Owiny Sigoma Band: Love From London

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Owiny Sigoma Band are an Anglo-Kenyan seven piece group who, according to Gilles Peterson, make “fat wayward dance music with African leanings”.

Owiny Sigoma Band recently completed a short European tour, culminating in a phenomenal London date in an East London venue called Café Oto. About 200 fans were hypnotized by the traditional Luo rhythms along with the Kenyan native Nyatiti stringed instrument. The icing was served on the gig cake as Damon Albarn guested on a couple of tracks too.

Damon had previously worked with Jesse Hackett on his Africa Express project and is a strong supporter of Owiny Sigoma Band, a vote of confidence if one was needed!

A little background:

Hetty Hughes & Aaron Abraham are co-founders of a voluntary organization called Art Of Protest, set up to promote the local music of Kenya. Just over two years ago, they set up a project to invite London based musicians to visit Nairobi and share some musical ideas with some local musicians.

They got in touch with five young men who made their first trip to Nairobi in January 2009. They collaborated with two Kenyan musicians Joseph Nyamungo and Charles Owoko, exchanging and sharing their music and skills.

They decided to record four tracks in a disused factory, more to document their experiences than having any other goal in mind. The music made it’s way to music guru Gilles Peterson, who immediately signed the band on his forward thinking Brownswood imprint, and sent them back over to Kenya to record a full-length album.

So Jesse Hackett (keys), Louis Hackett (bass), Sam Lewis (guitar), Chris Morphitis (bouzouki/guitar) and Tom Skinner (drums) hopped back on a plane and spent another week recording their self titled debut album with Joseph and Charles alongside an extended family of local musicians.

Difficult to pick one track, so I’ll pick two and highly recommend you seek out the album. It’s one of the albums of the year for me.

Owiny Sigoma Band – ‘Wires’ by Brownswood

Owiny Sigoma Band – Tafsiri Sound 12″ by Brownswood

You can see their story below.

( Love From London is an ongoing series where correspondents Alex Kenning and Izzy Lawrence introduce us to bands generating excitement across the pond.)

— Alex Kenning