Dumama & Kechou

In Conversation with Musicians Dumama & Kechou discussing their new duo that will be playing at the South African festival ‘Endless Daze 2018’

Image: Lara Simon

Dumama & Kechou are the duo creating unique sounds that incorporate electronic beats, live sampling, and traditional instrumentation from the African continent. Both talented artists with their own bustling solo careers, these two multi-talented musicians come together often for their unique Dumama & Kechou music project. Often starting with one specific concept when they perform live and then unravelling this with a combination of musical virtuosity and exceptional improvisation. 

Both based in Cape Town, South Africa, Dumama & Kechou’s music often holds insightful critiques on the history of music on the continent and seeks to capture the essence of what it means to decolonise music. The duo will be playing a set at this year’s edition of South African Endless Daze festival, which places a focus on psychedelic folk and rock music and is situated on the beautiful West coast of the country, just outside of Cape Town. 

Get tickets to Endless Daze 2018 here. Watch Dumama & Kechou perform their track ‘Amanzi’ below.

For those not familiar with the unique blend of sounds, genres and instrumentation that make up Dumama & Kechou, how would you describe your ‘sound’ in your own words?

Our sound is folk music of the future. We make instruments out of found sounds from the continent, and use technology and these grounded sounds as a means to express metaphors for our hybridity, reimagining a future that reflects past and present.

Which comes first when you are creating music together – the feeling or the sound? Perhaps something else altogether?

The feeling certainly comes first. Somehow, we have been able to improvise intuitively, helping our creative process a great deal. It is an easeful spiritual connection which has rooted our sound deeply.

You two recently started up an online fund in order to kickstart the recording of your debut release – when can we expect to listen to this exciting upcoming record? Which cogs are in motion?

We plan on recording the record in December, but unfortunately did not reach our goal. We would like to share it by September next year, but also have a single in the works at the moment for before then. Watch this space.
Dumama, you’ve recently been part of a fantastic residency with OneBeat Music 2018 in the US – tell us a bit more about that experience and the connections you made.

The OneBeat residency saw 24 musicians from 18 different countries coming together to make music and open up dialogues around music as a tool for healing and transformation. We spent some time incubating at a residency in New Smyrna Beach Florida, where we interpreted the 1977 Golden Voyager Record sent into space by NASA. This record was an attempt to connect with the rest of the universe, reflecting the times. So the group created music reflecting past / present / future, music that would best reflect earth to the rest of the universe and it was truly remarkable and highly immersive. We then went on to share our music and process with young artists, high scholars, elderly, community centres and art colleges around the East Coast. Our final stop was New York City. We had some phenomenal audio-visual experiences and masterclasses expanding our solutions to the social issues, and deepening the repertoires developed. The connections made will last many life times, and I now have a global music family of incredible change-makers.

How has the residency changed your musical journey – how will you be moving forward with everything you have learnt and experienced?

I just landed yesterday, and I think the changes are happening organically. It’s hard to say. I’m just as curious to see how my music practice changes. I can say that the approach to collaboration and composition has been evolved tremendously. I can also say that my thoughts and feelings for music as a tool for socio-political reflection and transformation have been strengthened and galvanized and as a group, we have developed projects around this.

Kechou, you’ve been working on a lot of wonderful music projects with an array of talented musicians – tell us about your experience of collaboration and songwriting, what is the best way to connect with someone, in order to make music?

I always find it most important to be very open minded about the process and the result of the collaboration when connecting to another person musically for the first time. In this process it doesn’t seem all too necessary to verbally go through every aspired or desired movement in the music, nor does it seem all too important to go through all the personal stories around childhood, family, artistic direction, traumas etc. although this can be comforting at times. (These talks can also turn into something overwhelming and rushed and therefore something uneasy and frustrating. The right time and space will allow for those kinds of conversations.) A little chat about where each of the participants stand in life and spirit right at the time before diving into creation usually sets the mood and establishes the necessary amount of trust. Ultimately every sonic collaboration aims at truly expressive and spiritually charged energy. The feeling needs to be right, people need to open up to let their souls speak rather than their rational minds. So as a host or partner in these spheres I need to stay open and connected to whoever I find myself working with.

Side note: perfectionism also never proved to be the best friend in all this. Every sound and movement is valid and important and should be treated as such. The fear of mistakes seems to be the greatest enemy of growth and honesty.

Any upcoming / unknown / emerging artists on both your radars that the world should know about?

– Umlilo aka Kwaai Diva
– Mel Mwevi
– Zolani Mfihlo

Let’s get technical for a moment – tell us a bit more about the gear and instruments that are crucial to the sound of Dumama & Kechou. 

We use a loop station, and a number of hand made bow and percussive instruments from around the continent. Kechou then also uses an electronic drum kit and synth, and I use a Roland voice distorter. 

You’ll be performing at Endless Daze festival this November – what are you most looking forward to about the festival?

We are looking forward to sharing our music and message with a new audience, and also connecting with some of the phenomenal acts who have inspired our journey along the way. 

Lastly, what exciting things can we expect from Dumama & Kechou in 2019? 

We have new music to share, a Euro Tour in the works, more collaborations with instrumentalists, dancers and theatre practitioners and many more surprises. 

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Follow Dumama:

Facebook // Soundcloud // Instagram // YouTube

Follow Kechou:

Website // Facebook // Soundcloud // Instagram // YouTube

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