Brummie 16: apart from the “SwankyOTR” as people see and hear, tell us who is SwankyOTR?
SwankyOTR: Am aware people know me by the name Swanky OTR, of course that’s my brand name. My name is Swalleh Abdulrehman, I come from a humble muslim background. I was born in Malindi, I grewn and went to school here both primary and high school. I can say a bigger percent of my life I spent it in Malindi.
Brummie 16: Talking of spending your life in Malindi, how has your childhood here impacted your life today?
SwankyOTR: I can say, my childhood has been full of mixed activities, I just wasn’t a bored child just had to smile no matter what. I was everywhere not in soccer fields, entertainment fields like roadshows I just couldn’t sit and hear the sound of the music in larg trucks passing me so I kept following the trucks having no idea what the roadshow was about. I think this is where my interest in music started. Weekends were my favourite since my dad was a tour guider. I used to accompany him on his trips with his clients. I could notice my dad’s clients smile after taking some awesome snaps and I started having a craving of capturing splendid moments.
Brummie 16: Growing interest on both photography and music can you tell us how you dealt with both interests?
SwankyOTR: I involved myself in the music world and tried tooth and nail to come up with a lyrics but in vain, not until in high school when I came up with this rap group which I called Only Tough Rappers ( OTR ) and we started the journey together but never lasted. At that juncture of life I had no camera but the interest was still burning alive, I still hoped that one day I will have a camera of my own and fulfill my interest. So I can say I never dealt with both rather I did music as I long waited for a camera.
Brummie 16: Wow! this is getting interesting, many must be suprised like I am to know you started with music then photography! so how much longer did you wait to reach your interest ?
SwankyOTR: Sincerely, I was not that patient and i decided to start hiring cameras so I could engage in photography. I had realised that I was not being noticed when I was doing music, so I decided to brand myself via photography, that’s when I did it as an after school job in 2015 my final high school year.
Brummie 16: What do you mean branding yourself via photography?
SwankyOTR: What I mean is, I had to make my recognition familiar in the community, and photography to me was the only way, so I got known by fellow high school mates who helped me being heard among the ears of many. This made me make a pause in music and focus on photography to build my name.
Brummie 16: For a long time many have known you as a photographer, have you been using hired cameras all along?
SwankyOTR: Not really, I stopped using hired cameras. It was a bit costly so after doing photography for over a year, in 2016 a year later I bought my first camera using my savings plus my parents contribution.
Brummie 16: The long awaited moment had come and you had your first camera, would you mind telling us how it has helped you grow as a photographer today.
SwankyOTR: I think your trying to ask me how it helped me brand myself. I organised photoshoots events in different places;beaches, in the woods, streets this made people aware that there is a human called SwankyOTR somewhere. This was made easy by friend’s shoutouts, this was one way of gaining recognition as a photographer. They always spoke about Swanky the good photographer.and then I thought like lemme come up with ‘Roho yangu ‘ my first song. I opened my youtube channel SwankyOTR ( let’s go subscribe!) I did advanced photoshoot and it has been the main source of earning for me, it has made me known in my music events since I had been featured in copyright events like Safaricom’s and also in various weddings.
Brummie 16: Some might also what to know the barriers you faced as you tried to make out?
SwankyOTR: As an upcoming musician their are lots of challenges;catering for my own music production, organising on how to get shows and find a way gigs. I have been my own manager, its quiet tiresome but understoodable for an upcoming like I am. It has been difficult but am keeping up with the pace and I can strongly say I have done myself proud.
Brummie 16: Do you think these challenges have been a foundation to the SwankyOtr that we know today?
SwankyOTR: Yes the challenges built me and gave me a reason to continue with my dreams. I did this by first accepting that these were not just challenges but pillars that were preparing me for my today.
Brummie 16: SwankyOTR you might want to tell us how your music and photography has changed your life and that of the community?
SwankyOTR: In my life music has changed me a lot, starting on how I used to view things and how I handle things and how it is now, completely different. Messages in my songs triggers change in one’s dealings, they entertain. Photography I can say has done a lot in me, I can humbly say I came up with the photography trend back in 2015 in Malindi and it was a challenge for me, getting a camera via hiring trying to get an audience in a photoshoot event i plan but now the upcoming photographers are passionate are at ease with hiring my cameras at zero cost. I came with the idea because I saw the struggle I had in the beginning so to me the upcoming should not pass though the same.
Brummie 16: Having a good story Swanky, where do you see yourself in the next five years?
SwankyOTR: In five years time my desire is to leave a permanent landmark in Malindi and other regions especialy through my works of music and photography. I hope my music can get across borders of East Africa and the world. I see myself as a tutor for the upcoming artists whom I have always wished they make it. In relevance to that I intended to push them a milestone further and support them.
Brummie 16: As we wind up this aweome conversation, what has been your best experience?
SwankyOTR: I once got emotional and shed tears of joy and disbelief as the crowd got wild upon seeing me as they shouted my name on stage when I was invited for a certain show.
Having a little knowledge on SwankyOTR, lets us hear your thoughts on his songs and his works of photography. SwankyOTR is a talented upcoming artist and very prowessed in camera work we can prove this from the quality of his photos. Follow SwankyOTR in his social media accounts, like, subscribe and share his good work, he is the one to hear this week, SwankyOTR will be hosted in different radio stations.