Self-styled ‘That Girl From Uganda’, Ang3lina is big on values and dreams of securing BET and Grammy awards nominations in her blossoming music career. She talks to MBU about family, career, challenges, beliefs, and so much more in “20 Questions”
Ang3lina, born Angela Nabuufu on 25th February 1997, is a Ugandan Singer, Songwriter, Instrumentalist, and Producer based in the United Kingdom.
She is well versed in music production having taken GSCE Music, and Music technology lessons. She is one of the very few Ugandan female producers and loves to play the piano and guitar.
At 25 years old, Ang3lina has churned out a couple of bangers that have dominated airwaves both in the UK and back home in Uganda.
Songs like Ghetto Lovin‘, Oh Na Na, Awo (feat. Voltage Music), Go Down, and Fantasize, among others have won her a big following of fans from across the world who love her voice, unique music style, and lifestyle.
Mbu had a chat with the laidback music queen to talk about her career, challenges, unforgettable memories, and her new music.
Where and how did your music career begin, and who gave you the platform?
I would say my music career really kicked off when I dropped my first breakthrough single “Ghetto Lovin’”. I was in the UK when I dropped the video and by then I wasn’t connected to a lot of people in the industry.
All I remember is sending the video to Selector Jay on Twitter a couple of days after I dropped it. At the time, Selector Jay was working on NTV the Beat with Douglas Lwanga. And every time I see Selector Jay I always say thank you to him because he didn’t have to notice my message. He didn’t know who I was, but he did.
He instantly picked it up and from there they started playing the video every single day on NTV and that’s how Uganda really got to know about me. It picked up from there and the rest is history.
Starting out as a new artist, what are some of the memorable moments that you can never forget?
For me, it was just the fact that I was in another country and my music was starting to get some real attention back home. I never had any sort of management or team to help me figure that out. So that feeling is a feeling I can never forget.
Like “Wow Angie, you’re really doing this. Uganda is feeling you.” Growing up, I just loved everything about Uganda and I always wanted to be someone there. Whether it was sports or music, I wanted to be respected and loved by my country, so when it finally started to happen I was the happiest.
I even cried sometimes, cause I couldn’t believe that my music was really being played in my motherland. That feeling is unmatched.
Which were the first major challenges for you and how did you overcome them?
You know being born and raised in the UK, some people in the industry looked at me and saw me as a big cheque. They automatically assume you have all this money because you live in the UK. And starting out, it was really hard to maintain some relationships because everything was about money.
It was almost like I had to pay for my existence in the music industry.
This was a hard barrier that I had to jump, I was young and naive so I fell into that trap quite quickly. So over time, I established that I don’t have to be the one physically talking to everyone in the industry, not everyone needs to have access to me, I could get someone else to represent and negotiate for me, and things became a lot easier.
How much did your parents contribute to your career?
My parents till now are my biggest fans. At first, my dad was a bit skeptical about me joining the industry in Uganda. I was young and didn’t know much about the industry but my mum was always on board with it. She really believed in me and motivated me to start singing my own songs and try to sing in Luganda and put some songs out.
When I started music actually she was my manager…haha. Whenever I needed money for a video shoot or studio time, she never let me down. That woman is always ready to help.
Actually, my dad doesn’t even know he’s low-key the reason why I became a musician. When I was around 8, or 9 years old I was so much into football. I was really good at it too! But then I started becoming a tomboy and hanging around boys too much and my dad didn’t like that.
So one day, he came back from work with a keyboard and told me to play with that instead, and guess what? I did. And that’s how I taught myself how to play the piano. The rest is history.
Which is your unforgettable studio memory?
I think the day I had a session with Henry Kiwuuwa. He really got me out of my element and just gave me tips on how to harmonize better, how to breathe, and even just sing those high notes. That was really one of my best sessions to this day. I learned so much from that man.
Where were you and what were you doing when you heard your song play for the very first time?
I was in Uganda, I think I was driving from Andre’s studio, I had just finished recording. So I’m driving back to my house and I literally hear Ghetto Lovin‘ playing on the streets. It was a shop with big speakers, and there were a lot of people just hanging around outside the shop, and Ghetto Lovin‘ was the song playing.
How did you react to that?
I was like damnnnnn, that’s my song yo. I really wanted to get out of my car and tell those people that’s my song, lol.
How much were you paid for your first performance? When and where was it?
For my first paid gig, I was paid £300 for a Ugandan show in London at Royal Regency. I don’t remember when it was but it was a couple of years ago.
What do you think is the unique piece in your music that fans love so much?
I think the fact that I blend Luganda with English in an urban way. I think my fans love that a lot. That’s always been my niche in all of my songs. Also, I think the fact that I introduce myself as “That Girl From Uganda” in pretty much most of my songs.
How do you choose your team and what do you regard before you employ anyone?
Before I employ anyone I first observe them for a while. Most of the people that work for me are really my “die-hard fans”. These are the people that are 100% loyal to Ang3lina. They comment on every single one of my posts, share, and like, without them even knowing I’ve been watching them online for a long time.
I really notice who supports me online. There are names that I see every day on my social media and I keep tabs on them. So then after that, I test them in so many ways. If they pass those tests, then we are good to go.
“Die-hard fans” are the best people you could ever employ on your team. And you can thank me later for that tip.
Apart from a manager, who is a must-have on a celebrity’s team?
I think in today’s world it’s really important to have a cameraman on your team. We live in a digital world, everything is so fast-paced. As a celebrity, your life is literally like a documentary, and your viewers (fans) want to watch you every day.
It’s easy to forget to take a picture or record a video when you was doing something because you’re already handling 101 other things, but when you have a cameraman on board they are literally there to document everything for you. So this is why I think a cameraman is a must-have on a celebrity’s team.
What has changed much in the industry since you joined?
Apart from all the new artists that have joined the scene, I would say Uganda has now really adapted well to its online presence. We still have a long way to go, but back then it was really not good.
If someone asked what your top 3 contributions to the industry are, what would you tell them?
- Quality production.
- Quality videos.
- Quality music.
What is the one piece of advice a younger version of you didn’t consider but should have?
Don’t rush to make decisions and don’t get too excited by the fame that comes with being an artist.
Would you want your children to follow your career path? If so, which step would you wish them to skip?
I wouldn’t force my children to do music but if that’s what they wanted to do I would never stop them. As long as it’s what they want to do I will support them every step of the way.
And honestly, I wouldn’t want my kids to skip any step. The industry comes with good lessons and bad lessons, these are all lessons that we have to learn. If they want to become the biggest artist in the world they’re going to have to go through every single challenge to get there. And that’s how you learn and evolve as an artist. You can’t become successful in your field if you skip steps. That’s what I think, anyway.
Relationships at work. What do you have to say about those? Do you believe they can grow and prosper?
Relationships at work? Hmmm it really depends. It works for some people and it doesn’t for others. I’ve always believed that it would be easier to develop a relationship with someone that’s in the same field as you because you both have a clear understanding of each other’s roles.
For example, if I tell you, “babe Imma be in the studio all night,” he’s not gonna trip because he gets it. So that’s one of the pros. But then it could also become an extra load of stress, especially if you go public about your relationship. Because now everyone has something to say about your relationship, every move or step you take is being watched by thousands and thousands of people, so you’re literally walking on eggshells the entire time. That’s stressful yo!
But yes I do believe relationships built in the industry can grow and prosper if you’re private about most of it. The world doesn’t have to know everything. Low-key love life = best love life.
Do you have any regrets about your career?
I used to. But now that I’m older I’m actually thankful for everything that’s happened in my career. Every lesson and mistake I made has shaped me to become the artist I am today. You can only get better or worse and I believe I have gotten much better at my craft, and I’m still getting better.
What more would you like to achieve?
A BET nomination, Grammy nomination, something along those lines. Still got a lot of work to do though.
Last piece of advice you would give to the readers that would definitely help them in their respective careers
Don’t ever ever ever give up. If you believe and have a passion for something or you know that God has gifted you with a specific talent, hold on to it, and get better at it. That’s going to be your breakthrough in life one day.