Michael Bundi is a Kenyan musician and content creator who has made a name for himself creating heartwarming content for Tik Tok and YouTube together with his son Fayez. The father and son duo have been recording music since Fayez, 4, was two-years-old, and they have built incredible chemistry between them over that period of time.
The duo have seized the opportunity and tide brought about by the ever-growing social media content creation industry in Kenya to carve out a living for themselves.
Bundi became famous for producing reggae music covers, however, the singer has endured a tough test all in the name of making it in life. Here is his story as told by WoK.
The Grammy Awards nominee has endured an eventful journey in the quest to succeed in the music industry. While he is enjoying the fruits of his talent and effort now, Bundi has had a number of lows in his career.
During an interview with YouTuber Eve Mungai, Bundi revealed that at one point, he felt like giving up. He released his first song in 2015 and pushed hard in the industry, but he did not get the results he was hoping for.
“I’ve been in the industry for seven years. I have pushed with Konshens, I have pushed with Etana, I have pushed with every artiste out there, but most of the time, it was not bearing the fruits that I had hoped for.
“I almost gave up. It got to a point I looked at my YouTube I Had like 130 songs. I got desperate. I was releasing like a song every day or three songs per week just to see if there would be any luck,” Bundi narrated.
The singer concedes that his adherence to one genre of music might have cost him much need popularity and appreciation, however, he notes that his music was not appreciated enough.
He noted that at the time, Afro Beats and Gengetone were trending, but he did not tap into the wave of popularity that followed the two genres to at least propel his talent.
The singer, however, did a number of songs that put him on the radar of international musicians including Jamaican reggae artiste, Etana. The two got to work together when she came to Kenya. An intervention from Kenyans on Twitter (KOT) compelled the Jamaican star to invite Bundi for a conversation.
“I did a song for her called “a song for Etana” which was basically me asking her to do a song with me. When she came to Kenya, KOT made the song to trend, and I got a call from her asking me to meet at Ole Sereni Hotel,” he narrated.
At the time, Bundi was broke, he had not eaten the day before, and had to walk from Nairobi CBD to Ole Sereni to meet Etana. He was dusty, making security hold him at the entrance for some time before allowing him in.
“When I got there, she was so nice to me. I told her my story. She told me that one day we’ll do a song and it will change my life. She bought me food and game me fare to go back home,” he said.
Before the two got to work together, a cloud of impatience was starting to build up, forcing KOT to follow up on whether a collaboration between Etana and Bundi was happening or not.
Two years down the line, the collaboration happened.
“She sent me a song, I wrote my verse. She mixed, mastered it and released it,” he said.
Bundi notes that the song changed his life a little, claiming that he would use the song to negotiate for better rates on collabos. He also got to work with artistes internationally.
The singer further explained why he prefers cover songs to originals, noting that most people prefer the former to the latter since they easily go viral. However, he notes that the cover songs became a challenge following strikes by the original artistes. This prompted him to concentrate on his own original songs along with live performances.
Bundi has since released two albums which have done relatively well.
“We are still doing covers, but we do them in a way that cannot attract backlash from the original artist. We are also not recording, it is only live shows,” he says.
He adds that covers are not sustainable since the royalties are paid to the original artist and also on live performances, promoters or event organisers cannot pay you as well as they pay the original artists.
Fayez’s journey to music
Bundi realised that Fayez could sing when he was two years old. At that tender age, Fayez was drumming well to songs, he was on pitch, on key and used to sing along despite not being able to speak properly.
“We started doing videos together. Mostly, he wanted to be with me in the studio when I’m recording. He would come in and ask me to carry him, and he would sing along. We began doing videos together and posting and began sharing on social media but nobody was noticing at first,” he told Eve Mungai.
The duo began getting noticed after they did a cover of Jamaican reggae artiste Chronnixx’s song, “dreadlocks”. Within a few hours of sharing the video online, it had garnered over 50,000 views.
“We would walk in the streets and people would notice him. Some would tell us they have seen us on WhatsApp statuses. That’s when I knew we have been noticed,” Bundi narrated.
Depression & attempting suicide
Bundi reveals that he is a depression survivor. He is proud of it and includes it in his bio on all social media handles.
The singer narrated that he hails from a violent family, and at the age of five, he had developed anxiety, stress, and signs of depression. However, the problem escalated when he was bullied after joining high school. Hailing from a violent background that had instilled fear in him, and walking into high school where he was bullied for bedwetting, his condition grew worse.
“When you’re given depression medicine, it does not end the depression, it balances the hormones. So with the bullying, at one point, I took all the medicine I was given. I was hospitalised for the overdose,” Bundi narrated.
He revealed that he had five similar incidents in high school. In his family, depression was taken as a joke, it is only after he went into a coma for two days in one of the incidents that his family began to take his condition seriously.
In High School, Bundi attempted to take his life on several occasions. He would research ways with which people have killed themselves and he would emulate that.
“At one point, a neighbour had died after taking poison. So I went and bought the same poison, double measure. I locked myself in my room and took the poison and lay in my room. I had dreamt that a guy came and pulled me out of water, he lay me on the ground and conducted CPR on me. I could hear his voice telling me that the next time I try this, I will die. That is when I woke up and found I had vomited the poison,” he narrated.
Bundi revealed that he always wanted to have a son, and the hope of raising him right made him go into therapy.
“I really wanted a son. I thought that I needed to get help, because if I don’t get help, I was afraid I would project the same to him. Therapy is what helped me heal. It taught me how to view things on a different perspective,” he recalled.
He has expressed intent of launching an organisation, “Bundi for Africa” that educates and helps people fight depression.
Bundi recalls that when their videos started blowing up, the anxiety crept in, since he was receiving numerous calls from people wanting to work with them and he did not know whether they are legit or trying to take advantage of his son.
The online space has been kind to the family, and they are trending on the right direction.
Bundi notes that he teaches his son a lot about righteousness. He notes that he has prepared him for a lot that he can expect in the social media space.
‘For now I haven’t given him social media grounds. There is so much to manage right now. I don’t think I would be able to regulate everything. The only thing I have created for him is a YouTube account because I’m also trying to empower him financially for the future,” he stated.
Fayez’s first song and academic scholarship
During an interview with Tuko on May 13, Bundi revealed that he had recorded an original song with Fayez.
“The song is basically a prayer to God saying let His Kingdom come. Both of us came up with parts of the melody and lyrics although he (Fayez) is the original owner of the song,” he revealed.
He added that the opportunity also opened other doors of blessings for his talented boy following the achievement. Fayez got a full scholarship from primary to high school in the British curriculum.
“We were also approached by an animation company that wants him to voice a movie that has a boy character who is singing,” he said.
Bundi also noted that the school, which he did not disclose, would teach Fayez how to play specific instruments like violin and drums.