Femi Koya, African Jazz Renaissance:
Femi Koya is at the front of the African renaissance of local jazz, combining afrobeat and jazz and West African highlife with a nostalgic Sophiatown flavour, his music is a rich blend of deep and sultry jazz and contemporary groove.
When we got the chance to speak to the new face of this industry revolutionary, we couldn’t pass it up! We sat down with Femi and chatted about a few things, style, music, environment and the coming of his next big festival at Mielie Pop Festival 2017, this is what we found:
Devan Lowery [DL]: Being a saxophonist and a vocalist if a song had the need for an intricate saxophone piece and overlaying vocals, what do you grab first the sax or a mic?
Femi Koya [FK]: I will grab the Sax first because the sax will ease and smoothen the way for the vocals, it has always been the sax before vocals
DL: A saxophone is notoriously hard to hold never mind to play, what was it that got you past that initial awkward learning phase and on the road to true musicianship?
FK: When the Saxophone calls for you, everything else will bow. I was a soccer player before music arrested me 15 years ago and i started learning the art of music.
Without the Saxophone or music,my life is incomplete and when music hunts you and you want it back as hard, you will go extra mile to make it happen, the hunger to make great music like Fela Kuti, Bob Marley, Manudibango, Hugh Masekela just to name a few was what got me past the initial awkward learning phase.
DL: If aspiring musicians would like to become more entwined in the Jazz scene what are some of the venues/studios and areas that you would suggest to experience this music at its core?
FK: There are really cool jazz venues around South Africa, would like not mention names as i may mention some and leave out others who may think they are been undermined but yeah, for now, the best Jazz Club that i know of is The Orbit Jazz Club in Braamfontien Johannesburg.
People are really free to open their mind and body for music to take them to the outer space…
DL: Performing at Mieliepop will obviously bring with it all the crazy antics that festivals bring, that being said what do you like about festivals as opposed to club/stadium shows?
FK: With Festival, People are really free to open their mind and body for music to take them to the outer space, Festival people come out with everything in them to enjoy every moment and artistry that Mieliepop is offering, my music is a fusion of West African and South African sounds which will come fresh to the people so i am in anticipation to exchange energy and have great fun with the Mieliepop Festival people.
DL: Working with the Soweto gospel choir, how did that come about and how did you find the dynamic in studio with so many other musicians?
FK: As a born Nigerian, South African based Musician, known as the new face of the African Renaissance, working with Soweto Gospel choir on my song “Africa Unite” was to echo the dreams and agenda of the great African leaders which is for Africans, black and white to Unite as one people to create a better Africa. SG choir was just perfect for such Africanism because they share the same dream.
DL: It seems like you’ve really been in the industry for a while, will this be your first Mielie Pop? What can your fans expect?
FK: Yes, i have been in the industry for a while sinking my roots down the soil so that when i start growing, no wind nor flood will take me down,this will be my first appearance at Mieliepop, Mielie is not aware what’s hitting their stage 2017, Femi Koya is bringing you Hot Afrobeat Chilli, West African style. i will have my Nine piece band on stage to make you shake your body, we will have fun!
DL: Where can we can get our hands on your music and support your talent?
FK: My music is on all digital music stores worldwide,will have physical Cds at the Mieliepop and you can get in touch and order Cds@femikoyamusic on all social media or www.femikoya.com!
Check out Femi Koya and a huge line up of South Africa’s best music talent at this year’s Mielie Pop Festival!