Arguably the best artist the country has ever produced, Atlasaone Molemogi,affectionately known as ATI has been nominated five times for this year’s Botswana Musicians Union (BOMU) awards for his latest offering; Envelope.
Currently dominating the airwaves, Molemogi has become famous for his unconventional performances like appearing on stage in a closed casket, to performing mid air on a front loader and his recent stunt yet, where he rocked up wearing a skirt at the Botswana National Sports Council awards as he is known for his smash hits.
Voice reporter, Sharon Mathala visited the energetic star at his studio this week to discuss his success story.
Q. Welcome back to the limelight, it’s been two years without releasing an album, what was going on?
A. I was going through a lot of personal issues and no longer inspired.
There was no creativity in me and my connection with the music and my creative juices were at an all time low.
I couldn’t even release a song because I felt everything I had was below the standard of what I wanted to give the public.
Q. Your 20 -track album, Envelope, what inspired it?
A. The fortunate thing about this album is that there were more than 300 songs to choose from.
I had a whole good year to reflect.
I spent all my time in the studio, I slept there, ate there, bathed there.
Literally I lived in the studio for a year.
I feel the album has enough of everything that I wanted in it.
It’s not a boastful album, it is more of a realistic album of what you and I go through on daily basis.
Q. What does Khiring Khiring Khorong means?
A. It is the sound of impact really, like the sound that the old telephones made.
Q. Previously you had said as a way of marketing the album, you would pull a stunt whereby you would seem to be floating on air, what happened to that idea?
A. It is still in my plans; it is only that I had to struggle financially.
I went for two years without a booking and it contributed to my failure to pull that stunt.
Q. You have been nominated in five categories at the coming Botswana Musicians Union (BOMU) awards, what are your expectations?
A. I don’t know how I will do but I have told myself that whatever award that I will from this album, I will donate it to the National Museum, I won’t take it home because this album is for the people and not for me.
Q. There was controversy back then after your hit song ‘Ke lekhete” failed to get an award for the best Song, how did you feel?
A. Although it frustrated me then, I sometimes look back and reflect on it.
I feel that had I won I would have gone off the rails because I was still young and immature, that alone has taught me to appreciate life.
I got to become a better artist by not winning anything.
Awards no longer matter that much to me.
Q. How do you handle pressure that comes with fame of being an artist of your calibre?
A. You know some people say I am on drugs while some say I am insane because I sometimes walk barefooted at the mall and all that, but look, having a lot of following has not made me big headed.
I hardly go to places people go to because all attention diverts to me.
I am always on the road performing, or recording at night, that type of life is bound to impact on you as a normal human being.
I mean your eating and drinking habits automatically change, and people expect me to behave in a certain way, but at the end of the day I express how I feel any day every day.
Q. Tell us about the diss track that was recorded by Ozi F Teddy after you had a public spat with him?
A. I do not even think it’s a music thing. Haters hate.
You do not need to be meters away from a microphone to hate, people just hate.
Ozi F teddy just radiates hate. I know he will outgrow that childish behavior since I know him on a personal level.
I don’t respond to such things because it will fuel his behavior.
He changed our private conversation to suit him.
Q. Why is your life filled with so much controversy?
A. (laughs) I just live my life the way I live it.
People always make insinuations about everything and everyone.
People who are praising me now are the very same people who will drop me tomorrow.
The important thing I always say is to get to know people and get to know situations.
Q. Explain your recent dress code at the BNSC awards.
A. We have homosexual people around us and I have experienced a homophobic encounter not so long ago at one of my circles and it did not sit well with me.
Homosexuality is a very serious issue, it has broken families.
I mean if you are straight and you got a wife what does it mean to you if a man is sleeping with another man.
So I was taking advantage to take the platform given to me to make a point.
Q. What are you doing when you are not in the studio?
A. I drink! I mean what else is there to do? I’d be watching people around the streets, getting inspiration or I’d be on the road and performing around the country.
Q. What do your tattoos represent?
These are smileys. They represent my life that is why I have the smiley face and the sad face, which basically sums up life.
Q. What about the teardrop on your right eye, what does it symbolize?
A. When I chose to make music, I made the conscious decision to make sad songs.
I chose to be that artist who sings sad songs and completed it with a teardrop.
When I do make happy songs someday, the teardrop will come off.
You may have noticed that when I do features I never have the teardrop because most of them are not sad songs.
Q. Lastly, you have a serious case of kidnapping, what happened?
A. I am innocent. I did not do it. The truth is a lot money went missing.
The money I made from the show and the money I injected into making the show and this was a huge sum of money.
It took about four years of my career to make back the money I had lost, the case is continuing again next year and will soon be settled.
Q. Who is the special person in your life?
A. I do not have any.
Q. TGIF, what will you be up to?
A. I will be performing; I have a few shows lined up so I’ll be working.