September 28, 2020

Meet Swanky OTr, Malindi based photographer and a music artiste

Publicity gotten through nonsense will never stick

So what’s your real name, and what do you do?

My name is Swaleh Abdulrahman. I’m a photographer and music artiste.


Tell us a bit about yourself…

I was born and brought up in Ganda, Malindi. My dad had two wives. My mother had five boys and I’m the second born. I went to Maziwani Primary School and Kavunyalalo Primary School, where I did my KCPE. I later on joined Barani Secondary School.


When did you start music/ photography?

I started loving photography at the age of 10, but got more serious while in Form 2. I also started loving music while in Form 2.


How were you able to handle photography, music and school?

I must say photography got the best of me and I would sneak out of school in several occasions to go and take photos. This affected my school performance a lot. I didn’t like exams, and I sure missed a lot of them. My KCSE results were not that appealing.


How was your dad’s reaction on your KCSE performance?

He was very disappointed. I now had to prove that what I used to do could make me someone. So 2017 is the year that I got more serious with photography and music as a career. My aim was to do photography a bit differently.


How has the journey been, slightly over a year later?

Well, it has been challenging but I’m not one person to give up easily. I started by borrowing camera from friends, who are also photographers. It was quite difficult because at times I could go for photo shoots all the way at Marine Park, get paid like 1k which I was expected to pay the camera owner like 600 bob. With 400 bob minus transport to and from Marine Park, and some internet bundles to send the photos to the owners, I would end up with only 100 bob!


swanky otr


That was quite tricky! Did you manage to get your own camera?

Yes, I bought my own camera like 4 months ago. I can now concentrate on taking quality photos and growing my client base.


What do you love shooting?

I love shooting weddings.


What is the genre of your music, and what is it all about?

My style is RnB Swahili and English Afro-Pop. I sing about love and real life situations


What’s the name of your first song, and how was it received by your fans?

I released my first song “Roho Yangu” in 2017. The audio was done by K-Mode and the video by Benny Bbanda. I can say the song has been a success. Personally my girlfriend, who had left me, came back after listening to the song.


So you’re currently dating?



What do you mostly enjoy about your work as an artiste?

When my work, music or photography, is appreciated.


What are you working on now and what should we expect from you in the future?

I currently have a couple of music in the studio but am planning to drop one this coming Eid. 5 years from now I expect to open my photography brand and create employment. I also expect my music to be playing nationwide and internationally.


Who inspires you in music?

Anyone who does good music. In Kenya I love Otile Brown and Kelechi Africana. Internationally, Chris Brown inspires me a lot.


Without blinking, which artiste would you pick for a collabo?

Mr Eazi, Wizkid, Kranium, Drake


What is the best piece of advice you have received in your life?

  • Nothing comes easy
  • No talent goes unpaid


What is one character that a stranger will easily notice about you?

Any person interacting with me for the first time will notice that I’m open and caring.



We recently had the #ifikieWazazi uproar, where Kenyans online condemned the indecent photos taken by young men and women during photo shoots and posted on social media. Did your work feature on #ifikieWazazi?



What’s your advice to the young men and women who love taking such controversial photos?

Publicity never sticks to you if you got it through nonsense


Would you take a nude photo shoot job?

Sure I would but wouldn’t watermark them


What was the last movie you watched?

Black Panther


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