Following the release of the debut EP, we talk to Kioko about their new inspirational music video 'Deadly Roots,' their reggae influences, festival season, and brass instruments!
Your band has lots of brass instruments- you yourself play trumpet in the band right? That’s stands out quite a lot in the current music scene- For those not really expecting it, how do they respond to it?
They’re kind of just intrigued by the instruments. They’ll probably call the trumpet a saxophone or they’ll call a trombone a trumpet. That’s a small matter, but its nice to see people excited by certain instruments and seeing them played in certain kinds of music. It adds to the music. Especially live, it gives it that live feel.
How do you feel reggae fits into the current music scene, as it’s not a very commercial genre anymore. Are you bringing it back?
I hope so. I think reggae music has kind of lacked a lot of radio presence in the past 20 years. Even though you’ve got people like Sean Paul who are coming over, there needs to be some more music like bands like The Skints, who are doing really great music and championing reggae and bringing it to the UK radio.
So are these bands your influences too?
Yeah we’re definitely influenced by anyone on the scene, if you listen to the music enough its going to rub off, but bands that heavily influence KIOKO is kind of a tough question as everyone in the band has such different tastes, and have grown up with completely different backgrounds. The sound that KIOKO make is different to other reggae bands. It’s not strictly reggae, not strictly ska, its not strictly pop music, it’s kind of an amalgamation of several different things.
And you’re based in Birmingham right? What’s the Birmingham music scene look like? Is there a big reggae scene?
Yeah there’s a big one in Birmingham. Once you know a few people, you start to find you know everyone in music. Its nice because it’s a big city but also a small city because everyone knows each other.
So you just released your debut music video ‘Deadly Roots’- What’s the reception been for that?
It’s been really good. Some people have been moaning about the fact we’re not in the video, but the point was that we wanted to make it about the topic and make it about integration in the UK, and how you know UK has completely changed and what would it be without the wind rush coming over, and everyone from the West Indies- Indian people, Pakistani people. We wanted to say exactly how it is with the music video. That people have struggled and people have got certain roots, and dont question people because you don’t know their family and they’ve been through certain things. Having documentary footage that people have probably never seen is more effective than having us in a generic video.
So is this the message behind your music? Even on your social media the band talks a lot about societal issues.
We don’t want to be too political or too outspoken, because nothing’s worse than people trying to constantly throw something down your throat, but at the same time our songs are heavily influenced by pop music and we love writing songs that people can dance to and have proper big choruses, and classic pop sounding songs. But at the same time having a message is important, you can’t just have songs that constantly are talking about ‘that girl’ or something.
Do you feel different now that you have a music video? Do you feel more ‘official’?
I think we’ll feel more official after a couple more videos! But it always feels official- we don’t do music just to get views and stuff like that. We’re constantly trying to think of ways to build online awareness and online audience is important but I think once we get the festival season over and we meet loads of people through that, and got more fans that way. I think it’s all about live, but when we get a couple more videos from the EP and we get our next EP out there, that is what I'm most excited about.
And you mentioned festival season- are you playing any this summer?
We did the Funk And Soul festival, which was really cool, because they had a really really good line up for that festival, like The Sugar Hill gang playing. And we’re also doing Soundwave in Croatia, on the 6th of August. And we’ve also got a couple of BBC introducing stages we’re doing but we haven’t been told yet.
How did you get involved with BBC introducing?
The guys in West Midlands have always been playing our songs, since we were called Tempting Rosie, before when we were kids, because we’ve been playing since we were kids, and we were playing as Tempting Rosie until August last year. And since we’ve turned and rethought things and came back as Kioko, they decided to forward our songs onto Radio 1. Huw Stephens picked up our track ‘Deadly Roots’ and really liked it- he said everyone in the office was dancing to it apparently. Then Huw Morgan picked it up on Radio 2, and then we got a whole week of plays on BBC 1Xtra.
Cool and what’s next for you guys then?
I think next is to gig as much as we can before the UK tour.
Yeah I was just about to ask, doing a tour or anything?
Yeah nothing’s been 100% booked in just yet, but we’re going to be touring at the end of the year we’re sure, we’re going to have this second EP out September time- though nothings been confirmed yet, I'm just kind of guessing here.
So you’ve recorded it then?
We have enough songs for a second EP definitely, about 5-6 songs recorded, but we want to get a couple more recorded so we can get the next two EPs, or just pick the songs that really fit this release, which is quite different from our last. Then, we had just kind of recorded 4 tracks and thought we need to get this out as soon as possible, as we take along time over our songs as we’re kind of perfectionists, and before you know it time is gone.
So would you recommend to aspiring musicians to not be perfectionist?
Yeah don’t be perfectionist. If you’re not happy with a vocal take or whatever it doesn’t matter, especially with EPs, if someone’s going to pick them up like a label, then they’re probably going to record it again anyway.
Are you in any talks with any labels?
People have come to see us, we had Universal and Virgin come to see us at our last gig which was really exciting, and we’ve got another gig at Birthdays on Tuesday 28th of July. And we’ve got a few labels coming down to that. But I think we’re just trying to be as good as we can, write the best songs we can write, and then yeah fingers crossed someone will get us to do an album, that’s the dream really.
Thanks, I think that’s about it! But lastly could you also give a shoutout to my girl Catherine Brinkworth, cuz she loves you guys.
Hello Catherine how are you doing!!