Kassmasse is one of the most promising up and coming artists residing in Addis Ababa. He fuses the Ethiopian Ambassel and Tizita sounds with international rhythms to create a one of the kind new genre that he likes to call ANSAR. He talked to Capital about his new music. Excerpts;
Capital: The release of your first EP has gained much traction, kindly, tell us about yourself?
Kassmasse: My stage name is Kassmasse whereas my official name is Fikru Sema and I would describe myself as a passionate artist. From an education standpoint, I am an alumni of St. Joseph School and Addis Ababa University School of Commerce where I undertook a degree in marketing. It has now been a little over three years since I finished schooling and I have currently embarked on my musical career.
Although new to the scene for many and much so to the music industry I would like to iterate that being an artist is not something entirely new for me. To me art is a form of expression and I am also a graffiti artist. With my graffiti, I normally love drawing letters and currently, with my music I tend to believe that I am putting life into the words that I could however not do so whilst drawing art on walls. With regards to my music gaining traction, I am incredibly humbled that my music has been received nicely as I seek to impact the world positively through this art form.
Capital: Your music style is quite unique. Which music Genre would you classify it to be?
Kassmasse: I would describe my style or genre of music as “Antsar” (meaning perspective). What I mean by Ansar is it depicts the music from the surrounding. I believe people are used to pop, RnB, Reggae, Hip Hop, Jazz and so on. However, for me a hint or a music from all of them combined with old and current music brings with it a sweet spot of music which was initially untapped. Ansar / Perspective/, for me is quite literally viewing and listening to the music through the eyes or tone of the musician. For me I have tapped into how music was composed by musicians who were trailblazers for us in the past and also combined it with the current flow of music with my own perspective of how I view the world and the current situations around it. In this sense, I believe we have formed a new genre of music that is limitless so to speak. I view our production team and I as the founders of such type of music or sound and I hope many will follow suit as they embody their own perspective.
Capital: What went into the branding of your EP cover and particularly into naming the cover as ‘Maleda?’
Kassmasse: A lot of instruments came into play for the fruition of my first EP. In the release of anything in this world it is best practice to have thorough preparation. In carefully curating this genre of music, I prepared seven tracks of which one of the track features Uno and Yizet on the track ‘wibet.’ In terms of branding and giving a title for my first debut, I tried to visualize a new dawn. As you know ‘Maleda’ is an Amharic word that translates to ‘early in the morning’ or at the crack of dawn. I believe to each and every human in this world we need to own success through seizing the moment at its earliest, which is at dawn. Dawn in itself present something new, therefore in the hustles and bustles of life I believe it should dawn on us how important it is to seize what is ours. Whether it’s the youth who aspire to be something in life or even the older generation who want to build a legacy. I hope this EP will enable them to get this jolt of confidence to go on and seize the moment at its earliest.
Capital: You seem to have come out of the blue and all of a sudden become a huge and promising sensation to the music industry. Before your come up were you involved in the industry behind the scenes? How was the marketing strategy like on your first release?
Kassmasse: Prior to my come up I was not fully present in the music industry in that I was not releasing songs. But at heart I have always been an artist. It might seem like an overnight come up of success but throughout my work after school despite not having been active in the music scene I had always envisioned this. To be fruitful in anything you have to surround yourselves with friends who are in that field.
I am privileged to have surrounded myself with a creative team of individuals such as Maranata Tegengne who is my video director and the likes of Guta Wakuma my producer at Choo Choo promotions. They all collectively aided in my success, not forgetting Uno and mix master Kenny Allen and all those who took part in the integral promotion of the EP.
Prior to this I was also not fully immersed in social media. As you know in this time’s social media is an important role in terms of pushing your music. I have now fully embarrassed this and am currently active in social media because it’s a necessity in our age that aids us to engage in fans.
Releasing the music and promoting it is quite hectic but with the aid of my wonderful colleagues and streaming platforms it has been made easier. You can now find my EP in streaming platforms such as apple music, spotify, sound cloud, amazon music.
Capital: How would you describe music?
Kassmasse: Everyone has their own version of what music is to them and for me having started as writing graffiti letters I believe it’s an expression of words that come to life through singing. I also refer to music as ‘she’. Just like a female companion I believe music completes me therefore I am keen to gird her and protect her because in return she/ music/ protects me.
Capital: This being you first debut in the form of an EP, is there a full album coming out soon? What should we be expecting?
Kassmasse: Well this being my debut I tried to cover different styles of music so as to receive feedback. So far most of it is resoundingly positive as it is a new style. This is important while going forward to make an album because you know what your audience is interested in. An album needs to stay thematic. This means that an album should revolve around a specific theme. With regards to the album drop I cannot name the specific date because it’s exclusive. However, fans should know that I will drop an album in the coming months and hopefully it will be received well. The ‘maleda’ EP which was released on New Year’s Eve, should be a symbol of what is to come this New Year and I hope to empower the generation in the months to come.
Capital: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Kassmasse: I would like to thank all the people who played an integral role to the success of the EP. Moreover I would like to thank my fans for their support. For my fans, they should know that I and my team are strongly working to uplift them and their joy and happiness hopefully will be the result of my music both now and for years to come. I am hopeful and full of gratitude.