KONJO is a Pan-African creative research and cultural consultancy
Meaning ‘beautiful’ in Amharic, KONJO is born from a frustration with the limited exchange of knowledge and cultural collaboration across the African continent and our diaspora, and aims to centre ‘otherwise’ narratives through the beauty of creative productions that hold cross-cultural collaboration and cultural mobility at the core.
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Zara Julius is a social practice artist, cultural researcher, and vinyl selector based in Johannesburg, South Africa. She is also the founder of KONJO. With a background in anthropology, religious studies and photography, her work is concerned with the relationship between aesthetics, frequency and fugitivity. Working with sound, video, performance and object-based installation, Zara’s practice involves the collection, selection and creation of archives through extensive research projects. The bulk of Zara’s projects have focused on mapping the sonic and spiritual mobilities of spiritual rapture and rupture with congregants of syncretic religious practices in Africa and Latin America, and on (post)apartheid narratives around race and place as they pertain to intimate archiving practices. As a selector, she is especially interested in the evolution of spiritual music forms and how they find themselves in contemporary “global bass” music. Zara selects vinyl regularly on the festival circuit in Southern Africa, has toured London (being hosted by Touching Bass, Balamii radio, Hoxton FM, and Total Refreshment Centre) and has also gigged in Cuba and Colombia. Zara is passionate about creating and imagining conceptual, visual, sonic, interpersonal and political links throughout the Global South.
Adam Cooper / Foreigner
foreigner is an LA-based designer and DJ born in Trinidad & Tobago and raised in Caracas/ Venezuela & Brooklyn/NYC. Best known for his Junkyard Jouvert and Roadblock™ parties and his live DJ sets on NTS Radio and around the city, he focuses on drawing the most fun and unexpected connections between the Caribbean, West Africa and the Americas. This commitment to Panafrican philosophy has established foreigner as the creator of some of the wildest Afrodiasporic parties in Los Angeles.
Alsarah is a singer, songwriter, bandleader and a somewhat reluctant ethnomusicologist. Born in Khartoum, Sudan, she relocated to Yemen with her family before abruptly moving to the USA, finally feeling most at home in Brooklyn, NY where she has been residing since 2004. She is a self-proclaimed practitioner of East-African Retro-Pop music. Working on various projects, she has toured both nationally and internationally. With her main outfit, Alsarah & the Nubatones, she has released 2 full-length albums titled Silt , followed by Manara (Wonderwheel Recordings, 2014 and 2016). She has also released 1 full-length album with French electronic producer Débruit titled Aljawal (Soundways Recordings, 2013). Alsarah also works with the Sudanese artist collective Refugee Club Productions on a variety of projects including the critically acclaimed documentary “Beats of the Antonov”.
The BLK JKS are an internationally acclaimed award winning South African post rock band of a completely unique order. Formed in the early 2000’s, like the realization of a dream, with members hailing equally from the east and western townships of Johannesburg, namely Soweto and Spruitview, their destinies collided in the centre of the big bad African cosmopolitan district of Newtown in Johannesburg. BLK JKS’ electrifyingly curious charm and powerful live shows built them a global fan base. Their honesty and bold embrace of otherness captured the imaginations of music lovers and loyalists of multiple genres worldwide. On one hand it is easy to politicize BLK JKS, a band that is instantly young, black, and fly…as they reclaim styles that have been stolen, watered down, and regurgitated for generations. And yet to get caught up in anything but their sound is to sell this phenomenon short, because as musicians – as artists – BLK JKS simply cook.
Brenda Sisane started her career as a Public Relations Manager, and joined the broadcasting world as a radio and television broadcaster in 1991 which opened doors into the communications sector. She launched her PR consulting firm in 1995 subsequently diversifying her business to specialise in International Relations and the Creative Arts. She leads both SPIN Productions and The SPIN Foundation, which serve the local and international arts and culture marketing space. Her company has produced global collaborations for the International Jazz Day initiative by UNESCO, as well as the Herbie Hancock Institute for Jazz, who launched a worldwide jazz campaign for global unity and tolerance. Brenda currently hosts a radio show with a slant on Global Jazz, and Classical African music. To this unique program, she lends her passion in international relations, communications and social development.
DJ Jigüe / Isnay Rodríguez Agramonte
From an alternate future, Jigüe was sent on a mission to connect the two worlds. He traveled from the past to the present to bring his language: Tropical Afrofuturism. He erased the contours of normality through his style by mixing experimental electronic music that weaves traditional Afro Cuban, Caribbean, folkloric rhythms with mysterious and throbbing electronic rhythms. His name is Isnay Rodríguez, and everyone knows him as Dj Jigüe. In 2015 Jigüe founded Guampara Music, the first independent urban music producer in Cuba. He has produced several albums including Habana Cultura, Súbelo Cuba; produced together with the renowned Gilles Peterson. He has participated in several international festivals such as WOMEX (Katowice, Poland) 2017, ART BASEL (Miami, EU) 2017, SXSW (Austin, Texas) 2018, Bahiodora, (Mexico) 2018; Winter Music Conference (Miami, EU), 2019; DMZ Peace Train, (South Korea) 2019. Due to his performance, he has been represented in Vice Thump, The Fader, Vice, Red Bull Panámerika and Remezcla
DJ Mighty is a prolific vinyl collector and DJ with a very broad and creative selection – from House to Jazz to Funk to Afro. He has been spinning records for over a decade in clubs and at events. Mighty has played at some of Southern Africa’s most prominent music festivals, including the Bushfire Festival (Swaziland), Holi One Festival (Cape and Johannesburg), Red Bull Electronic Music Festival (Cape Town) and Rocking the Daisies (Western Cape). DJ Mighty only spins vinyl. His unique psychedelic and voodoo-like performances have been known to move crowds wherever he plays.
Dumama / Gugulethu Duma
Gugulethu Duma, also known as Dumama, is an artist, performer and sonic researcher born in South Africa. Her transdisciplinary practice involves consciously deconstructing and critiquing archaic modes of representation of Southern African/African sonic and performance culture. Ritualising modes of togetherness, Dumama is concerned with the ways in which new forms can organically emerge when collaborations can center in intimacy and openness.
K-$ is a DJ hailing from Cape Town’s lively Southern Suburbs. K-$ journey in music comes from having grown up learning to play various musical instruments and having a father who is a DJ. This selecta has a deep love for timeless soulful classics and is naturally drawn to the rhythms emerging from the golden years of RnB, Funk, Disco and Soul. The Soundtrack of yesteryears playboys, mac daddies, supalovers and other such masters of the universe, has influenced not only his sound, but his persona and his otherworldly aesthetic.
Kechou / Kerim Becker
Kerim Becker aka Kechou is a composer, multi-instrumentalist, writer, producer of Algerian German descent, who was raised in the buzz of Berlin by an Algerian musician and studio owner and a German early day feminist and writer. He has been studying African Music for a number of years, and has produced and performed with different jazz-infused hip hop and Afro-fusion experiments in Germany, and different parts of Africa. Building live loops, fusing organic acoustic hand-made instruments with electronic sounds, he creates hypnotic healing rhythms and grooves that hit the spot. He has written a multitude of songs with various stylistic influences, gained significant skills in music production, has a broad cultural knowledge around musics in Europe and Africa and plays multiple instruments (Guitar, Gumbri, Bass, Ukelele, Oud, Dingi Dingi, Dundun (Talking drum), Callabash (percussion), Asalato (shaker), Djembe, Conga, Synth, Chitende/Uhadi (musical bows), Mbira, Timbila and Voice. All these skills are subject to continuous work and growth.
Langelihle “Lady Day” Mthembu
Aspiring chef and DJ, Langelihle “Lady Day” Mthembu is currently on a personal journey of mastering every dish presented as a challenge to her. Having hosted several private gastronomy-centred food experiences, she believes in creating intimate social spaces using music and food. She pulls her influences from having lived in Johannesburg, Cape Town as well the rurals of KwaZulu Natal.
Bafo Madala Kunene was born in Mkhumbane (Cato Manor), a vibrant mixed community just outside of inner Durban. Commonly referred to as the king of the Zulu guitar, Kunene is often described as an mbaqanga or maskandi artist—something he personally hates. Kunene is an artist who is constantly shifting between musical habitats. He has no interest in genre specifications and prescriptions. Instead, his brand of blues operates in an opaque space where cool jazz, maskandi, mbaqanga, and a myriad of East Coast blues intersect.
Natalie Howard is a Havana-based Ghanaian-British radio journalist and translator specializing in Cuban affairs. Through her professional and personal life, she has gained a valuable insight into the island’s reality and important socio-economic transformations underway. Her linguistic skills and constantly expanding knowledge base have also enabled Natalie to serve as a cross-cultural facilitator: connecting English and Spanish speakers from around the world in meaningful exchanges with the island and its people. Natalie is dedicated to amplifying voices from the Global South within the frame of social justice work, knowledge sharing, and relationship building.
Nubya Garcia is a multi award-winning saxophonist and composer. Garcia studied under pianist Nikki Yeoh at Camden Music, before joining Gary Crosby’s Tomorrow’s Warriors in her late teens and completed her training at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music. She is a member of the experimental septet, Nerija, and has toured extensively internationally, playing in venues across Latin America, Asia, Europe, Australia, and the United States. Garcia’s reputation as a DJ is also burgeoning; she currently helms a hit radio residency on NTS and plays a growing number of live sets across Europe.
Oualid Khelifi is an arts producer, documentary filmmaker and communication strategist. He has worked extensively across the African continent, carrying multidisciplinary assignments in over two dozen countries, including his native Algeria. From fundraising and R&D to showcasing and digital dissemination, Oualid has produced and managed a series of international collaborative projects featuring African artists and counterparts in the UAE, the UK, the US and all the way to South East Asia and Latin America. As an artistic director, he has programmed for Sharjah Art Foundation (UAE), and curated and co-produced in collaboration with Marsm (UK) on festivals and masterclasses.
Shabaka Hutchings is a Barbados raised, London based, saxophonist. He fronts the MOBO award winning group Sons of Kemet and the Mercury Prize nominated group The Comet is Coming. He completed training in classical clarinet at the prestigious Guildhall School of Music in 2008 and has composed classical works performed by BBC concert Orchestra, London Sinfonietta and Ligeti Quartet. He has performed with many jazz masters including The Sun Ra Arkestra, Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra, Jack DeJohnette, Louis Moholo, Mulatu Astatke and King Sunny Ade. He began to play clarinet in the school band, and the calypso and soca music of Barbados’ Carnival not only provided Hutching’s first musical memories but informs Sons of Kemet’s kinetic intensity. Over the last half decade, Shabaka Hutchings has established himself as a central figure in the London jazz scene, which is enjoying its greatest creative renaissance since the breakthroughs of Joe Harriott and Evan Parker in the 1960s. Hutchings has a restlessly creative and refreshingly open-minded spirit, playing in a variety of groups, and embracing influences from the sounds of London’s diverse club culture, including house, grime, jungle, and dub.
The Brother Moves On
The Brother Moves On [abbreviated as TBMO] is a South African performance art ensemble from Johannesburg, Gauteng. The group was founded in 2009 officially by broad-based artist Nkululeko Mthembu and his brother Siyabonga Mthembu while watching an episode of the Wire by David Simon. The Brother’s sound is a tradition-trouncing trans-Atlantic Afro-centric futuristically ancient fusion that jack knifes between offworld spectral dub-metal, hyperrhythmic rock psychedelia, indie-township and astro-afro-free-jazz. Taking a cue from that other “Brother From Another Planet” Sun Ra they embrace a multi-genre, multimedia aesthetic, re-challenging hip-hop’s five pillars (MCing, DJing, B-boying and graffiti writing) into a conceptechnic performance art project that incorporates historical, political, and sociological perspectives”. Stacy Pan from the African Space Station.
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