The man behind most successful sound at concerts
Bryan Zhawi Lifestyle Correspondent
“Engineer, sound please…,”
“ 1-2-3 testing, engineer, mic check, engineer volume bho-o here…”
How many times have you heard such words, especially at a concert with artistes trying to rectify their sound quality production on stage during the middle of a show?
With the advent of technology, it now seems a thing of the past, you no longer hear such words.
What you can hear now is quality sound.
It is true that behind the beats, crafting sonic magic, one Concert at a time in the realm of music, where the spotlight often shines brightly on artistes and performers, there exists a cadre of unsung heroes who craft the sonic landscapes that elevate musical experiences to extraordinary heights.
One such luminary in the world of sound engineering is Endelani Kachepa, a maestro behind the scenes whose journey from a church keyboard player to a renowned sound engineer is a testament to passion, dedication and the pursuit of perfection.
The Herald on Saturday Lifestyle caught up with the young man, Kachepa, of course shy talented engineer, no wonder why he is always hiding behind stage, who shared his story.
For Kachepa, it is from being a keyboard player to sound engineer, as his journey commenced in the humble setting of a church on a farm, where he honed his skills as a keyboard player.
“I was born and grew up on our farm in Hatfield,” he said. “Growing up I used to fix electrical things and in the process, I would sometimes break things that were already working just to figure out how they are made and how they work, but I never thought this would lead me to be a sound systems engineer.”
Kachepa said during the church performances, a seed was planted – a determination to master the art of sound engineering.
“I wanted to be in the aviation industry,” he said. “I was very interested in airplanes because of the proximity of our farm to the airport and I was always watching planes take off and land my entire childhood.
“This fascination and interest in airplanes faded away instantly when my father. the late Dickson Endelani Kachepa bought my brother a keyboard, this is how I came to love music.”
Passion as the North Star in a candid reflection on his career choice, Kachepa said that integrity, determination, and desire have always been the driving force behind his pursuit of sound engineering.
“I started learning the keyboard at a very young age and I was good at it then I started playing at a church on our farm,” he said.
“I played at church for about a year or two, then one of the pastors bought a PA system that was now being hired by AFM church led by Bishop Oliver Chipunza where my brother Tendai Kachepa was the one who was engineering this PA system.
“My job then was just that of a helper in carrying and loading the PA system. During the time that Bishop Chipunza was hiring the PA system, I started to play the keyboard at his church then the church bought their own PA system, but I remained at the church playing the keyboard, but the sound wasn’t always good. Thats when I decided to learn about it and I fell in love with how sound works.”
“That’s how I got into the sound engineering industry.”
Kachepa later did training in South Africa and Germany with DWR, Audiosure and TW Audio.
“I went to Prospect Primary School and Zengeza 1 High School. Not many know that I dropped out of the University of Zimbabwe where I was studying business,” he said. “I am proud to be carrying our flag across the world, representing Zimbabwe with my God-given talent.”
A symphony of success, Kachepa’s resume reads like a musical anthology, boasting collaborations with industry heavyweights such as Jah Prayzah, Burna Boy, Minister Michael Mahendere, Janet Manyowa and Travis Greene, among others.
These collaborations not only showcased his versatility, but also underscored the trust artistes place in his ability to translate studio-quality sounds to live performances.
“I have worked and done sound for a lot of artistes, including schools, Government events even funerals in the few years that I’ve been in this industry,” said Kachepa.
“I’ve worked with Everton Mlalazi, The Vine, Minister Michael Mahendere, Janet Manyowa, Zimpraise, Jah Prayzah, Freeman, Winky D, Nutty O, Burna Boy, Benjamin Dube, Dr Tumi, Travis Greene, Intotal band, Econet, Old Mutual, United Nations, Transform Africa Summit, UFIC, ZAOGA, Peter House and, Hellenic Academy.”
Again, in an era where financial success and stardom often overshadow artistic passion, Kachepa has remained resolute in his commitment to delivering unparalleled sonic experiences.
His dedication to the craft is evident in his unwavering pursuit of perfection and the desire to create memorable moments for both artistes and audiences.
Kachepa cited that it has always been a challenge to bring out the studio quality sound to the stage.
“Bringing studio quality to the stage, it’s my aspiration, my biggest goal and dream to replicate studio-quality sound in live events,” he said.
Acknowledging the difficulty of this task, Kachepa highlights the pivotal role played by artistes who share his commitment to excellence.
He pointed out that the slightest variations in the performers can have a profound impact on the live sound.
This underscores the importance of having musicians who prioritise quality and are receptive to the guidance of the sound engineer.
“The biggest challenge that I have faced and still do up to this day is working together with artistes who don’t know the basics and technicalities of sound when they are on stage,” said Kachepa.
“Some don’t even know how to hold a microphone but when it doesn’t sound right all the blame comes to us sound engineers, we have a limit to what we can fix.
“It would drastically change the arts industry if we work together with artistes and musicians, understanding each other, giving each one his or her role to play rather than interjecting one’s job.
“I remember my first gig with Everton Mlalazi and The Vine , they had their own mics, top of the range, but for some reason, they did not sound well. We then had a discussion about it and he listened and used the microphone I recommended and it worked well.”
However, a modern maestro in the digital age despite joining the industry fairly recently, Kachepa has seamlessly adapted to the digital landscape dominating the contemporary music industry.
His extensive work on digital platforms has kept him abreast of the latest technological advancements, ensuring that he delivers cutting-edge sound experiences to audiences.
A tapestry of connections Kachepa’s journey is woven with connections and collaborations that have shaped his evolution as a sound engineer.
From the early days inspired by his brother Tendai, to encounters with influential figures like Pessie from Hardsounds and Ngoni Matika from Devine Concert Sound, each interaction has contributed to his growth.
Collaborations with Blessing Bero, now a lighting and stage design virtuoso, and the introduction to the industry by
Wedzerai Shumba (aka King) further solidified his presence in the music scene.
He envisions an industry where professionals work together, recognising the diversity of tastes and aspirations within the field.
His plea is for a collective effort to elevate the music industry, keeping in mind that their work is not for personal glory but for the enjoyment of everyone attending a concert or event.
In the symphony of the music industry, Kachepa stands as a virtuoso, orchestrating flawless auditory experiences and contributing to the harmony that captivates audiences worldwide.
As his journey continues, one can only anticipate the crescendo of success and innovation he will bring to the ever-evolving world of sound engineering.