Kakatsitsi & Samini

This proposal explores the idea of a collaboration between Samini, one of Ghana’s leading popular musicians, the Kakatsitsi Master Drummers from Ghana and one or more producers of western electronic dance music. It seeks to build on the success of Kakatsitsi’s electro-fusion work, most notably the performance on the West Holts Stage in fusion with The Orb @ Glastonbury Festival in 2013.

Background

The Kakatsitsi Drummers are a group of drummers from the wider Jamestown area of Accra, the capital of Ghana. Since 1996, they have toured the UK 14 times with performances at many of the UK’s leading festivals and multi-cultural arts venues, including 2 performances at WOMAD (BBC Stage 2015, Main Stage 2017), Shambala (main stage 2017) and many others. In doing so they have established themselves as one of Africa’s leading traditional drumming groups with a funky, trancey style that western audiences find accessible and enjoyable. Their lead drummer is Samuel ‘Injoly’ Addo, widely recognised as being one of Ghana’s leading traditional drummers with a funky, laid back style. They are managed by Indigenous People, a UK based tour management company with 25 years experience.

Mindful of the limited commercial appeal of their traditional music, Kakatsitsi and Indigenous People have sought to develop an electro-fusion project – sets and tracks combining traditional drums, acoustic instruments and traditional songs and chants with electronic beats, basslines, melodies and samples, so as to reach out to the much larger dance music market. Notably successes include the one-off performance with The Orb @ Glastonbury Festival in 2013 which was said by the BBC’s Lauren Laverne to be on the highlights of the entire festival. The fee for the set was £7.5k which was agreed without any negotiation. An Afro-house remix of one Kakatsitsi’s traditional songs, Ogbame, by London based producer Kay Suzukii aka Afro-Buddha, as well as an ‘Indigenous Remix‘ of Kay’s track by Kakatsitsi’s manager / producer Steve Peake, have received critical acclaim if modest sales.

Samini is one of Ghana’s most successful and respected popular musicians. Until now, he has released music within the reggae and Afro-dancehall genres, with considerable success. Having been introduced to the manager of Kakatsitsi Drummers by the director of the Ghana Music Awards (UK), Samini has expressed interest in working with the drummers and one or more producers of ‘western’ dance music to enable him to reach out beyond the domestic Ghanaian market to reach a wider international audience. He appreciates that adding a strong cultural element will assist with that process.

Current Plans

In order to develop the project, between Janurary and April 2021, Samini, some of the leading members of Kakatsitsi, Kakatsitsi’s manager / producer and Indigenous People director Steve Peake and a film crew provided by Samini will visit the upper Western region of Ghana, from where Samini originates. While there, they will meet with local traditional musicians, dancers, spiritual and cultural elders to explore Samini’s ancestral cultural and musical heritage. A 16 channel field recording studio and several high definition broadcast quality cameras will enable the team to gather resource material which will be taken back to Accra, where Samini and Kakatsitsi will work together between March and August to re-arrange the source material in a modern and contemporary manner. A number of traditional musicians playing local traditional drums and acoustic instruments from the Upper West Region, as well as traditional dancers, will be recruited to join the Kakatsitsi Drummers for the forthcoming tour and project. A part of this part of the production process will be to record the component parts of the collective drum patterns, along with the acoustic instruments and vocals. These parts will subsequently be available for remix by participating dance music producers.

By September, we aim to have a few tracks and videos with which to take the project to market, targetting either the UK / European festivals, clubs and multi-cultural arts venues or the North American market, or conceivably both. An album’s worth of finished material and accompanying promotional videos will be ready in sufficient time for release to accompany the proposed tour(s). It is also proposed that parallel to the electro-fusion set / tracks, we also produce a traditional acoustic album, insuring that both the dance music and the world music markets are covered.

As 2022 is the year of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, UK, it makes sense for us to target the UK as there will be considerable educational and performance work in the months preceding the games. As it will involve artists from the UK, urban and rural Ghana, the project will lend itself well to projects and funds with the theme of cross-cultural, international and modern-traditional collaboration as their focus. Indigenous People has extensive networks within the UK’s festival and venues sector and if the right dance music producer can be enrolled in the project we are confident of securing bookings for the set on the West Holts Stage @ Glastonbury, a major stage @ WOMAD, the main stage @ Shambala and at other leading UK festivals. With support from a booking agent with strong contacts in the Western European festivals, venues and clubs sector, we are confident that the project will sell well within these markets as well. Looking ahead, with the right support from a US dance music producer and booking agent, we envisage the project selling well in North American markets as well, with future touring possibilities to Japan and Australia / NZ seeming eminently possible.

Prospective Contribution from BBE Music

We are interested in working with a record company with relationships with respected producers of dance music who would be interested in participating in the project due to the opportunity to work with some of West Africa’s leading traditional and popular musicians. Ideally, the producer(s) would visit Ghana and accompany Samini & Kakatsitsi to the upper West region on the r&d trip. This would enable them to gain an appreciation of African rhythmic sensibilities and the wealth of rhythmic arrangements that exist within the traditional African realm that we are hoping can cross over into the western electronic domain. Such an arrangement, which would enable the African musicians to get to know their western counter-parts and most importantly vice-versa, would avoid the Africans being relegated to passive producers of content that is then remotely arranged by their western colleagues without their ongoing input. This is particularly importantly in relation to rhythmic arrangement where the Africans have a wealth of knowledge and expertise to which we are keen to give full exposure. These issues are explained in more detailed in the Creative Ethos and Production Values section of the Electro-fusion page on Indigenous People’s website.

We are also interested to reach out to documentary production companies in the US / UK with a view to producing a film of the project from its start in north West Ghana through to its performance on tour in the US / UK, exploring a variety of musical, social and cultural themes in the process.

Research and Development Stage, Ghana January – April 2010-21

Stage 1, 3 weeks in January 2021, Wa / Upper West Region

The party will consist of

  • Steven Peake, Director of Indigenous People (UK) and manager / producer of Kakatsitsi Drummers who will act as project manager and artistic co-director.

  • 4 members of Kakatsitsi

  • Samini, who will act as lead singer and artistic co-director.

  • 1 videographer provided by Samini.

  • 1 sound engineer to work with Steve on the sound recording dimension. (Samini SE)

Target outcomes for Stage 1 :

  • Research, record and film traditional music, dance and wider culture, history and folklore of the Upper West Region.

  • Compile a library of sounds and images of the wider social and natural environment in the Upper West.

  • Prepare video materials of raw traditional performances / ceremonies.

  • Conduct interviews with elders, chiefs, priests and others to explore the wider social and cultural context behind the project.

  • Recruit 4-6 leading local musicians and dancers who will form part of the eventual touring group.

  • Deliver 1 performance of some emerging material at the end of stage 1. This performance to be recorded and filmed for promotional purposes.

Stage 2, 6-8 weeks February / March 2021, Wa

Participants will include :

  • 4 members of Kakatsitsi

  • Steve Peake

  • Samini

  • Film Crew

  • Samini Sound Engineer (SE).

  • 4-6 musicians / dancers from the Upper West

Target Outcomes for Stage 2

  • Steve and Samini SE to record Samini, Kakatsitsi and UW traditional musicians for use by DMPs as well as an acoustic album.

  • Samini, Kakatsitsi and Upper West Musicians / Dancers to devise a neo-traditional set suitable for UK / European festivals & venues.
  • Steve & Samini SE to continue to edit raw audio material into useable loops, which will be emailed to DMPs to edit into tracks. These tracks will then be sent back to Ghana to enable the musicians to develop the live set.

  • Steve & Samini SE to produce ‘Ghana Remixes’ of the tracks.

  • Steve & Samini to design a live set, of both electro-fusion and acoustic material.

  • Kofi Adarkwah, Kakatsitsi lead dancer, to work with Upper West dancers to choreograph dances to accompany both sets.

  • Film Crew to edit promotional videos using material gathered in the UW as well as performance footage shot in Accra for subsequent promotional use as well as part 1 of documentary of project.