It’s not surprising that Sauti Sol’s new documentary reality series Sol Family has been among the top ten most watched content on Showmax since it premiered in August.
Created by Eugene Mbugua (Concert Nyumbani, Our Perfect Wedding), Sol Family offers fans a glimpse into the personal lives of Sauti Sol members Bien, Chimano, Polycarp and Savara, as well as Sol Generation’s Nviiri and Bensoul.
With this show, which airs on Maisha Magic, with episodes coming to Showmax at the same time, Sauti Sol are looking to “inspire a generation of epic thinkers” as Savara puts it, by showing them their lives beyond the music and the stardom; their passion in their craft; and their vulnerability and realness.
“It’s not like we’ve set up a scenario and we’re like, ‘Okay act this out.’ It’s just realness,” says Polycarp. “We’re talking about our actual lives. We’ve been in the industry for 15 years, and we have so much to talk about, so much to share with the people.”
For a show birthed in the bleakest period – during the uncertain early days of the coronavirus pandemic – the response from fans has been overwhelming. Like everyone else, Sauti Sol’s lives were disrupted by the pandemic – they had to cancel numerous events and global tours, even resorting to a virtual launch of their new album Midnight Train. Therefore, Sol Family couldn’t have come at a better time.
“When corona happened and we started making all this content, we didn’t know what we were preparing ourselves for,” says Bien. “All the content we’ve created over the last four months has now started to be put out, and it’s clearly working because people are really connecting with this reality show beyond a glam level.”
Bien adds that the show is not what people expected. “They expected to see cars, partying, those things they associate celebrities with, and now they’re realising, Polycarp is a husband, Delvo (Savara) is a boyfriend and Sauti Sol is growing up before our eyes… the humanity aspect, which people are connecting with in this program, is what’s actually the fuel for doing more.”
Even though they’re used to being in the spotlight, it wasn’t easy letting in cameras into their lives to capture these vulnerable and personal moments that their fans are resonating with. “We’re used to cameras, yes, but the overwhelming part for me is literally having cameras everywhere, even when you just want to be yourself… but sometimes getting you at those moments is what is key,” Chimano says.
While Sauti Sol’s journey is inspirational to many, it is the stories of their two Sol Generation protégés – Nviiri and Bensoul – that Bien finds most impactful in the already-aired seven episodes of Sol Family. He says the show reveals Nviiri and Bensoul in a way they (Sauti Sol) didn’t know before, like finding out that Bensoul grew up in a slum in Embu. “When I look at him now, I can’t believe he’s the same guy who grew up in the ghetto.” It’s an emotional episode that made him cry, Bien admits.
During this interview, which you can watch below, Polycarp also talks about how it feels to be a first-time dad (and the first Sauti Sol member to be a father), saying that having a baby is a cocktail of anxiety, excitement and fear sometimes. “You just have to stay positive because there’s mental health and postpartum depression that comes with it. These are some of the things I’d like to talk about to help other dads and dads-to-be.”
On his part, Savara says that he’s learning so much from Polycarp and that he inspires all of them. “I love Polycarp and Amanda and it’s just nice to see love mature…We’re brothers, so his child is mine as well.”