The deep hypnotic indigenous afro-house grooves filled Goethe Institut one Friday evening in 2016 during the ‘A Night of Equatorial House’, an event that proved sufficient enough to be a vehicle to a musically trance laden spiritual realm. Vincent Libosso explores the mark Equatorial House Music is leaving in Nairobi and transcending to the rest of the world!
What is Equatorial House music? Perhaps, that is the perfect place to start. This new sound from Nairobi is redefining Africa. It is that music that tickles your toes, making you want to dance. It soothes the soul—a perfect vehicle to a musically trance laden spiritual realm. It brings an energy like no other in this buzzing city. And now Kampala is set to be moved with this music in a few weeks’ time.
When the originator of Equatorial House, DJ/Producer/ Artist, Saint Evo first came up with this music after coming back from studying in South Africa, never would anyone have foreseen the rise of this East African savanna music to its current form as witnessed during the concert. When I first met Saint Evo at a gig way back last year at a cool club called Tree House, little did I know he would in turn convert me to this new sound.
In the past few years, the young sound from Nairobi has managed to travel beyond boundaries: not just entertaining listeners, winning new acts and creating worldwide conversations, but also creating a sense of pride.
“We are not there yet,” Saint Evo would tell us in an exclusive interview with wgNetworks. “But, slowly but surely, we are seeing this genre being appreciated.”
Africa’s music timeline is one that is full of diverse and that is what makes the continental sound such a great listen to the eardrums. Perhaps even the reason why the continental sound is taking over the world with the likes of Wizkid and Davido. First there was music from the Congo, with rhumba spearheading the music scene in Africa, then came mousse from Cameroon, kwaito from South Africa, the Ghanaians had Highlife and the Naija (Nigerians) had afrobeats, the Tanzanians made us fall in love with the soothing Taarab influenced Bongo Music – and now, Equatorial House from Kenya is here!
“Njeru is my second name and among my people, the Embu, it means ‘New.’ As my first album “Jeru”, it represents a new dawn and reveals a new side of me. People know Saint Evo as the guy behind the decks in the party or on production in the studios, but now I want to give them the artistic side of me.”
UP Magazine, a popular Lifestyle brand in Kenya terms Saint as: “There comes a time when the city needs a new and refreshing sound. Residents tire of listening to imported tracks from Europe, Nigeria and the Americas. It may sound like the beginning of V for Vendetta but we need to be rescued from bad music. Enter Saint Evo the Myth, and you get an Equatorial House tune that will get you grooving.”
Always seeking to tell a narrative with his own musical productions as well as playlists, Evo is never shy to go deep or vibrant. Over the past couple of week he has been doing a series of the collaborations he has featured on his new album and letting fans of the genre experience a new wave of artists championing this sound. Having grown up listening to Hip-Hop, Reggae, Ragamuffin and Afrobeats, Evo ended up with a diverse musical influence. As such, his sets are characterized by a predominant drumbeat infused with a variety of organic indigenous sounds and vocal hooks that hail from Southern Africa, Central Africa and his own homeland, East Africa.
The concert was no different at all. Featuring live performances by some of Kenya’s prolific artists ( Inami, Marcus Ezra, Tetu Shani and HK Gachago) that he has recently collaborated with, showcasing exclusive tracks from his long awaited debut album, JERU as well as his recent and earlier releases and remixes, Evo and friends literally brought the house down.
This concert was part of a series of events organized in cooperation between Music In Africa and Goethe-Institut Kenya. Music In Africa is an information and exchange web portal dedicated to the African music sector. It also aims to contribute towards improved collaboration among artists on an international level, as well as to enhance awareness of African music scenes.
And now, Kenya is waking up to Equatorial House secrets: it’s accessible on so many different levels and yet it is paving way for new solo acts to take it to the next level’s world stage, but at its core it’s just irresistible music. The vibrancy, energy and richness of our East African cultures in this young sound waving through the world.
Kampala you have no idea what is coming your way.