DIY music mavericks, KOKOKO! are at the forefront of Kinshasa’s alternative sound.
Words: Tshiamo Seape
Bringing together an assortment of Congo’s finest young musical talents has been the passion and pleasure of producer, Debruit (Xavier Thomas), whose vision and direction delivered KOKOKO! almost fully formed, to the world less than two years ago. The rest of the group is made up of pioneering musicians hailing from the Ngwaka neighbourhood of Kinshasa including vocalists Makara Bianko and Love Lokombe.
Makara having honed his talents at a musical residency in Lingwala where he performs six nights a week alongside his dancers.
The fusion of indigenous Congolese sounds with elements of punk, funk and electronic music drives each element forward into a contemporary space with a percussive and infectious energy.
One of the most surprising and perhaps endearing aspects of the group’s musicality – and unlikely formation – is their use, almost exclusively, of homemade instruments: coffee cans, water jugs and repurposed junk make for the guitars, drums and synthesisers of the genres they adore but whose tools they have little access to.
Still with only an EP, a few singles and a handful of remixes under their belt – one of which coming courtesy of DJ Lag – KOKOKO! is still in the nascent stages of a promising career that is pushing the very necessary message that African does not have to mean Afrobeat – something very valuable for advancing the narrative of music from the continent. Dive a little deeper into the music of this one of a kind act below and tell us what you think.