Jonathan Chapuis, commonly known by his stage name ‘Layonn’, went viral after he did a remix to Sauti Sol’s ‘Kuliko Jana’ back in 2016. By the time of this publication, the song has over 500,000 views on YouTube. He talked to Nate’s Crest Almanac contributor Charles Gachango about his musical journey, being born to a Swiss father and a Kenyan-Ugandan mother, as well as baby mama issues and what other ventures he has been into:
The story of your upbringing is interesting. Where were you born and raised?
I was born in Switzerland on September 16th 1992, to a Swiss father and a Kenyan-Ugandan mother. 3 weeks after my birth, my parents decided to return to Mombasa – Mtwapa to be precise, where I lived with my 5 brothers and sisters. 6 years later, we moved back to Switzerland to seek better life opportunities
It is at this time that my parents separated. My mother was alone working to feed her 6 children. Suffice to say that we were far from the image of the “Mzungu” with money, a perception most people have. We were financially below the social average, but what was most important was us being together. I learnt at a very young age to fight for what I want and not rely on anyone. In 2020, I moved back to Kenya to live in Mtwapa.
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You have tried many things on top of being an artist….
Indeed, I did a lot of things in Switzerland. I was a dancer; this opened an opportunity for me to be a teacher in a dance school for a brief period. I have also been a Deejay. It gave me a chance to travel and meet a lot of people. I am also a model, this has seen me work with a lot of fashion shows – I have done photoshoots for several brands and participated in Mister Switzerland-style pageants. I started music production 10 years ago for fun and here I am today in 2020.
How do you describe your style?
Musically, I am an afro pop Artist.
Many People knew about you after that ‘Kuliko Jana’ remix. How has that impacted your Music career?
Kuliko Jana got me so many fans and followers. Kenyan media also got to know Me.
What was Sauti Sol’s reaction? Did they reach out to You after the remix?
I received a message from Sauti Sol on Instagram after I posted the cover that had been viral the first time. They asked me to send them the music but since I had only recorded 1 min, I decided to finish the music that I posted
with the clip. They posted my remix on Instagram but removed it a few hours later. Until today I don’t know the reason. Maybe one day I will know.
Well, back to your music. ‘You are’ , the song you released earlier this year is a personal experience with your Baby Mama…
This song is a true story to what I experienced a few years ago before my separation with my Baby Mama who lives in Paris with our two children. I lived in Geneva in Switzerland and the distance was eating away at us more
and more which led to arguments, the lack of trust on her part made her believe rumors and my ego on the other side made me not “waste time” to justifying myself on these ill-founded stories.
My lesson from this experience was that communication is really important. Always reassure Your spouse. It is important.
What has been the bad and the good so far in this career?
I am just getting started. Ask me this question in 2 years time.
What is the advantage(s) of an Artist being under management compared to being a free agent?
The advantage lies in the competence and commitment of the management team or the manager. I emphasize both because a competent person without commitment will take You much less far, a committed Artist can go far with just their skill while not under any management.
Where can people connect with You?
I am on all digital platforms. Twitter,Facebook, Instagram….Snapchat LAYONNNN. One Love! Stay Safe.