The sound of: Gondwana KE
“Finding the ‘Kenyan sound’ is a quest that a lot of people have been on for years,” Suraj continues, “and I think everyone here brings something unique and special to the table – it’s is the Kenyan sound. But for us at Gondwana KE we try to infuse everything from local instruments to working with local tribes, musicians, lingo – all of that.
“We try to be considerate and we have the platform, so if we can do it right, why not? Said Euggy. “We’re trying to see how we can accommodate people, to make sure we can use the platform in a positive way. It makes me really proud to know that we can bring other countries and worlds closer to understanding music. “
Further south, Gondwana KE has been successful in bringing its offerings to like-minded enthusiasts in South Africa, where Afro-house originally found its footing. Continuing to build the pipeline between Kenya and South Africa, Gondwana released solid work in SA duo Frigid Armadillo’s single “Tukaina” in 2021, featuring one of Kenya’s superstars, Ayrosh.
Back home, Frigid Armadillo had burst onto the stage almost out of the blue with the enigmatic EP ‘Adam’s Calendar’ for Aluku Records the previous season, bringing fierce creativity and fervor to the Afro-house that was missing. so far to the genre. . Demand for the pair was high, but the chemistry between them and Gondwana proved to be undeniable. With records as revolutionary as ‘Tukaina’, the EP ‘Ike’ of Chronicle Deep and the ‘Benin Compilation’ with Kususa, Malkia Band and Sun El Musicianon, Gondwana saw great synergy with pioneers eager to bring new energy to afro genres.
“We came out of a very successful remix with Kato Change and Winyo in ‘Abiro’, and it opened the doors to us in a promising way,” says Suraj. “We made a connection with South Africa and took some of our strongest inspiration from it to work on this song and help release and promote it. Artists like Da Capo – who did three remixes of ‘Abiro’ – along with FKA Mash and Black Coffee played it every set for two years, which helped a lot. After that we decided to go back to the studio to see what else we could do, but then that was when Covid hit.
Such was Covid-19’s grip on Kenya that Suraj and Euggy were forced to rethink the kind of music that would suit people now unable to fully enjoy it in the usual outdoor settings – something that is so beautifully exemplified in Gondwana’s visual identity, spearheaded by the imaginative Sajan and Akash Chotai. (Akash provided vivid images in photographic form to Gondwana KE at their events, capturing the essence of Kenya’s landscapes and club scenes, while graphic designer Sajan provided the cover while trading under the name from BizBoxKenya.) Putting their heads together, Suraj and Euggy decided to change course and work on something closer to home, in the five-track EP ‘Sazile’ by local artists Kato Change, Winyo and SURAJ.
“It was the first time that we, as the Gondwana KE label, decided not to focus on Traxsource and Beatport, which are our main platforms for releasing music. It worked pretty well for us and we realized that we can really bring people together with our music, both locally and internationally, ”says Suraj.
The light energy of ‘Sazile’ resonated well with Gondwana KE fans. Esteemed guitarist and singer Kato Change was able to expand and merge his emotional and acoustic feelings with delicately arranged electronic elements, resulting in an EP that brought comfort during a time of uncertainty. Gondwana KE’s upcoming release saw Euggy, Punk Mbedzi and Akoth Jumadi collaborate on ‘Weche’.
“We went into confinement and it seemed strange to us to promote dancefloor music, which represents 70% of our catalog,” explains Euggy. “We slowed down and started making music that people could listen to. I thought about trying to continue, and ‘Weche’ became the second [part] of this movement. We found Akoth Jumadi and loved his style, so we tried to merge his DhoLuo sound – which is my native language – with ours. There is a lot of meaning and message here, and this is the backbone we want to continue with. “
Whether or not Covid-19 is around for much longer, Gondwana KE aims to remain flexible, creating music for all occasions with the best intention and execution. While it seems unlikely that communities in rural areas of an African country will be vaccinated anytime soon, Kenya’s nightlife seems poised to thrive from the city to the countryside and far beyond without dwelling on an African past. mysterious and dark, but rather on a modern side – African electronic experience: a forward-looking appreciation of all that African music is and can be.
Listen to the mix of The Sound Of by Gondwana KE below.