Benon Mugumbya: How He Started Swangz Avenue

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By The Business Owner Magazine

The number of successful businesses that were started by moguls who for several reasons did not finish school is big. This is a global reality. Let’s count: Apple Inc by Late Steve Jobs, Microsoft by Bill Gates, Samona by Ssalongo Kasawuli Samona, Katumwa Sports Centre by David Katumwa and Swangz Avenue by Benon Mugumbya.

“I did not go to campus because I did not make the grades for the course I wanted,” Benon told me, “but I did a short course in computer maintenance and networking which would prove to be handy in future given what I am doing now.”

From Benon the Musician to Benon the Producer

Swangz Avenue is the brainchild of erstwhile artiste, Benon Mugumbya, who we know for hits like Nsazewo, My Lady and Mumulete. Music to him, was what God got him to do, “I believe God got me into music since you see, music is not something that you just wake up and decide that you are going to do it. From childhood, I was involved in a lot of music related activity in the church and school choirs, singing with friends. So, I have been doing music from then.” Indeed, over his lifetime, Benon has done over 20 songs; some collaborations while others singles. With his partner-in-crime, Vampino earlier known as Vamposs, they produced their first hit, Nsazeweo, which he says, “was how the public got to know of us.”

Being an inquisitive and technical person, Benon would soon get bored just writing and singing songs. “While doing music with Vamposs, I was always intrigued by the machines and the production. I wanted to know how always, so most times, even after the song, I would be in studio. That is how I got into production.” This curiosity was noticed by a friend of a friend, Eddie Mpagi, who offered to teach him a few “how-tos.” “One day, at Viboyo’s place, Eddie liked what he saw and asked me to get time and go over to his studio (Gudenuff Studios). At the studios, he started teaching me a few things here and there and it is also where I met a couple of big shorts like Steve Jean of Fenon, who I would later do some work with.”

The birth of Swangz Avenue

That training or would we say apprenticeship was what would be the technical birth of Swangz Avenue. The skills Benon had learnt would be the very inspiration that would drive him to open up his own production house. He planned for it, sourced the capital and networked. “I told a couple of friends what I intended to do and they supported me. I saved some money and in 2008, I bought my first equipment. It was about 8 million. My big brother, who I was living with at the time, did top up for me.”

Note: This interview first appeared in the January/February edition of ‘The Business Owner Magazine’. You can get yourself a copy of the magazine at Shs 2000 for this and more inspirational business stories.

Click here for the full interview.

Remember to vote for your best artist and song for the first ever HiPipo Music Awards (HMA). The grand finale will take place on Saturday February 9th at Theatre La Bonita.

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