Spotlight of the Week: Ben Mulwana

Ben Mulwana is a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist born and raised in Uganda, although he’s lived in Wisconsin for nine years now. His music is heartfelt and soulful, evoking a sense of familiarity that retains uniqueness. His latest single “Lies of the Devil” came out at the end of 2019 and he’s been working on new music to be released soon.

SLOWEY: My first question is, how did you get involved with Wisconsin Music Ventures?

MULWANA: So I met Allison over at an open mic up in Milwaukee at Bottle House 42. I was just trying to get into the Milwaukee scene; I’d been playing in the Kenosha area for the last few years and Milwaukee was one of those places I really wanted to play but I just didn’t know anyone, so I started going to open mics like Linneman’s Riverwest Inn. Then I just started looking for any open mic that I could find, so I ended up at Bottle House 42 and I happened to run into Allison. She told me about Wisconsin Music Ventures and I was hoping it’d help open more doors for me, and it did. She and Bruce have been amazing.

SLOWEY: Right on, that’s awesome! I’d say you did all the right things to get into the scene. Allison’s good to have around too.

MULWANA: I’ve heard her sing too, and I was blown away. She’s got some vocals, like she’s really good.

SLOWEY: Oh does she? I didn’t know that. I’m kind of pissed she hasn’t sung for me yet! I’d love to hear her.

SLOWEY: Ben, tell me about your most recent single “Lies of the Devil.”

MULWANA: Yeah, so I started writing it in 2018 but I hadn’t really felt the full emotions of it until I really experienced them in 2019, and so I sat down and began putting them into words. The term “lies of the devil” itself was something me and my friends used to say when someone told an obvious lie, because it’s one of those lies that we all know, and you know that we know. I wrote it for my ex because it was a relationship that is defined in the song; it ends tragically and there’s a lot of heartbreak that went into it but I think that it addresses the rage and revenge state that comes immediately after finding out you were betrayed. I’m super glad it’s mostly metaphorical because I don’t want to go to jail (laughs).

SLOWEY: Thank you for sharing that.

SLOWEY: What’s your favorite town in Wisconsin to play outside of Milwaukee?

MULWANA: I played in Eau Claire at a place called The Acoustic Cafe. When I was there for the first time it was like $25 for a sandwich and coffee, and I’d driven five hours to get up there because I really just needed to get in somewhere. And then I met some really cool people who invited me back, and so the next show after that was a show at Stone’s Throw, which was just one of the most amazing places and I got a really good reception. The town itself had a lot of spirit and was very welcoming; I really liked it. I also love Kenosha but it’s almost a cheat to say that because I’m right here.

SLOWEY: I’ve actually never spent time in Eau Claire but I’ve heard that people have had some good shows up there. I hope to experience it sometime.

SLOWEY: Do you prefer summer or winter?

MULWANA: Summer, without a doubt (laughs). I do not love winter at all. I grew up where the lowest it got was 65 degrees and we’d pull out a coat. It was like hell was freezing over (laughs). When I came to Kenosha, I originally came to visit my friend at Carthage College – which is where I went to school – and it was in June so we went to the beach and took strolls down the pier. I thought it was paradise. I was in Virginia before and when winter hit it was terrible.

SLOWEY: I’m from the Chicago area so I’ve been in the Midwest my whole life, and I hate the winter. And for some reason I decided to go even farther north for school (laughs). It’s brutal here.

SLOWEY: My last question for you, Ben, is what you’re working on now?

MULWANA: Right now there’s actually a lot of irons in the fire. There’s a single that we’re working on recording called “Candy Floss” and I’m really excited about that one. I wrote it with my cousin and my friend so there’s definitely a lot of storytelling and angles of looking at love; there’s also a lot about not wanting to be alone but ending up being alone. There’s something that I’m working on that should be out in January, which is going to be a live album with four new songs on one side and four old songs on the other. We’re going to really lean towards a vinyl experience and have a release party in a live setting with the full band.

SLOWEY: Sweet, well I’m looking forward to hearing it!
Visit Ben Mulwana’s website here.

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