With members hailing from Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana, Malaysia, Italy and the UK, Kalakuta Millionaires is a truly global mix of musicians who draw on influences from jazz, funk, soul and world music.
Following live recordings for Mark Lamarr at BBC Maida Vale studios, the band has performed to thousands, headlining stages at Glastonbury Festival, Latitude Festival, Secret Garden Party, Waterford Spraoi, Sunrise Festival and many more.
Tanzanian/ Kenyan vocalist Siggi Mwasote has generated her own unique lyrical style, giving a fresh funk-soul twist to the traditional African aesthetic. Many of the lyrics are written in a mixture of Swahili and English and the unique female-led perspective is communicated passionately through the music. This is particularly reflected in their song Yansan, written about the fate of women and children in Charles Taylor’s Liberia, and Bata Boy, written about homophobia in the Afro-Caribbean music scene.
The band draw on a wide range of influences in their writing, taking the listener on a musical journey which references jazz, funk, soul and world music. A heavy underbelly of rhythm and bass underpins a horn section blistering with soul, whilst jazz-drenched guitar riffs merge seamlessly into highlife and funk. A truly polyrhythmic percussion section of four congas, percussion rack and hand held percussion brings in East and West African, Cuban and Brazilian influences.
The band cite their musical influences as The Lijadu Sisters, ESG, James Brown, Ernest Ranglin, Oscar Sulley, Fela Kuti and Orlando ‘Cachaito’ Lopez.
The word ‘kalakuta’ translates as ‘rascally’ in vocalist Siggi Mwasote’s mother tongue of Swahili. It is also a nod to Fela Kuti’s compound in Nigeria, the Kalakuta Republic, where the ethos was very much anti-establishment – as was the attitude towards music-making:
“Fela contended that AfroBeat was a modern form of danceable, African classical music with an urgent message for the planet’s denizens. Created out of a cross-breeding of Funk, Jazz, Salsa and Calypso with Juju, Highlife and African percussive patterns, it was to him a political weapon.” www.fela.net
… so the name Kalakuta Millionaires literally means ‘rascally rich’ – which can be interpreted as a political statement regarding globalisation, or simply that this renegade crew break all the rules with their wealth of musical styles.
Kalakuta Millionaires license their self-titled debut album to The Big Chill Label.
Ok there’s good news and then there’s stratospherically brilliant news and the signing of Kalakuta Millionaires to The Big Chill Label is up there with the stars. Rarely has a band been better suited to a label, Kalakuta Millionaires pretty much sum up the original spirit of The Big Chill, which was always about free creative expression and the mashing up of musical genres.
The band started out in the summer of 2008 and by 2009 had been invited to record a live session at BBC Maida Vale studio. Since then they have carved a reputation for themselves as one of the finest live acts to come out of the UK. The band’s line up consists of some of the finest Jazz, Latin, Funk and African musicians rocking these shores. They draw on a wide range of influences, inspired by giants like Fela Kuti, James Brown, Ernest Ranglin, Oscar Sulley and Orlando ‘Cachaito’ Lopez as well as the likes of The Lijadu Sisters and ESG. Tanzanian/Kenyan vocalist Siggi Mwasote has her own unique vocal style, giving a fresh funk-soul twist on the traditional Latino/African aesthetic. Combined with dubbed up bass and rhythms, a horn section blistering with soul, jazz-drenched guitars that melt into highlife, funk and one of the most polyrhythmic percussion sections this side of Lagos and you have one utterly irresistible musical proposition.
Kalakuta Millionaires have a strong belief that music has no enemies, borders or religion and strive to promote equality through music. This is reflected in songs like ‘Yansan’ written about the fate of women and children in Charles Taylor’s Liberia and ‘Bata Boy’ written to counter homophobia in the Afro-Caribbean music scene.
‘Kalakuta’ literally means ‘rascally’ in lead singer Siggi’s mother tongue Swahili. It is als a nod to Fela Kuti’s compound in Nigeria, the ‘Kalakuta Republic’ that had an anti-establishment ethos that also summed up fusion based approach to making music. So the Kalakuta Millionaires translates as ‘rascally rich’, which could be a political statement against globalization or the sensibility of a renegade Afro Orchestra drawing on a wealth of musical styles. Either way, following the limited initial self-release of previous recordings, which attracted plays on Radio 2 (via Mark Lamarr), 6 Music (via Craig Charles), Afrobase (totallyradio.com) and support from the likes of Russ Dewbury and 4Hero, the band are now ready for a global audience (with US partnerships in place). The first single is currently being remixed for release this summer with the album to follow just ahead of their UK and European tour. So prepare yourselves for the red hot Kalakuta Millionaires blazing away at a venue near you. Unstoppable.
Kalakuta Millionaires are a band rich in rhythm and loaded with attitude. They draw on a wide range of musical influences, inspired by musical giants such as Fela Kuti, James Brown, Ernest Ranglin, Oscar Sulley and Orlando ‘Cachaito’ Lopez, as well as hidden gems such as The Lijadu Sisters and ESG.
Following live recordings for BBC Maida Vale studios in 2009, they have carved out a reputation as one of the most dynamic live acts to come out of the UK. Drawing together some of the UK’s finest Jazz, Funk, African and Latin musicians, the band has performed to thousands of people and headlined stages at some of the best festivals and venues in the country. With airtime on BBC Radio 2 and BBC 6 Music, KM tunes have been played on Craig Charles’ Funk & Soul Show, Mark Lamarr’s God’s Jukebox, Russ Dewbury’s Jazz Rooms show and John Warr’s Afrobase show.
KM have a strong belief that music has no enemies, no borders and no religion, and passionately strive to promote equality through music. This is particularly reflected in their song Yansan, written about the fate of women and children in Charles Taylor’s Liberia, and Bata Boy, written about homophobia in the Afro-Caribbean music scene.
Tanzanian/ Kenyan vocalist Siggi Mwasote has generated her own unique lyrical style, giving a fresh funk-soul twist to the traditional Latino/ African aesthetic. A heavy underbelly of dubbed up rhythm and bass underpins a horn section blistering with soul, whilst jazz-drenched guitar riffs merge seamlessly into highlife and funk. All this, plus one of the most polyrhythmic percussion sections this side of Lagos!
The band’s debut album is out on global release via the Big Chill Label, and their second album is set for Spring 2014 in collaboration with renowned producer Nick Faber.
1. Kubadili 06:14
2. Feel Free 07:02
3. Ye Ye Minyoro 06:24
4. Agbadza 03:37
5. Akumpaye Too Bad 07:08
6. Funky Nassau 03:58
7. Water No Get Enemy 08:16
8. Olufeme 05:28
9. Para Cachaito 06:43