Born Dan Ngalamulume, Ngaara is a fast-rising creative artist based in Rwanda. Ngaara is currently a student at African Leadership University studying Global Challenges. Soon to graduate, he’s already setting his course for his creative journey, as part of the collective Antik Dust while also pursuing a solo career.
We spoke with Ngaara about his debut album AMARASO (Green Ferry Music), how his close community has shaped him as a person, his musical influences, and more.
Your debut album AMARASO came out on September 18. How does that feel? What do you want listeners to feel when they listen to your album?
Bro, it feels amazing! It’s hard to even put how I feel into words… but I guess this is how it feels to have your first child. You can’t take your eyes or ears off of it. I think the feeling is also mutual to anyone who has witnessed this journey, my journey, to creating and making this album what it is.
I can’t really know what I’d want listeners to feel when listening to it. Rather, I’d say I want them to listen to the words, to what I’m trying to express in each song. From there, maybe they can feel with me, and connect to the space I was in while creating the album.
Throughout the making of AMARASO I was able to find my voice. I was able to find myself and who I am as a person and as a creative.
Your debut album has been described as a self-discovery journey. What did you discover about yourself throughout the writing, recording, and album production process?
Throughout the making of AMARASO I was able to find my voice. I was able to find myself and who I am as a person and as a creative. I tend to use a more poetic and meditative approach in my lyrics. I used different and unique ways of composing and creating in order to express what it is I’m feeling – all the while staying true to myself and reality.
Can you explain to those who don’t know the meaning of AMARASO? What does the word mean and what is its significance?
“AMARASO” translates to “Blood” in Kinyarwanda. In this concept album, and to me, it represents a strong human bond, one so fragile that a drop on the ground spreads a feeling of endangerment like nothing else we know.
AMARASO ni Isano (Blood is bond).
If you could describe yourself in just a few words, what would they be and why?
I’m an expressive individual and a creative artist, one who is not defined by any genre or category. One who’s always looking for new ways to create and express themselves.
I’m always trying to stay true to myself and find my light in the midst of everything around me. In a way, that shaped me in becoming who I am today.
The album is centered on relationships with family, the world, and yourself. What is it like writing about these relationships? What have you learned about them?
It’s always a discovery… a reflective and therapeutic experience. You get to learn and uncover even more things the deeper you dive.
What I’ve learned about these relationships is that it’s all about you – knowing who you are, and finding yourself despite the ties. It’s not about who you have to be or expected to be because of such ties, but rather what you make of them. It’s about how you live with them knowing and being who you really are.
What pieces of advice would you give to artists trying to break into the music industry?
I’d advise them to be themselves. Continue to create and follow your own path. One can do anything they set their minds to, that’s just human nature. We just have to know and believe it.
You grew up in a close community in Rwanda. How has the power of your community influenced who you are and your music?
Growing up in Nyamirambo, you tend to know and interact with almost everyone. That alone influenced me to become less introverted and a little bit more extroverted as an individual. Creatively and music-wise, it influenced my vocabulary, expressiveness, and approach to storytelling.
Your bio says as a child you were influenced by comic books and animated TV shows. What about these animated worlds fascinated you?
What fascinated me the most about the animated world was that it defied the laws of nature, of the entire universe! Nothing was deemed “impossible” to do or create. This widened my mind and curiosity as a kid, trying to know what would be the next thing or how far it can actually go.
Who are some of your musical influences? What about them has inspired you?
Nasty C is a talented kid from Durban, South Africa who followed his dreams, his own path, and proved to the world and himself that he can literally out rap anybody. Kanye West is a creative genius who believed in his art on top of everything else. He never stopped creating despite the world’s pressure from all corners and now he’s one of the best artists of all time. J.Cole is one of the best rappers of all time, his art just speaks to you. He inspires truth about being yourself and so much more – a GOAT.
Where do you see yourself in a few years? What can listeners expect from you next?
Not so far from now, fingers crossed! I see myself being the first ever native Rwandan artist to ever grace the Colors show.
A few years from now I want to have a platform of my own that avails opportunities and resources to creatives to create and help facilitate the monetization of their work, bringing and giving value to both the artist and their creations.
For the listeners, I want them to expect nothing but more pure and creative content that looks to inspire and bring out the best in everyone and myself.