If you meet him on the streets in uniform, he is an armed police officer, but on stage, Kulmax moves crowds with a mic as an artiste. He talks to Manuel Ntoyai
Kindly tell us who you are.
I am Danson Mungai, an Administration Police officer. I am also an artiste and my stage name is Kulmax.
Where did you get the moniker from?
The name came from my physical appearance. There was a friend back in high school who used to call me Mr Cool, so I swagged it a little to Kulmax.
Tell us a bit about your upbringing. I am the seventh born in a family of nine kids. My parents Absolomon Njuguna and Veronicah Wanja brought us up well amidst the struggle. I grew up in in Murang’a county, Kigumo constituency in a village called Gatumbi.
I schooled at Gatumbi Primary School then proceeded to Karega Secondary School. I was in and out of class due to lack of school fees, but I managed to clear through the grace of God. When did you start making music? I fell in love with music as a boy. I remember listening to radio and at times recording myself on cassettes.
When I joined secondary school, the level of exposure was more and I would write lyrics that I would rap for my friends. The passion for music did not die and later in life when I was financially able, I managed to record my first song, Roho Juu, in 2009.
So far, how many songs or albums have you released?
I have made more than 10 songs, working with different producers, so that I can sample different flavours from them. My first song was followed by Tunang’aa, Iko Siku, Twist and Wine, Aload Gyal, Penzi La Kisoja, Kanyangia and Tetemesha.
I have recorded three more songs, which will be released when time is right. How has the journey been as an artiste working as a police officer? It is a tough task to do, but I am committed to both. I am committed to my job as a police officer and also an artiste.
My biggest challenge, however, has been time constraints due to the nature of my work. At times, I am stationed in areas where access to a studio is difficult . But with the little time I get, I use my God-given talent to make a positive difference.
Talking of difference, in what ways has your music impacted the youth?
Young people are the future of any nation. If we have to make Kenya a better place, we need to start now. We need to engage the youth in meaningful participation and spread awareness on topics such as drugs and substance abuse.
We also need to help them understand the consequences of their behaviour and the impact they have on others, and to encourage them to take responsibility for their actions.
I use music to engage the youth and it’s been greately helpful, as some have even opened up to me on various social and even family challenges they go through. From this kind of interraction, I am able to know what assistance I can offer.
Do you have a stage experience you will never forget?
There’s this day I was performing at a National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (Nacada) at KICC and the event was packed to the rafters.
I started with my song Sema Zii (say no to drugs), but as soon as I’d started, a technical hitch rocked the equipment. I had to do the song without a microphone. It was an awkward experience.
Has working in the police always been your dream job?
I joined the Administration Police in 2005. As a small boy, I used to think police and army people had magical powers, but when I grew up I realised the ‘magic’ was in serving people. And since I was also interested in music, I can say I am living the life I used to dream of.
Are you a family man?
Yes. I have a beautiful wife called Kelly, and we are blessed with an adorable daughter. How do you spend your free time? I like spending it outdoors with my family, mostly doing swimming.
Do you have a personal mantra you live by?
It’s not over until it’s over.