KOKOKO!'s 'Buka Dansa' Music Video & Chemical Brothers Remix Out Now!
Kinshasa collective KOKOKO! released their brilliant debut album, Fongola, last month to critical acclaim. They have garnered support from The Guardian, Mixmag, Mojo, Dazed and i-D Magazine amongst others, as well as scoring a number of playlist inclusions at 6 Music.
Today they share the music video for "Buka Dansa". The band explain:
"Dido Oweke wakes up at home, and fantasises about making it. Being a star. Having cool people behind him and supporting him, the hype that goes with it. Everything. We follow his imagination from the tough neighbourhood he lives in to the party of his dreams, where he becomes the frontman, discovers the "Japanese" Sapuers of Kinshasa and sings his song - 'Buka Dansa'."
KOKOKO! have played a handful of UK festivals including Latitude festival and Blue Dot, where at the latter they were described as "the weekend's most dynamic new act" (The Times) and they'll be back at the end of August for End Of The Road festival and returning again in November for some headline shows including London's Fabric.
KOKOKO! began in 2016 in Kinshasa. Electronic artist Débruit was in town working on a film soundtrack and began collaborating with Makara Bianko, a charismatic singer who performs with his dancers to electronic loops, and separately with a number of ingenious musical instrument creators and artists. They threw a spontaneous block party, and though many of them hadn't known each other previously, the energy really clicked between Makara Bianko, Débruit, Boms Bomolo, Dido Oweke, Love Lokombe and Bovic Mwepu (who has since passed away), and together they became the founding members of the group KOKOKO!, which is part of a wider collective of multidisciplinary artists.
Signed with independent label Transgressive (Flume, SOPHIE, Let's Eat Grandma), their distorted polyrhythms and spontaneous lo-fi sounds provide a chaotic soundtrack to their home country. When most people think of culture in the Democratic Republic of Congo, it's The Rumble in The Jungle fight of Muhammad Ali vs George Foreman and the accompanying Soul Power concert with James Brown in the 70s, Mobutu in his abacost and leopard print hat, les sapeurs in their elegant tailoring, and the king of Congolese rumba Papa Wemba. A faded vintage postcard. KOKOKO! represent the antithesis of tradition, and their debut album Fongola - which translates to "the key" - is a torrid, anarchic, youthful journey smashing a new path through modern life in Africa's third most populous city.
Life in Kinshasa is tough. Since its inception three years ago the band have lost their drummer to lung cancer, a dancer from their wider collective to electrocution, had homes destroyed by police, safety concerns at election time, visa struggles and a lucky incident with a crocodile. Yet the subject matter of the album is far from a one dimensional lament about struggle and hardship. Their lyrics explore love, sorcery and magic, the need to take things slowly in life, greed and corruption and the importance of being heard and understood.
The kind of people who can afford imported guitars and drum kits in Kinshasa live very different lives to the people who make instruments out of sardine tins, water bottles and engine parts. Imitation wasn't an option, which necessitated innovation. The resulting album is experimental electronic music, but it doesn't fit neatly within any genre. Most of the sounds on this project can't be replicated, as anyone trying to tune a one-string guitar made out of a bike brake and a powdered milk tin can attest to! What started as a financial challenge resulted in a creative advantage.
Being an artist gives you special privileges in Kinshasa because it's seen as an important role, andFongola is an urgent and vitally important expression of the talent which is thriving and leading the way artistically from the toughest and most unlikely of places.
Fongola is available on limited edition LP, CD and Cassette, with the band also making exclusive KOKOKO! signed photographs available. The album can be purchased from their official website.
To accompany the release, the band head out on an extensive world tour. They'll perform at various summer festivals across the UK and Europe, then head to North America and then the band return to the UK for November headline shows including shows at iconic spots such as London Fabric and Berlin Berghain.
Tickets are available here. Watch the "Buka Dansa" video below.
Fongola North America Headline Tour
20 Sep - Cedar Cultural Centre, Minneapolis
24 Sep - Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto
25 Sep - Pop Montreal, Montreal
27 Sep - Deluxx Fluxx, Detroit
28 Sep - Lotus World Music & Arts Festival, Bloomington
2 Oct - Rock N Roll Hotel, Washington DC
3 Oct - Boot & Saddle, Philadelphia
4 Oct - Le Poisson Rouge, New York City
5 Oct - BU Global Music Festival, Boston
8 Oct - The Echo, Los Angeles
9 Oct - New Parish, Oakland
11 Oct - Jack London, Portland
12 Oct - Barboza, Seattle
Fongola UK/EU Headline Tour
13th Nov - Stadtgarden - Cologne
14 Nov - Berghain - Berlin
15th Nov - TransCentury Update - Leipzig
16th Nov - Vega - Copenhagen
20th Nov - Kampnagel - Hamburg
21st Nov - Worm - Rotterdam
22nd Nov - Vooruit - Ghent
26th Nov - Band On The Wall - Manchester
28 Nov - Fabric - London
29th Nov - Nitsa - Barcelona
3rd Dec - Grand Mix - Tourcoing
4th Dec - Botanique - Brussels
5th Dec - La Soufflerie - Nantes
7th Dec - Gaite Lyrique - Paris
12th Dec - Red Bull Music Academy - Istanbul