Premiere: K15 & Labdi – Utokapo

In November 2019, eight artists from Kenya, Uganda and the UK spent a week in Nairobi together exploring new tangents in soul music. The group, collectively known as Extra Soul Perception – made up of Faizal Mostrixx (Ug), Hibotep (Ug), K15 (UK), Karun (Ke), Labdi (Ke), Lex Amor (UK), Lynda Dawn (UK) and Maxwell Owen (UK) – set about making an album that channeled their unique skills and musical heritage into new collaborations.

Before the album is released later this year, the group present five tracks in New Tangents…Vol. 1, traversing whispered RnB, deep and sacred odes to ancestors, chugging swahili rap, and low-slug boogie. The EP was toured round the UK in February this year, with music direction from Esa, and included a sold-out debut at The Jazz Café.

The third single from the EP is also its closer, penned by London producer and pianist K15 and Nairobi singer-songwriter Labdi. ‘Utokapo’, meaning “where you’re from” in swahili, explores the confusion of someone not being able to get a lover out of their mind, and inviting them into their lives “with an open mind and an open heart”, as Labdi recalls. The lyrics, sung in luo, accompany the oruto, a traditional single-stringed fiddle originating from the same West Kenyan community, which Labdi is the only women in Africa to play, defying a long-standing taboo. Combined with Kieron’s keys and his own take on the amen break, it’s a bold recontextualisation of a sound long-since guarded exclusively by men.

New Tangents in Kampala, London & Nairobi Vol.1 is out 3rd July. Pre-order on Bandcamp to receive an instant download of three tracks. With Bandcamp waiving their fees on Juneteenth, 100% of the label takings on 19th June will go towards a combination of charities in the UK, Kenya, Uganda and USA supporting black communities.

Before a documentary is released alongside the album, Director Angela Stephenson presents a series of short films introducing the ESP. artists, in partnership with Analogue Foundation. Watch the first with Karun below.

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