Name: Odek Ochung’ aka Papi OdeQ
Occupation: Performing Artist (Singer/Actor)
Location/Base: Nairobi City
YouTube Channel: Link
Sound Cloud: Link
Social Media: Facebook Page – Tamasha Beats
Odek Ochung is a man of many talents. Papi OdeQ, as he is commonly known, is an actor, singer and dancer with experience spanning 16 years. His acting chops can be seen in the MNET’s Maisha-Magic TV Comedy Series KooKoo Inn where he plays a principal character. Papi’s first full-length movie was Shattered! Where he acted alongside Rita Dominic of Nollywood among other stars. He has also featured in several MNET’s Africa Magic Original Films (AMOF) Movie Projects e.g I DO, Emergence, Behind The Veil, Garbage Chief, Lost Innocence etc. Papi has either featured, and still features, in several popular TV Programs, e.g. MALI and Wash & Set on NTV, Mnet’s Kona & Sumu La Penzi, Citizen TVs Inspekta Mwala, KBCs Mtaani among others.
Music has always been OdeQ’s his first love! OdeQ has been in several stage plays and musical theatre shows including: Out of Africa: Safari through Magical Kenya (Toured Netherlands, Belgium & Denmark in 2012) – Produced by Peter Ultee Productions B.V, Amsterdam, Netherlands, Eric Wainaina’s Lwanda: A Ghetto Story (Kenya Tour 2007-08), and Mumbi Kaigwa’s Kigezindoto (Toured Netherlands, Belgium & Italy in 2006).
Papi OdeQ released the first studio album, TAMASHA BEATS: UNVEILED, in 2011. This was released while he was still part of an all-male acapella band, TAMASHA BEATS, which he founded in 2008. From 2013 Papi OdeQ embarked on a journey to establish his career as a solo musician. The journey, which is still on, has seen Papi record a sophomore studio album, WATU SIMBA (Kilio Cha Kenya), and which he has started to release singles off from. Papi still maintains his acapella singing all-male band, Tamasha Beats, band, and remains the lead singer and band leader, but he did incorporated a fully-fledged instruments-playing unit. Tamasha Beats is now a fully-fledged live band and plays regularly at popular local restaurants, at corporate events and social functions, and also festivals.
OdeQ is also a professional and experienced Master of Ceremonies and a Community Organizer par excellence who has worked with several NGOs and on various projects as a consultant and civic education facilitator.
Papi with his band have also been involved in a fundraising event, This Boy-This Man Initiative, co-founded with Cindy Ogana, and which was aimed at creating awareness of the plight of the boy child.
I got hooked into performing arts when I was 10 years old as I watched the Performing Arts group at my local church. I envied how the performers were in control of the ‘emotional and psychological destiny’ of all of us in the audience. I wanted to be in control as the performers were.
However, my foremost experience as a performing artiste was when I was in standard one, at age seven. My class teacher had cast me to play Eli, the high-priest, in the biblical story of Prophet Samuel. My debut performance was, however, cut short as I suffered a heavy and insurmountable episode of stammer.
Later on in standard five, at age eleven, my class teacher, Mrs Musanya, who happened to also be the school’s drama/music teacher and head of department, auditioned me (I sung Kenya’s national anthem) and allowed me to join the Mass Choir. Mass Choir which was a choir set up in the 90s and was made up select primary school-going children from schools in Nairobi City, and who could be trained to sing in order to perform at national holidays’ celebrations, and in front of the president. Unfortunately for me, though, even after training and rehearsing with the other select children, I could not be part of the performing group. This was due to my father’s strictness. My father, like most parents those days, regarded such co-curricular activities as meaningless and a waste of time.
Around the same time, I joined my school’s gymnastics team. I never bothered to inform my parents. I rehearsed with the other kids during school days. But in the process of rehearsing the somersaults, I landed on my head and suffered a twisted neck. As much as it wasn’t a ‘very serious’ issue, my mother got concerned when I got home and couldn’t turn my neck, and head, properly. She enquired and I had to say the truth, and just as I had thought, I was given a thorough beating and warned never to engage in such ‘dangerous and useless’ activities again. However, I got well just in time for the gymnastics competition, and, yes, there was no way I was going to miss the competitions. Luckily, for me, they gymnastics competitions were being held on a school day, so, I attended them and went back home later in the evening as if nothing had happened.
From age eleven I got involved in music and drama in my local church as a member of the Junior Youth group. We performed at weddings and danced during the masses as liturgical dancers.
When I went to secondary school I got an opportunity, away from my father, to get involved with drama and music as much as I wanted. I had a field day. I did everything performing arts. I even rose to become the chairman of my school’s drama club. I went to school in a catholic mission school in Nyang’oma, Bondo, in Siaya County. The church had set up a marching band for the boy scouts group based at the mission. As students we were allowed to join the group. I did become a member of the boy scouts and became part of the marching band. I toured Kisumu and several areas around Nyanza playing with the marching band.
After high school, in 2001, I, once again, went back to the church where I grew up. Our Lady of Visitation Catholic Church in Makadara, Nairobi. I joined the senior youth group ranks and now had an opportunity to join the performing arts group, which was part of the youth group, and whose performances had lit in my belly the fire of becoming a performing artist when I was ten. Chelepe Arts was the name of the group. It was a renowned performing arts group that not only dramatized and presented plays at the church during Easter and Christmas celebrations, but also performed at weddings and was also, variously, contracted by organizations to formulate themed drama pieces and dances. Chelepe Arts was also a pioneer traditional dances troupe. I started off as a dancer at Chelepe Arts. While at Chelepe I got a taste of what it means to be paid for being a performing artist. I also got to perform at the Nairobi International Trade Fair, commonly known as Nairobi Show. I also toured, and performed at, Mara Serena courtesy of Chelepe Arts. While at Chelepe I got the opportunity to attend various training workshops on performing arts and community media. This also marked, for me, the beginning of acquiring education and building networks within the sector.
From the networks built at Chelepe Arts, I got an opportunity to establish myself as a practitioner of Theatre for Development (TFD) attached to several NGOs. I worked with NGOs operating within the governance and human rights sector. I worked with KHRC, IED, 4Cs, CRECO, CJPC among others. I was mostly retained as a community theatre consultant. We developed and performed drama pieces, involving theatre, music and dance, which we used to facilitate and conduct civic education for the masses. While doing this I got an opportunity to tour most parts of Nairobi and the country at large. Through TFD, and later Interactive Participatory Community Educational Theatre (IPCET), we managed to play a big role in bringing about the democratic changes through the ballot in Kenya in 2002 and a new constitutional order in 2010. We used TFD as a civic education tool.
Around 2004/05 I joined Jicho Four Theatre group. Jicho Four is a travelling theatre group that specializes in performing literature set-books in secondary schools around the country. I didn’t stay long with the travelling theatre though because, around the same time, I was still getting contracts with the NGOs. The NGOs paid better than what Jicho Four paid.
Between 2005 and 2010, I, variously, performed at public theatre shows staged at the Kenya National Theatre and other performance spaces around Nairobi City. It was around the same period that I became part of the teams that, kind of, revolutionized theatre performances by writing and staging theatre performances in Dholuo (Luo). These shows were normally sold out, and as a result of the Dholuo shows success, other theatre formations took up the initiative to stage plays in Kikuyu, Kamba and Luhya.
In late 2004 I joined Kayamba Fiesta. Kayamba Fiesta was an off-shoot of Kayamba Africa, a pioneer Kenyan all-male-acapella band, that took the country by storm with their, mostly traditional folk music arrangements, performed in harmonious rich melodious male vocals. It is at Kayamba Fiesta where I got my first proper vocal coaching. Kayamba Fiesta also afforded me an opportunity to perform on a national stage proper. We performed at many a national events for, not only, Kenya’s head of state but also for other high ranking dignitaries. We performed at luxurious 5-star hotels and at international conferences in and around Nairobi and, indeed, around the country. I got my first shot at ‘being on TV’ while at Kayamba Fiesta. Some of the events we performed at were covered live on TV, not to mention the music videos that we shot. The leadership at Kayamba Fiesta also allowed me to meet and negotiate performance rates with clients. This gave me my first attempt at interacting with customers and sealing deals. I had a successful performance stint at Kayamba Fiesta. I rose to become a dependable vocalist, and performer, and group leader.
In 2005 I auditioned and landed a role in KIGEZINDOTO. This was a musical theatre piece that was put together by renowned theatre practitioner, Mumbi Kaigwa, through The Theatre Company, a theatre company that she had co-founded with her then husband and Theatre Arts teacher, Keith Pearson. Rehearsals for the show ran into 2006 when, later in March/April, KIGEZINDOTO toured Europe (Netherlands, Belgium, and Italy) with the World Music Theatre Festival. It was my first trip abroad. Later that year, after I returned from the Europe tour, and through Kayamba Fiesta, I landed my first gig of appearing in a TV Commercial. It was for a GSMA provider called Popote Wireless.
In the run up to the 2007 general election in Kenya, Eric Wainaina’s musical theatre show Lwanda: A Ghetto Story, was commissioned by URAIA, an NGO, as a civic education tool. I was invited to be part of the cast and I accepted. With the show we toured several parts of Kenya conducting civic education for the masses. I got to work with great Kenyan artists while doing Lwanda. This is when I worked with Eric Wainaina himself, Hellen Mtawali, Dan Aceda, Neema Silaiyo Ntaalel, Jacque Nyaminde etc. The show later toured Broadway in the US and Australia under the title MO FIRE! Though I was not part of it then.
My TV-acting career kicked off in 2008 when I landed a role as a supporting actor for the popular TV drama show, Wash & Set, which aired on NTV between 2008 and 2010. Ever since I have been part of several other TV shows and movies: MALI (NTV), Mtaani (KBC), Inspekta Mwala (Citizen TV), KooKoo Inn (Mnet’s Maisha Magic Chanel), KONA (Mnet), Shattered (Movie-2011), Africa Magic Original Films (AMOF) – 2014/15/16/17 – Garbage Chief, Emergence, I Do, Behind The Veil, Lost Innocence, Inherited among others.
I founded my band, Tamasha Beats, in May 2008. Tamasha Beats was initially founded as an all-male acapella band but I have since (from 2013) incorporated a full live band. Tamasha Beats is now a fully-fledged live band, even though we still get offers, which we honor, for performances as an acapella unit. Tamasha Beats has grown from strength to strength performing at events around the country and put of the country. Tamasha Beats has performed in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania and Johannesburg, South Africa. In 2013 I embarked on a journey to establish myself as a solo artist, Papi OdeQ and backed by my band Tamasha Beats. The journey is still on. I have managed to record a sophomore studio album, Watu Simba (Kilio Cha Kenya). Thus, Tamasha Beats now has two studio albums: Tamasha Beats: Unveiled (2011) and Watu Simba (Kilio Cha Kenya) (2017).
In 2012 I toured Europe (Netherlands, Denmark, and Belgium) with the musical theatre show OUT OF AFRICA: Safari through Magical Kenya. It was produced by Peter Ultee Productions BV – Amsterdam. It was a three months tour (September, October and November)
In diversifying my income streams, I founded QiQwetu Tamasha Creations, an events, arts and Culture Company, in 2014. I intend to use it as a vehicle to organize innovative music, arts and culture events that shall promote the same and offer myself a stage to perform my music as well.
To shape the way Benga music is perceived in Kenya and establish Benga music as Kenya’s foremost National music/sound
To compose, write, record (audio & video), and perform Benga music, establish a Vlog on Benga music and initiate a Benga music event that shall offer a platform and stage for young and upcoming Benga singers and musicians to showcase and expose their abilities. All these in order to promote and enhance the Benga genre of music by mainstreaming it and expanding and encouraging its consumption among the masses.
12-18 Month Plan
• Establish Vlog on Benga music
• Organize the First Edition of Q-TABESA Fair (QiQwetu Tamasha za Benga na Sanaa Fair)
• Launch my music album Watu Simba (Kilio Cha Kenya)