” with Mysterex. Tell me more about it.

Paix: I met Mysterex at an event I was performing at in 2018. I was singing an original song of mine and he was filming the performance. When I heard some of his instrumentals I knew immediately that we’d work together. I loved the blend of hip hop, jazz, and chilled ambient vibes and he is passionate about the message.

Paix

MBU: Describe what you went through to prepare the song? How long did it take and where was the video shot? Does the song have any hidden meaning?

Paix: As soon as I heard the instrumental I started reflecting on my personal journey and it all just poured out of me. I wrote and recorded the vocals for the song in my home studio – it took a couple of hours. Mysterex mixed and mastered the song. It was all very DIY. From the time I wrote the song to it being released was about 6 months.

The video was shot in Glasgow, Scotland. It took around 2 hours to film and was fun. On the day we were filming I had just finished work and didn’t feel confident about how I looked. I think stepping out of your comfort zone is necessary so I pushed through that feeling and had so much fun. It’s important for me to practice what I preach and I’m glad I did because the response has been amazing. We reached over 5000 views in 2 weeks and the feedback was overwhelming! For a first video and single, I’m honored it’s been so well received.️

The song is about learning to see your worth and value and not building your foundations on the validation of others.
So many people have struggled to see their worth, their value and their purpose. So many people have had to pour out until there was nothing left for themselves, leading to burnout and/or poor mental health. This song was a reminder that kindness, compassion, acceptance, honor, respect – it all starts at home, within us. If we struggle to extend this to others it’s because we struggle to extend it to ourselves.

You can’t pour from an empty cup, after all. Self care, self compassion, self love: these are more than buzz words for me. Love is a verb. It requires action. Consistency. Practice. Commitment to the process and journey. I really wanted to remind myself and anyone listening that it’s worth learning to love all the parts of us, even the bits that don’t feel palatable or presentable to the world. This song is about learning to see yourself as a work in progress but not waiting until ‘perfection’ before recognizing you’re worthy of love. People always say if, “If was – smarter, funnier, prettier, richer – I’d be worthy” but it’s a lie, you’re worthy of love right now!

MBU: How have you been interacting and responding to fans since you released the song?

Paix: I’m still trying to get used to the fact that I have fans – it is lovely. I am active on Instagram @Paix_x  OR  through my Facebook page, Paix. I post videos and pictures of what I’m thinking about and up to.

Paix

I recently set a self-love challenge which has been really awesome – the aim was to encourage people to share more empowering posts about their self-love journey online. I’m asking my followers to post a picture or share a video of what self-love or self-care looks like for them, then tag the song and #PaixSelfLove. It’s been lovely to see people taking up the challenge and sharing their experiences – I hope it continues. 

MBU: Have you performed the song anywhere?

Paix: This is my first official release, I haven’t yet performed this specific song live yet. I have a few gigs coming up in October, so I look forward to performing!

MBU: Tell me about your most exciting performance you often remember.

Paix: I think my favorite and the most exciting experience was performing at two music festivals in Scotland over the summer, both set in stunning countryside locations. It was spontaneous and they were both really beautiful moments. The audiences were so so positive and I continued to receive comments and kind words about the performance for days after. It’s surreal when people connect to your creative expression. If my music or voice touches even one person, I’m happy.

Paix performing

MBU: What do you envisage for your music career?

Paix: I’m looking forward to releasing more music by the end of the year. I hope to have more videos too. If my music can inspire and empower even one person, I’d be happy.

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