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What’s the deal with... Kokoko!

Meet the Congolese collective who fashion their own instruments and have their own melting pot of musical styles

By April Clare Welsh
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Why are you shouting about the famous Camden venue?

I’m not! Kokoko! is the name of an innovative music collective who formed miles away from north London – at a block party in the Democratic Republic of Congo three years ago.

When you say ‘collective’, are there lots of people involved?

Yes, 70 dancers, instrument-makers, musicians and performance artists make up the wider DIY collective. However, the key five-piece band comprise Débruit, Boms Bomolo, Dido Oweke, Love Lokombe and Makara Bianko (aka the Lingwala devil, whose zagué – the language spoken in some parts of the DRC – vocals illuminate their sound).

DIY? Like painting and decorating?

Actually almost. Kokoko! make their own instruments from upcycled materials like sardine tins, engine parts, typewriters and plastic water bottles. What started out as a financial necessity has brilliantly become their creative calling card.

What kind of instruments do they make?

Their latest single, ‘Kitoko’, was recorded using a sculptured, cross-shaped harp called ‘Jesus Crise’. They have also transformed a typewriter into a percussion instrument, pitched bottles of water to play melodies and fashioned a one-string guitar from a bike brake and a milk tin.

Wow. How would you describe their sound?

‘Fongola’, KOKOKO!’s must-hear debut album, is a hot, dizzying mess of psychedelic, hook-laden, no-wave post-punk, polyrhythmic fire and politically charged lyrics.

They sound like the perfect festival band.

They are! Catch them in August at either Green Man or at End of the Road. This is one of those bands you have to see live.

Want more festivals closer to home? Try these London summer music events on for size.

Swot up on more brilliant new acts

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