The Venus Bushfires

venus bushfires

The Venus Bushfires is a collective of one and many, of which Helen Parker-Jayne Isibor is the only constant member. The Nigerian-born musician, who moved to the UK when she was seven years old, is also renowned for her unique hair styles and the Swiss-made, PANArt instrument she plays called the Hang®. For me, Isibor’s eccentric style is reminiscent of Björk and Bat For Lashes.

Isibor harnesses influences from avant-garde, psychedelic, tribal and meditative arts, drawing inspiration from 70’s musical pioneers such as Fela Kuti. Exploring the ethereal sounds of the Hang, the power of the talking drum and the quirks of children’s toys Isibor mixes visual and musical styles. When she visited BBC Africa in London, Kenyan presenter Sophie Ikenye asked her how she first came to play the Hang (see video of interview above). Isibor is also influenced by spoken word, poetry, the body as a percussive instrument, exploring simultaneous and delayed multi-modal sensory experiences, social commentary, creative arts therapy, politics and human rights activism.

She has created music for Sony PlayStation and Disney and her songs have featured on French TV and documentary films. In 2008 she orchestrated the world’s first ever ‘hang flash gig’ which was broadcast on Channel 4.

You can stream and buy her album The Venus Bushfires EP here. I found the track “Last Winter’s Sparrow” particularly memorable.

Follow The Venus Bushfires at her official website, Tumblr, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter accounts.

Felix wins Audience Award at Durban International Film Festival


At the 34th Durban International Film Festival, audiences watching Felix laughed, cried and voted the feel-good South African family movie Best Film.The audience award was announced at Southern Africa’s premiere film festival on Saturday at the closing night event at the Suncoast CineCentre Cinema.

In Felix, 14-year-old Felix Xaba dreams of becoming a saxophonist like his late father, but his mother Lindiwe thinks jazz is the devil’s music. When Felix leaves his township friends to take up a scholarship for grade eight at an elitist private school, he defies his mother and turns to two aging members of his father’s old band to help him prepare for the school jazz concert.




A South African equivalent of Billy Elliott… a lovely, vibrant, feelgood film about a young township boy intent on following his dreams.

– Peter Machen, Festival manager


Felix‘s all-star cast includes Joburg-born Oscar-nominee Dame Janet Suzman in her first South African film; South African Film and Television Award (SAFTA) Best Actress winner Linda Sokhulu (Isidingo, Generations) in her feature debut; and newcomer Hlayani Junior Mabasa, who was cast in the title role from over 400 auditions across the country.

Felix was created by a predominantly female creative team, with SAFTA Lifetime Achievement winner Roberta Durrant directing; Natalie Haarhoff as the DOP; Shirley Johnston as the screenwriter; Kate Schalk as the line producer; Surisa Surisa as the art director; Ayesha Khatieb as the wardrobe stylist; Islyn Goliath as the hair and makeup artist; and Maryke Kruger as the editor.

This makes Felix the first South African film written, directed, shot, edited and line produced by women since democracy.



Ten Cities, is a global and culturally revelatory project that is documenting the social practice of going clubbing. It is the brainchild of Goethe-Institut Kenya in partnership with Adaptr and C/O Berlin. The project spans two continents, 10 countries and three disciplines (music, photography and writing).

The cities involved are Berlin, Bristol, Johannesburg, Cairo, Kiev, Lagos, Lisbon, Luanda, Nairobi and Naples. The criteria set down by the project: cities with highly developed club cultures with outstanding musicians, cities with specific local forms of music and characteristics in terms of urban development, or home to well established subcultures and subaltern public spheres and voices. About 50 DJs, producers and musicians are teamed up therefore enabling them to produce music together and exchange their knowledge about the club scenes in their countries.

The European guys are not teaching anything to the African colleagues. That would be ridiculous. The bridges are built by producing music together. The symmetrical and equal exchange is crucial here. — Johannes Hossfeld, Director of Goethe Institut Kenya

As a culture, clubbing is one of the most dynamic cultural forms worldwide with regards to space and the public sphere. It is also a space for experimenting with identities and lifestyles. Musicians today keep in touch with global pop culture viathe Internet which in turn, inspires local creativity and finds its way back into the Western world. However this Eurocentric attitude, often leads to a lack in both the appreciation of the African cultures within which all western styles of club music have their roots, and in the physical exchange between musicians and activists between the two continents. The Ten Cities project answers these concerns through a combination of music production, photography, and interdisciplinary research.


TEN CITIES Luanda – DJeff, DJSatelite, LucioAquilina, MarcoMessina


TEN CITIES Luanda – Concert Luanda


TEN CITIES Luanda – MC Sacerdote

A research project comprising of 23 researchers will use the perspective of club cultures to explore and investigate the term of the public sphere. They will work on essays and studies about those partly unknown music scenes and their sub cultures; ten photographers will capture the same on an artistic level.

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MoCADA | The Journey Home


The Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA) cordially invites you to be part of The Journey Home 2nd Edition, a cultural journey to Kenya. Featuring special musical performances, intimate film screenings, art exhibitions, and exciting cultural events, it will be a unique opportunity to experience the art, culture, and beauty of Kenya, East Africa.

The Journey Home will take place from Friday, August 30th, 2013 through Sunday, September 8th, 2013.

Price includes airfare from NYC, lodging, entertainment, and 2 meals per day. The cost of the trip does not include passport fees, visa, vaccinations, travel insurance, or excess luggage. Learn more about the application and the trip here.

Kenya Special: Selected East African Recordings from the 1970s & 80s


We love the graphic style of Kenya Special: Selected East African Recordings from the 1970s and 80s which is the latest release from Soundway Records. Soundway continues their Africa ‘Special’ series with this new release.

Spread out over two CDs and one triple LP, Kenya Special is accompanied by detailed liner notes, original artwork and photographs. It reveals a treasure-trove of rare and unusual recordings from East Africa by exploring Kikuyu ‘liquid soul,’ Swahili afrobeat, to genre-bending Congolese and Tanzanian tracks recorded in Nairobi.

African Eagles band

African Eagles band

The musical landscape of 1970s Kenya was dominated by two threads of music styles – Kenyan benga and Afro-cuban rumba, which came to be interpreted by Congolese artists through visiting bands, many of whom eventually settled in the area. Benga quickly became Kenya’s unique contribution to afro-pop; with it’s 4/4 beat and intricate electric guitar layers.

This release follows on from Soundway’s ‘Africa Special’ series that has focused on the afrobeat output from 1970s Nigeria (Tunji Oyelana: A Nigerian Retrospective 1966 – 79) and Ghana (Ghana Special: Modern Highlife, Afro Sounds & Ghanaian Blues 1968 – 1981).


Ghana Special: Modern Highlife, Afro Sounds & Ghanaian Blues 1968 – 1981


Tunji Oyelana: A Nigerian Retrospective 1966 – 79

Kenya Special is a collection of 32 recordings (most of which were only released on small-run 45rpm 7″ singles) that stand out as being different or unique as well as some classic genre standards. Many of the tracks featured here are peppered with innovation and experimentation highlighting how diverse the music scene in Kenya was at the time.

Painstakingly compiled, assembled and researched over two years by a team of five people from five countries (Kenya included), Kenya Special is a collection that looks beyond the mainstream and brings new life and recognition to some little known gems and forgotten classics of Kenya’s past. Ciné Kenya previously posted about Swahili Rumba when Just A Band released a rendition of Issa Juma’s song ‘Matatizo’ here.

Kenya Special: Selected East African Recordings from the 1970s and ’80s is out on April 28th (or May 20th, for vinyl). You can pre-order here.

Found this fantastic release thanks to our friends over at okayafrica.

Twende Berlin: Documentary About Gentrification in Berlin Told Through Eyes of Kenyan Hip Hop Musicians

Upendo Hero as seen at CinemAfrica Sweden Film Festival

Twende Berlin is a documentary about urban spaces and our relationship to them as told through the eyes of a troupe of African hip-hop artists ‘Ukoo Flani‘ on their adventure through Berlin and is produced by African based filmmakers. The film is produced by Cultural Video Foundation (CVF) in collaboration with Urban Mirror. German musicians The Teichmann Brothers and a host of other German musicians are also involved.
After the success of Maskaniflani, an award-winning participatory documentary and music video about public art and public space in Kenya, the hiphop group ‘Ukoo Flani’ started to develop different projects to explore the urban space that they inhabit, using music and art. The group, is composed of 6 members and Upendo Hero (the love hero, pictured above with a love-heart in place of a head) a mysterious character invented by Ukoo Flani to spread the message of love for public space. The social issue which underpins the documentary is the importance of public space and public art in contemporary society, and how and why western metropolises are affected by the emerging phenomenon of “gentrification”.


In ‘ Twende Berlin’  which screened at CinemAfrica Sweden, Ukoo Flani and Upendo Hero discover how artists and the so-called “creative class” become unwitting pawns in the shifting fortunes of Berlin neighbourhoods. Seeking out low-rent areas they move in and shift the demographic and profile of that space. This acts as a catalyst, increasing property values which can then often mean that the original inhabitants of these neighbourhoods can no longer afford to live there. Whilst these neighbourhoods were not necessarily always cohesive communities, often, and particularly in Berlin, they are. The city is, undeniably losing something. And this is what Ukoo Flani and Upendo hero try to find out.

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Just A Band Inspired by Victims of Nyayo House Torture.


Kenyan musicians Just A Band released their first music video for the song ‘Matatizo’ from their latest album Sorry For The Delay.

Just A Band‘s video is inspired by those who perished and survived the Nyayo House torture and detention chambers that were in use during Daniel arap Moi’s period as president. Find out more about that here (PDF).

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Chichi Seii’s Swahili Rock

chichi seii

Former Citizen television host Chichi Seii has released her first video. The music video is for her song “Get On It” which was filmed in Chicago, USA. It is simple, but the graphics presented create visual interest by using a stereoscopy effect and is reminiscent of Rihanna’s music video for “Rude Boy.


Last Year’s Tragedy: Kenya’s First Metalcore Band


Last Year’s Tragedy is a band from Nairobi. They met in university and were brought together by their common musical interests. They are yet to release an album but have been producing a steady stream of popular singles. Listen to there songs at their Bandcamp site.

“Generation Light” is a plea for peace and sanity. It is inspired by the bursts of post-election violence Kenya endured in 2008 due to the presidential elections. The song calls on our generation to ” reject the petty conflict and cycles of revenge of our parents’ generation.” It’s a powerful and brutal track with brief windows of melody.

Exclusive: On Making Pegasus Warning Music Video

Exclusive: On Making Pegasus Warning Music VideoCapture10

Kenyan artist Wangechi Mutu talks to OkayAfrica about artistic directing band Pegasus Warning’s sensual music video ‘Try so Hard’.

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