Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Rash BanD, brInGIng bAck the oLd sChoOl

This five member Kenyan Rock Band has made waves in the relatively short period its been in existence. You have probably heard their single, Darkness and witchcraft on X-FM a few times. The band has also graced various prominent stages from this years Rift Valley Festival to Blankets and wine. This Kenyan rock bands roots go deep, citing old school rock influences such as Pink Floyd and ACDC. The band speaks about its music, the local rock scene and its plans.

You guys and music: when did the love affair begin and when did you guys decide to come together as a band?
-well the love affair began way back in 2012 when Abed (rhythm guitarist) met with Max (lead guitarist) in campus. Max was mesmerised when Abed played a Metallica song on his acoustic guitar and they exchanged numbers and the band was conceived. Apparently Max's brother (Sebas) is a bassist and once the idea was sold to him he was in for it...Sam, the lead vocalist came into the picture when Abed and Max met him in campus and they asked him to help them perform for a campus event. After that event Sam not show any signs of leaving the bunch. He was already in...Gakosh (Drummer) came in handy two weeks to the campus event after the former drummer was not committed...so we came together as a band in September 2013 and we started doing it professionally. That's when Maz came in as our manager 

Describe your style of music.
We play hard rock but our style is kind of old school style...our kind of music was popular in the 80's and its awesome because we are doing it in the 21st century.

Why call yourselves Rash?
Its symbolic of the fact that when a rash makes the skin itch, one can’t help it but scratch the itchy part. In the same way, our music is infectious. Once you listen to our music...you can’t help the fact that the song continues playing in your head. It is that impactful that you can’t ignore it.

What have been the highlights so far for Rash as a band?
Well it has been a long journey and we love the reception so far...we have made a record as one of the first Kenyan rock bands to release several singles in 1 year. We have had opportunities to perform on big platforms such as ‘March from the underground’ where we were the new kids in the block and alongside very good bands. We also did Rift Valley Festival as well as Rocktoberfest and many more just to mention a few...we have been featured on the rocker (severally)which is an article on Zuqka(Daily Nation) as well as the Nairobian. Our second single (LET IT BE ROCK) is currently enjoying airplay on X-FM and its doing well. Position 3 on top 10 for just released tracks 2014 and we going for Position 1. 

What challenges has the band met in the Kenyan rock industry?
They are quite a number, but the major ones are event organizers taking advantage of us because we are new. I mean someone exploits our potential to a few coins and they don't even pay us...we are talking about poor sound during shows but we still manage to pull it off because we really need to sell ourselves. Unity in the rock scene has been an issue but we hoping we (all rock bands) will come around and unite so that we can get better results....
Also, poor organisation of events has really been a big challenge for us because we are afraid to confirm for an event that is managed poorly. 

What can Kenyan rock fans expect from Rash in the months to come?
Music...more music and more music and definitely a music video...we are still discussing which song and most importantly live events where they will experience the real RASH

Where can Kenyan rock fans get your music, or go to here you play live?
They can get our music on SoundCloud. Now they can even get it on Mdundo. You can follow us on Facebook and our twitter handle is @rashband5. As for live events follow us on our social avenues above to be updated on our upcoming events but just to hint we will be playing at the battle of the bands new year’s eve concert that will be happening on the 1st of January 2015 from 8pm

Rash Band in Action
Any resolutions for the New Year?
We are praying and working towards releasing our first album and also videos as well as try to host a few events...keep it #TeamRASH2016 watch the space

How would you say Kenyan rock is fairing and what advice would you give to other up and coming Kenyan rock bands?
It has becoming better by the day but the market is still raw; it just needs persistent creative hardworking and talented lol...it is going to breakthrough...
As for the upcoming guys...they have to be ready to work and of course they should be talented. Also, they should not depend on bands that have at least established themselves to build them...be positive, strategic and have a plan...

Friday, 5 December 2014

SimpLy ToMas, Unique and DisTInct

If you are an avid Kenyan rock fan then you have no doubt heard the song ‘Tafadhali’ by M2o (Music 2 overdrive). There has been some confusion about M2O and Simply Tomas. However, the later has come out strongly to distinguish himself from his other band and create his own brand. His recent single, ‘Mpenzi’ is simply one step toward this goal. The writer of the hit ‘Tafadhali’ tells us more about who he is and his music.

How did it all begin for you as Simply Tomas? When did you start out?
Simply Tomas is a brand that just represents one individual. After my first band, M2O, took a break towards the end of 2010 I had to come up with something to continue with the work we had started. I toyed with the idea of putting together a new team but figured we may end up in the same situation. (Guys getting caught up in other stuff. Work, School etc.) therefore I decided to go it alone because I knew I would be in music for the long haul.

Simply Tomas, how did you pick this as a name?
Good question. I didn’t pick it. It picked me. After deciding to go it alone, I started playing with names trying to rebrand… I wasn’t comfortable at the time using my own personal name because I had always wanted to be behind scenes. I couldn’t find a name that fit so I remember thinking, “Why can’t I Simply brand myself Tomas” That statement led me to the name.

What inspires your music?
My music is inspired by tunes in my subconscious and around me. I almost always have a beat or bass line in my head. The tunes by their nature then inspire the subject matter of the lyrics.

What’s been the best part of working together with a band?
Well, as much as Simply Tomas is a solo artiste I always have a band when playing live. The current setup is that I have a dedicated drummer, bassist and keyboardist and they are all very talented. Working with a band is amazing because you share ideas, learn from each other and basically connect in ways that other people cant. We speak via our instruments and make music. To me, the random, inspiring, music creation process is the best part.

What challenges has Simply Tomas faced over the years?
Where do I start?! The challenges I have faced are numerous.

1. When we started out we had inexperienced producers because most were used to hip-hop/genge, so any song you’d try to produce was doomed to fail even before you started.
2. Starting out also we suffered from a lack of funds to buy good gear; so musical development was hindered and our live sound was wanting.
3. Untrustworthy and/or disorganized events’ organizers
4. Other commitments (work, school) makes bands stagnate because there’s no time to practice and play gigs.
5. No station would play our music till Xfm came to the scene.
6. Sponsors won’t be caught dead supporting a rock gig (so far). But it can change if we get our act right.
7. A zillion fans! – Always behind their computers – never at a gig
8. Of course, poor promotion of events contributes to point # 7 J
The list is endless...

Summarize the Kenyan rock Industry in 3 words.
Kenyan Rock Industry?

If you could, what is the one thing you would change about the Kenyan Rock Industry?
Industry involves the organized production, distribution, and sale of music in a variety of forms. This is not a definition that can be used accurately with local Rock. That said, if I were to help develop it, it would involve facilitating production, distribution and sale of music on a large organized scale.

Mpenzi was well received, getting air play from local radio. Is there more where that came from? Is there an album in the offing, perhaps a new single? What can Kenyan rock fans expect?
Thank you. Indeed there’s more but I am taking calculated steps to release songs, while at the same time learning from feedback I get from fans and critics alike. This learning process is what delays songs sometimes but I’ll soon get it right and release tracks more frequently.

Where can Kenyan rock fans get your music, or go to here you play live?
They can get downloads via www.simplytomas.com and view videos on my youtube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/SimplyTomasKE
I keep guys posted when I have shows through my social media pages: www.facebook.com/simplytomaske and www.twitter.com/simplytomaske



Thursday, 9 October 2014

As goOD aS IT gEtS

It was 1800 hours. The chosen site was club hypnotic off Woodvale grove. This is Westlands, redlight district with several notable clubs. The club itself was situated four floors up the Krishna Centre, easy to miss if you haven’t heard of it before. Everything but the stage is thinly lit up by blue light. I’d venture a shade but honestly I can’t tell the difference between periwinkle and navy blue to save my own life.
The concert was supposed to start at 4 pm but if there is one thing, you learn in this country, Kenyan time is very reliable at being unreliable. The music does not start until an hour later. All the while sound checks were on going. Kenyan rock band manages to site a few familiar acts. Claymore project are on stage checking their equipment. The few riffs they hammer out bare a lot of promise of what the night holds. Victor Chweya from PLG has a camera in hand nursing a white cup as we all wait for the concert.
Saidimu Kiereni will be the captain of this boat for the night. A vote of thanks is given and Saidimu introduces the night’s first act. A Kenyan Gospel rock band opens the show. And they are as good as it gets. Rock of ages have to be one of the country’s oldest rock acts. One of those responsible for turning on to Kenyan rock so long ago. They play their own rendition of Barlow Girl’s Never Alone. A bit of Creed and Daughtry follow in quick succession. People are officially paying attention and more is what they want.
Sugar, spice and Saki is made from rice
Saidimu’s own band takes the stage after Rock of ages. Dove Slimme needs no introduction. This popular Kenyan rock band was out to entertain, and entertain they did. Jilian, lead vocalist and resident diva knows how to work her crowd. With a mix of Swahili humor, Japanese pop culture references and wit, she kept everyone laughing all the while giving a great vocal showing.

jilian from dove slimme
True to their 90s kid roots, they kick off their performance with a rendition of the power puffs girl’s theme song. Nostalgic cheering and bashful attempts to sing along fill the club. They have us all under a cackling, half-drunk spell. Next, they play their rendition of Faint by LP and spin my head right round. 
Saving the best for last, they end their time on stage with three of their hit singles; Yelele, Party at the ban and Leo ni Leo. They also did Why you got to be that guy. They did not forget to play their version of the national anthem either. Underneath all that cool, deep inside there’s a bit of a patriot in all slimmeheads. At least that is what we are told am told.

Time has gone well past two hours and it is safe to say the concert had reached and passed its climax. Nothing but bravery was going to get the remaining acts through the rest of the night. Enter parkinglot grass. Led by their vocalist Duncan, PLG churn out a series of their compositions, from naweza, rainman, shimo mfukoni to kilio cha haki. Good music but crowds sometimes…
plg lead vocalist Duncan  

Lastly, Kenya’s own boy band, the claymore project takes the stage. Their preppy, clean cut look definitely makes them stand out. They ended the show with a mix of original songs as well as covers of famous pieces. The crowd sings along to harlequin girl, paper plane and wanderer. And that is as good as it gets. 
claymore project

The concert closes at 11.07 pm.
This deserved to be mentioned separately: Dove Slimme launched a video for ‘Leo ni Leo’ at the concert. If you missed this one, no worries. Sondeka fest is coming on 18th of October.