Interview \\ Two minutes with afrobeat collective KOKOROKO

When we ran a season of live shows in London in late 2016, we knew we had to invite KOKOROKO to launch it. We take two minutes with percussionist Onome Edgeworth to talk about influences and London’s relationship with afrobeat.

\\ You interpret music that your “parents got funky too”. Safe to say they had a good taste in records?

Haha, some of them did! Definitely not all of them though. A few of us grew up to afrobeat, highlife, mbalax, gospel and reggae. I remember Fela Kuti being played to wake us up on Spring cleaning days. I’d hear Lady or Shakara playing loud at 8am and know my whole day was about to be spent sweeping floors and washing up. It was painful!

\\ The horn section like to bust some serious moves at the live shows; it’s too hard not to dance to your music, right?

Oh they definitely do. If they’re not dancing, the rhythm section know they’re getting something wrong! They’re always leaving the stage and joining the crowd for a skank. We’re so blessed with our audiences, they always give us so much energy and it makes it easy for us to give back and play music that people move to.

Three minutes with Blue Lab Beats

\\ How is Afrobeat represented in the UK, and what challenges or opportunities does it open for you guys?

Afrobeat definitely has an audience here. People are very much interested in West African music in general and DJs love to play it. It’s amazing that we live in a city that is receptive and knowledgeable about it. At the same time though, this is largely amongst a certain crowd and we’d love to build on this and see more diversity at our shows. It would be great if we could get more young people of African descent listening to and watching live African music and the fact that we already get such great, fun crowds make this seem achievable.

 

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JS | Tina Edwards

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