Ingrid Fossum, 26, is a Norwegian artiste who has embarked on a music career in Tanzania. Locally she’s known as ‘Makihiyo’, a tribal name given to her by her host family in Tanga.
Ingrid is the youngest of two sisters. She grew up in a very small town a few hours from Oslo, Norway.
Of late, the new artiste has been on the spotlight in bongo flava thanks to her first released song; a collaboration with RnB king Ben Pol, titled ‘Ni Wako’.
Ingrid first came to Tanzania in 2014 to do a cultural project. “Tanzania quickly became like a second home, and since then I have travelled here many times to do music and dance projects and to visit my Tanzanian family,” she says.
Upon her arrival in the country, Ingrid lived with a family in Tanga for a couple of months, and within that period she fell in love with the culture and affection shown to her by the locals. “The people of Tanzania are truly kind and welcoming in a special way,” she says in appreciation.
Her love for the Swahili culture ultimately led to her love for Tanzanian music. “Tanzanian music is comprised of a different style than the music I used to listen to, but I started loving it very quickly. One reason for that is that it’s such a strong part of the culture here. Everywhere I go, on buses, in restaurants and in peoples’ homes, they are mostly playing the music of Tanzanian artistes,” Ingrid points out.
The nature of the activities she did in Tanzania paved a way for her to embark on a musical journey – a journey she has embraced to date.
“When I lived in Tanga I used to do a project teaching kids of primary school to sing and dance. It was during this project that I got the idea to start doing my own music here,” she reveals. Using Swahili in her songs was a default occurrence that stemmed from her love for the language, a language she describes as “musical”.
While she does music in Tanzania, Ingrid is also a student in her home country Norway, where she’s studying to be a teacher. It is a daunting task juggling between studying in Norway and doing music in Tanzania; Ingrid states that the combination keeps her busy. But that is about to change soon because she only has four months left of her studies.” After that I hope to fully concentrate on my music. Music is my big passion, so I will always make time for it,” she asserts.
Prior to coming to Tanzania, the debut artiste was already familiar with music back in her home country. “I’ve been doing music in Norway since I was a child, especially traditional music, and I’ve been performing and also teaching for years,” she says. But her latest song in Swahili is the first time she’s taken her music to the studio, and her plan is to continue with music.
Ingrid describes her music genre as ‘Afro pop’, but plans to use different styles and add some more traditional flavours to her songs in the future.
Collaborating with Ben Pol on her first song
Ni Wako is about meeting someone who slowly, almost unknowingly grows on you, and you realise that he or she brings so much happiness to your life. “Ben wrote the lyrics and when he presented them to me, I instantly felt connected to the song,” a delighted Ingrid speaks. Choosing Ben Pol for a collaboration among the many Tanzanian talents on offer wasn’t by coincidence, Ingrid says she fell in love with Ben’s music when she heard his hit song Sophia. “He has a very beautiful voice, and I love how he plays with different music styles and that he’s always looking for new ways to challenge himself musically,” she says.
Ni Wako has received positive reception from fans and music pundits, who’ve praised Ingrid for her articulation of Swahili words. The artiste had to tap into her adaptive and creative side in order to grasp the lyrics that were in a foreign language and pull off an amazing performance.
“It is a bit hard to sing in another language, especially because when you’re singing it’s not only about pronunciation – you want to keep all the feeling and musicality at the same time. Fortunately I’m getting used to it, and I truly love singing in Swahili, so I managed to master the song for recording in about three days,” says Ingrid.
This first collaborative work with a Tanzanian artiste won’t be her last, “stay tuned for more,” she says. After the success of Ni Wako, it’s only fair that she capitalise on the wave of popularity that has come with her first single.
As a new artiste in bongo flava, Ingrid hasn’t been impervious to challenges. She recognises the amount of effort it takes for an artiste to breakthrough in the industry.
“There are a lot of talented artistes in Tanzania, so in addition to doing good music you have to know how to promote it. It takes time to know the industry, especially when you’re not from Tanzania.
However, I take it as a challenge to keep improving the music itself, and until now people have been very welcoming, so I’m happy for that,” she says.
When it comes to future music projects, currently Ingrid is working on her own song, which she plans on releasing soon. After that, the artiste, who’s still trying to find footing on Tanzania’s music industry wants to keep developing her style, and to work with other African and Norwegian artistes.
What’s your favorite pastime?
Music and dance!
What’s your relationship status?
What’s the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you?
When I was 10 years old, I had a sleepover at my friend’s house for the first time. During the night I walked in my sleep and woke up between her parents in their bed. That was pretty embarrassing!
Your favorite dance style
Afro house and lingala