I was born Clive Mukundu in 1970. My nickname Mono came from a single dread log I used to have during my high school days: the monolog. I grew up in Harare. I am married to Jean who bore me two lovely children Nyasha Tariro (18) and Takakunda (16). Nyasha is actually the one who designs my album sleeves and Takakunda is a talented musician. He is a member of the Prince Edward Jazz band.
When did you discover your passion for music?
When I was 5 years old but I started learning to play a guitar when I was 9, practicing with a homemade guitar. I would play my music in secret because my parents were against it. My father used to beat me until he got tired of it because he wanted me to become a teacher.
Who inspired you to take music as a full-time job?
I have always been a passionate musician. As a guitarist, Jimmy Hendrix and Jonah Sithole who played with Thomas Mapfumo were my inspiration.
What challenges did you face during the early stages of your career?
When I formed my first band Sarungano Chanters back in 1988 there was only one studio in the country which was located in Southerton. I was in Form 3 with no income so we would walk from Kuwadzana to the studio for auditions which all failed. The band didn’t survive the disappointment.
What steps did you then take to reach to the top?
After the collapse of Sarungano I joined Chucks Brothers comprised of Admire Kasenga and Jackson Phiri among others. I later became the leader of that band before moving to Chikokoko in 1991. We recorded an album entitled Ruvengo which contained the early 90s hit Rombe Ndiyani. I then became a session musician in 1994. This is the same year my wife (then girlfriend) fell pregnant. I was under a lot of pressure so I joined Evangelist Kasi. I spent 3 years with that band at the same time playing with different musicians as a session artist. In 1999, I moved to Revival Ministries before going to Zimbabwe College of Music were I studied a National Certificate in Music. I was in the same class with Dudu Manhenga and Norman Chapambwa. On my graduation I won a prize for best guitarist. For some time I taught at the college before joining Oliver Mtukudzi’s Black Spirits. We toured the world together and recorded 4 albums. This is the same time I bought my studio equipment. In 2007 I opened Monolio Studio and became a fulltime producer. One of my first albums was Alexio Kawara’s Kana.
You have worked with many seasoned local and international musicians, what has been your greatest experience?
I am featured on more than 700 albums as a guitarist. One of my greatest lessons is the value of professionalism.
How have you managed to balance your music, family and business for so many years?
I managed through discipline, practice of good business ethics and professionalism.
With talent came fame which resulted in the death of many musicians of your generation throughHIV/AIDS related diseases. How did you manage to stay healthy?
I was raised a Christian and through this religion I learnt to adhere to certain values. Although at some point I deviated from religion I always stuck with my values.
You have recorded eight albums, how is it you don’t headline your own shows?
I have made a name as a producer and guitarist but many people do not know Mono the musician. I was not sure if people received my music well but after this album hits the market I am going to put it to the test.
Any advice for aspiring and rising musicians?
Talent is not enough to make it in the industry; it’s actually a smaller part of the equation. If you fail to manage your career you will starve.