Oroma Geoffrey -The Architect That Makes Music Accessible
Writers and theorists have long misquoted German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832) as having said “music is liquid architecture, architecture is frozen music.” It was later adapted to Architecture is Music in Stone.
Architect by profession, Oroma Geoffrey soon discovered his personal connection between architecture and music when he was introduced to guitar and dance. He talks about it in this interview with Patricia Opio.
Tell us about yourself. Briefly introduce yourself and your company/what you do.
I am an Architect, Entrepreneur, BYM Summit 2021 Alumni, Founder & Director of Abiro Consults and Shanxo Music. I have over 10 years experience in Concept Development, Design, Project Management and Leadership.
The phrase “Architecture Is Music In Stone” started making sense to me shortly after school, when I gave in to my love for music. I realized that growing my knowledge in music elevated my creativity and motivation, so I invested in it and has never regretted that decision.
In 2013, I found myself in a situation where I had to learn to play a guitar. The people who used to play in the school band had left campus. Luckily, my uncle had left his guitar at home which turned out to be a blessing.
On this journey of learning, I noticed that 3 in 10 people that I met have the desire to learn music. Yet most people do not get the opportunity due to their busy work schedules, long distance to a music school or the high cost.
In 2017, I had an opportunity to teach guitar and soon after, other gigs came up. I also became interested in learning other musical instruments. I looked for people who were capable of teaching the required skills.
Two years down the road, we created flexible, accessible and affordable opportunities for people to learn, improve or make a career out of their passion. We called the program “ChordSpot”.
As a by-product of congregating performers (vocalists, instrumentalists, dancers, actors), we have instituted live musical concerts that have attracted over 2,000 people (online views).
My company Shanxo Music provides live musical performances for entertainment and flexible training opportunities for the performing arts. We harness the power of live music and performances from local ordinary talents to provide distinct productions and training for those interested in learning.
Learning happens at the learners’ convenience in their neighborhood. While those who teach and perform, earn a decent livelihood in a split time using their talents…hence freeing them to do their other schedules.
What was the turning point to lead you to where you are now – this moment? What or who inspired you?
I was fascinated with dance at the time I joined senior one. That year, I watched how senior four students enjoyed dance at their leavers party and I too wanted to dance and enjoy like them.
But it was only until I reached senior four that I got the opportunity to go out and learn how to dance in nightclubs. Senior fours in that school were very unruly, and could do whatever they wished.
I did learn to dance. I loved it and so did the people who noticed my talent.
However, I picked up drinking and clubbing which derailed me but my turning point came in my senior six. I met some guys in a dance crew with way better dance moves than the ones we did in the night clubs. They danced in church, even during the day. This blew my mind because I was used to night club performances only.
I remember thinking: “what if I could learn well how to dance in the light and not have to hide from parents and stay away from catching harmful lifestyles?”
That was the beginning. I sought to create an opportunity / place where young people who are passionate about the performing arts could learn, grow their talents or even make a career out of their passion. Without getting into other unnecessary harmful lifestyles or habits. An opportunity that I didn’t have at the time.
I am heavily inspired by an international artist called “Lacrae“. He made it his mission to bring change in his community. A community that was wrecked with addictions and deaths of young people due to dangerous lifestyles. He used his music and his lifestyle to effect the change and is still pushing it on.
How has the journey/ride been in building your company or career? The obstacles and the successes. You can give examples
On the passion/talent end, it has been heaven on earth. I have learnt many other new performing arts skills. I met a lot of likeminded young people. I got exposure to a very fulfilling life even without having the physical possessions that some of my peers have.
On the organization/business end, it has been very challenging. The industry is primarily dominated with poverty and lack of income from pursuing the passion.
Audiences rather pay for international entertainment options rather than the local ones. This has made the pursuit of the performing arts passion more of a hobby than something that can provide a decent livelihood for us.
Taking on the challenge has exposed me to the world of business that I don’t think I would have stumbled upon if I had stayed on the professional lane. It has modeled the entrepreneur in me. And opened up so much possibilities of how to effectively make money from doing whatever I do.
On a personal level, I constantly battle imposter syndrome and having to hide the passion of the performing arts from anyone who may not understand it, including family.
“Some of the groups that we engage to work with are typical products of the performing arts ‘hobby characteristics’. They are not willing to pursue it as a business or career. This makes it hard to work with them to achieve a long-term goal.”Geoffrey Oroma
I have been able to get more national and international visibility because of my pursuit of the performing arts as a business. Amongst other successes, I was have been part of the “Brightest Young Minds” 2021 Summit. I have inspired so many peers into pushing forward their passion and talents. Even when it seems like it isn’t worth it.
What advice would you give a fellow creative wanting to enter your sector?
I would inform them about how fulfilling it is to pursue their passion and talents over the social existing norms. It is now possible to pursue it and make a decent living out of it. I have seen it by myself.
Additionally, we (Shanxo Music) exist to provide a safe space for them to start and grow. I would advise creatives to work hard on becoming the best at what they do and avoid being mediocre.
What are your future dreams?
We hope to raise over UGX 15 billion within 5 years through investors and crowd funding. We will be building our physical facility for performing artists with enough space for them to express themselves, make money and do administration for their own passions.