Flaunt Premiere | KOKOKO!

by Morgan Vickery

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KOKOKO! is the DIY alternative music group from the Democratic Republic of Congo. While the French electronic artist, Débruit, was working in Kinshasa, he came across local musicians: Makara Bianko, Boms Bomolo, Dido Oweke, and Love Lokombe. Soon after, KOKOKO! was born.

Their electronic, transcendental sound, comes from the group’s percussive inventions and self-made string instruments constructed with recycled materials. In Africa’s third most populous city, they’re forging a new path in unison, repping the antithesis of tradition.

In yellow hazmat suits, KOKOKO! took the stage at SXSW 2019, gaining praise across the map. The vibrant on-stage energy included crowd participation and an infectious dance beat, shortly acclaiming notoriety for interactive performances.

Their latest single, ‘Buka Dansa,’ dropped as the group announced their debut album, ‘Fongola’ to release July 5th. Today, they share ‘Kitoko,’ the newest repertoire addition. Flaunt spoke with the innovative electro group dubbed KOKOKO! to discuss their inspiring journey and musical influences.

How did KOKOKO! come to be?

KOKOKO! was formed in Kinshasa in 2016 from the meeting of several artists: the instrument creators, Makara Bianko and Débruit. We all met, got together to play and record, and then performed at an improvised block party in the capital which inspired and motivated us to create the band.

Tell us about some of the self-constructed string instruments and percussive inventions.

We have a typewriter drum machine that can make three percussive sounds. A cassette player with a tape synthesizer that plays through a loud tweeter [speaker] and shower pipe to modulate sounds like an auto-tune ancestor. Some drums are made out of a ventilation system part, especially the kick. We check the tuning of all tonalities on our phones.

How does KOKOKO! hope to inspire and challenge the current music scene in the Democratic Republic of Congo?

KOKOKO! brings a totally different sound due to influences of each corner of the triangle that helped us to form the band. It’s not just the instruments, but also the voice and energy of Makara, and the electronics from Débruit. KOKOKO! hopes to influence Kinshasa, and the world; to turn the Congolese rumba peg and play with real energy.

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What are your most important musical influences?

We get inspired by all the different sounds of the city; Kinshasa is so loud, and with eyes closed, you can tell who is around you and how far. All the street sellers have their signature sound; the nail polish guy makes a rhythm with two tiny glass bottles, the elastic slapping of the egg seller, the wood board snaps of the shoe shiner, the megaphone loops which sell mobile credit, the crazy evangelic church blending with the club. We try to organize that chaos and make people move to it.

What’s next?

Lots of surprises. The latest album will be released soon followed by a worldwide tour and lots of live activities. Right now, we are working on a new stage design for our shows. We are working on some remixes, new music, and we also aim to film a huge project in Kinshasa. Stay tuned!