Kioko are the definition of up and coming. They are a reggae band from Birmingham, and have recently been recording for BBC introducing. They are amazing live, they will definitely make a fan out of anyone who comes to see them. I for one went to see them, and have been replaying the gig in my head ever since. So when the opportunity presented itself to have an interview with them, I was happily obliging.
First of all just a bit of background into who does which instrument, how you guys formed and how you ended up playing at festivals and getting featured by Unilad?
Matt is our lead singer and rhythm guitarist, Ewan and Jon both provide backing vocals and play trumpet and lead guitar respectively. Ben plays bass and Loz and Josh round out our brass section. We all grew up and played in bands together for years and a couple of years a go we decided to start a new project, now here we are! We always love playing festivals, crowds are typically always up for a party and it’s great to play in front of new faces; we get a lot of bookings through our fantastic agent Serena but our local BBC team helped us out with getting on the Introducing stage at Glastonbury last year and some other festivals we played like Reading and Kendall Calling were through our friends at Frukt. The Unilad feature was great and a bit of a surprise – we recorded a video of a cover of ‘Hotline Bling’ and the guys at the Unilad Music page caught on and were kind enough to share it for us which was surreal!
Why were you drawn to playing this style of music?
We’ve always been drawn to reggae and Caribbean music in general due to its infectious dance grooves and history of great lyricists, plus coming from the West Midlands with its legacy of reggae and ska musicians it’s definitely in our heritage. We’ve always drawn a great deal of influence from these genres but we also all grew up listening to a wide range of music and like to draw from it all.
For those of us who haven’t seen you perform, could you explain what makes you guys a bit different?
From the first time we ever performed we’ve always been about having as good a time as possible on stage and sharing that good vibe with the audience. We always want to do a show that is both visually stimulating and musically interesting at the same time.
Who influences you as musicians, and who inspired you to start playing in the first place?
Our influences are always changing as we mature as people and musicians, at the moment we’re listening to a lot of Jacob Miller and Augustus Pablo. There are certain artists who we always come back to as well such as Paul Simon and Michael Jackson.
Who is your favourite band of all time? Who would you like to hear your name associated with?
I doubt we could all agree on one favourite band but a contender has always been The Wailers who we were lucky enough to support in our home town of Birmingham a couple of years a go.
What has the Sofar tour been like? Which city was your favourite?
The Sofar tour last year was a real joy. Performing in a more stripped back capacity was a challenge but really breathed new life into our set, and each show was great in its on way. It was nice to be invited to play one of the house party shows in London which is obviously how the organisation started so it was cool to get an idea of how the original Sofar shows went down.
Your music is very universal in a way, which group do you intend to target it to? What sort of ages are the fans usually?
We never really think about a particular demographic when writing a song to be honest! But we’re lucky enough to have a broad range of people at our shows. Obviously there are a lot of young people who will always come and listen to new music but the older age groups who remember the wave of reggae influenced bands coming out of the Midlands the first time around always seem to appreciate what we do as well.
For those who haven’t seen you live what would you say to convince them to come?
If you have a love for a live music and performance come and check us out, we’ll make KIOKO fans out of you yet.
What sort of things are important to you when you perform?
We place a great deal of importance on ensuring that we engage with the audience during performances. From co-ordinated brass section dance moves to general stage madness, we always aim to give a stimulating live performance without compromising on the delivery of the music.
What’s been your favourite gig?
Each gig is always different and each band member has a different response to that question. We all agree though that the first night of the Jazz Cafe in Camden supporting Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry was very special to us.
What’s been the best moment when supporting Dub Pistols?
One of the gigs supporting the Dub Pistols was in Barnstaple. As we didn’t have anything to do in the daytime we went to westward Ho! And spent the afternoon by the beach. It was a lovely moment as, previous to that tour, we had gigged in Birmingham and London more or less exclusively. Having the opportunity to be in brand new places sharing our music was, and is, very special and the moment at the beach felt like it captured the whole atmosphere of the tour perfectly.
What have you learnt from supporting them?
The Dub Pistols always bring a party atmosphere and are great at controlling the audience. We learned ways in which we could better play the crowd and interact with them to generate the kind of energy necessary to keep everyone moving during our set.
What’s the funniest thing to happen on stage?
There’s always a lot of laughs on stage at every show but one that stands out is Ewan on stage at our show supporting Dub Pistols in Brighton – after one too many lemonades he forgot where we were and started yelling ‘BRIIISTOOOOL’ down the microphone to a raucous crowd which went down like a lead balloon.
<div class=”fb-video” data-href=”https://www.facebook.com/kiokomusicuk/videos/10155144838798643/” data-width=”500″ data-show-text=”false”><blockquote cite=”https://www.facebook.com/kiokomusicuk/videos/10155144838798643/” class=”fb-xfbml-parse-ignore”><a href=”https://www.facebook.com/kiokomusicuk/videos/10155144838798643/”></a><p>Big love to all you guys! Your response to our new single 'Tired of Lying' has been incredible. Check our insta biog for link!
Here's a snippet from today's facebook live antics. Go to our page now to seen it in all its glory! 📽📽📽
K I O K O
#kioko #tiredoflying #tol #band #single #reggae #birmingham #letsbefrank #love</p>Posted by <a href=”https://www.facebook.com/kiokomusicuk/”>Kioko</a> on Sunday, 15 January 2017</blockquote></div>
What should we expect to see from Kioko in the next 4 years?
Sold out wembley show! Just kidding, on a serious note, just writing more of the music we love and sharing it with fans at bigger and better shows nationwide.
Where can we catch you next?
We’re on tour with Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry again in March in the north of England and Scotland – check our social media @KiokoMusicUK for dates. Then we have a few headline shows later in the month for the launch of our upcoming E.P ‘Let’s Be Frank’. We’ll be in London, Brighton and back home in Birmingham for these shows and have got some very exciting things up our sleeve, so make sure you get tickets quickly because if you’re a fan of live music you will not want to miss out on these gigs!
Thanks to Kioko for the words, and make sure you catch them live, it’s well worth it.
Interview by Frazer Worboys