Dele Sosimi stands out as one of the most active musicians presently on the Afrobeat scene worldwide. Here he talks about duty to Afrobeat, relentless performances and his latest CD.
His tutor and guru was one of the world’s most feted and controversial music icon - Fela Kuti, also known as Fela Anikulapo Kuti or simply Fela - before his family, bandmates and friends and indeed the world was rocked by his passing on August 2, 1997, from Kaposi's sarcoma which was brought on by AIDS. Nonetheless, this loyalist, representative and artist - Bamidele Olatunbosun Sosimi, known as Dele Sosimi, from teenage keyboard player for Fela Kuti's Egypt 80 to bandleader for his son Femi Kuti's Positive ensemble, was tutored and raised in Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s shadow and worked and travel around extensively with Fela around the world at the pinnacle of early 70s Afrobeat fever. Picked by Fela to join his band at a somewhat tender age, he was still a young man when sharing Fela’s Glastonbury stage in 1984. But be that as it may, Dele Sosimi - born in Hackney, East London, raised in his native Nigeria from the age of four, refutes to slow down. He is here and now one of the leading forces/important voices of Afrobeat holding fort the Afrobeat music on the Afrobeat scene internationally.
After Fela’s passing in 1997, Dele went on to concentrate on his solo career and, with meticulous endurance, sliced out his own Afrobeat trophy in London, where he now dwells. Totally, this Nigerian-British boy is done admirably well. Sosimi has helped define the sound alongside some of its most iconic figures – he is an inspiration to many. Check this out: Vocalist? Tick. Keyboard player? Tick. Producer and Afrobeat giant? Tick. And the founder of his own orchestra? Tick. In addition more recently he was the Musical Director & Afrobeat Music Consultant for the award winning musical FELA! Currently on a global tour. And what’s more? Sosimi is an Afrobeat Composer, Producer, Musician, educator and instructor (via London School of Afrobeat) as a Visiting Lecturer at London Metropolitan University, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance - the UK's only conservatoire of music and contemporary dance and Cardiff University.
Once again an experience awaits with another marathon session (four-hour-non-stop) of keeping Afrobeat, the music, spirit & legacy of Fela Anikulapo Kuti alive in London at The Forge, Camden, UK
Saturday 28 November 2015. The Dele Sosimi Afrobeat Orchestra are a gang that must be seen live in all its astounding fierceness. Dele is returning to London for his third Album lunch gig ‘You No Fit Touch Am,’ a 7-track collection of compositions – his third solo album and his first for 10 years that is immersed in socio-political messages and showcase classic 1970s Lagos song writing. “You No Fit Touch Am” was recorded in London with a crew of long time players and producer Nostalgia 77 (Tru Thoughts) presenting a 21st century clarity to the mix. There's no silly compromises to the music here though, just a thoroughly modern sense of energy in the mix with an aptly heavyweight bass charisma.
Dele Sosimi: Afrobeat Vibration is my way of keeping Afrobeat music alive and accessible to Afrobeat music lovers and musicians in the UK bi-monthly, are creation of the spirit and ambiance of Fela's Afrika Shrine.
Why are you staging a four-hour-non-stop musical marathon? Why 4 hour non-stop and why the chosen venue? Can you really keep this up?
Dele Sosimi: I stage it because it is a duty that must be done by me as an ambassador of the genre and culture. It is an experience hence it is 4 hours nonstop as we take you on a journey based on the repertoire selection for the night. We initially used the New Empowering Church in Hackney till November 2014 when the lease expired. Since then we used the Forge in Camden once before moving to Shapes in Hackney Wick May 24th 2015. We chose Shapes because it had the ambience size and potential for a late license till 5am. The importance! People or musicians who did not have the opportunity to listen to live afrobeat now have a regular bi-monthly platform that we have kept going for 7 years - last Saturday of January, March, May, July, September and November which is usually the anniversary month. We cover a wide range of Felas Classics and original new compositions featuring a wide range of guests and young musicians who have either attended one of my Afrobeat masterclasses or workshops. This year we are celebrating the 7th year of keeping it going.
Could you reveal names of guest stars contributing to this extravaganza on Friday November 28th? And what should fans expect?
Dele Sosimi: We never know who will turn up until the night itself bit we have had Tony Allen, PA Fatai Rolling Dollar, Cheick Tidiane Seck, Afrikan Boy, Breis, Shingai, Byron Wallen, to name a few.
Fans should expect to be delightfully Afrobeaten up.
You have a new album out - third album -”You No Fit Touch Am”. Tell us more about this album - and why the title; "You No Fit Touch Am?"?
Dele Sosimi: Release earlier this year by WahWah45s on the 24th of May, the literal meaning is “You cannot touch it”. On a conceptual level "the thing is too cool", "too tasty to be messed with", "you can't even come close", "and it is beyond you". "The jam just baaad", "don't look at it with common eye" with regards to what I do, what we do, the experience we provide, the spirit of music. Identity my 2nd Album was released 10 years ago, and I had made up my mind the third Album would have to wait for the right conditions, right record label at the right time with an offering of a clear development of the Afrobeat idiom, an important restatement of what Afrobeat is about, in the current scene where the term is used quite indiscriminately (and unfortunately confused with the rather more superficial “Afrobeats”). I strongly believe this is now the case. Suffice to say its taken 10 years but once the record deal was in place from recording, production to release nine months as most of the songs had been written years ago.
What is your message here?
Dele Sosimi: It depends on which angle you look at it from. Spiritually be open, tolerant and aware, appreciative and humble. Musically, there is a jewel of infinity contained here that will most likely be missed by many, who lack the ability to see the greatness in small things. On the other hand, beauty will be discovered and found here by many. Mainly the message draws attention to the state of things worldwide today with songs like "Na My Turn" (Elections worldwide with special attention on so called democracy in Africa pre and post elections) ~ “E go betta” (Despite facing abject poverty the admirable spirit of resilience and resolve to carry on and soldier on with the song of hope for a better tomorrow)~ “We siddon we dey look” – (Ferguson incidents, Boko Haram, ISIS and most recently Xenophobia) “Where We Want Be” (The intolerance prevalent in world society with the message being bring love back BIG TIME!) “Sanctuary”- (In line with Fela’s “Music is the weapon of the future” message. In this case music being the Sanctuary where you recharge your batteries to keep on) and “You No Fit Touch Am” as earlier indicated.
What drives Dele Sosimi?
Dele Sosimi: Breath, life, love and family drives Dele.
Saturday 28 November 2015
Shapes, London, UK
Shapes, 117 Wallis rd. Hackney Wick E9 5LN
Cost of Tickets: £10 Adv. £12 Otd
Tuesday 09 February 2016
Kings Place, London, UK