We haven't seen many bands emerge of late, then out comes a 7 piece all at once! Formed during the spring of 2008, but re-imagined in 2014, KIOKO are a group of sonically-synced musicians who basically want to blast your eardrums with their socially conscience, hook heavy brand of pop music, and have you loving it.You guys have a very unique sound, who would you say are your influences?
We have a very strong musical influence from a lot of reggae artists, from Bob Marley and the other originators of the genre, to the wave of reggae that came out of Britain in the 70's such as Steel Pulse, to our contemporaries like Fat Freddy's Drop. We also have a huge amount of respect and appreciation for artists with a strong social message, from Marvin Gaye to Bob Dylan.
One of the most unique things about you guys apart from your sound is the fact that you're a very multi-cultural band; would you say that has an influence on your unique sound?
Definitely, we all have eclectic and varying music tastes from our own heritages, and because of that we all bring different ingredients to the table. We all love to share new musical discoveries with each other that excite us, and we regularly have these little 'listening sessions' in our rehearsal space where we can do that. It's a lot of fun.
Tell us about the moment you all came together and officially became KIOKO?
We originally performed under another name, but after all coming back from studying at universities across the country (still coming back for the odd gig of course) we decided the band had turned a corner and that it was time for a rebirth. We settled on the name KIOKO just under a year ago and that was that!
There is seven of you guys, tell us what roles each of you play in the band?
Matt is our lead singer and rhythm guitarist, Ewan is the backing vocalist and plays trumpet, Jon is another vocalist and plays lead guitar, Loz and Josh round out the horn section on trumpet and trombone. Ben and Tom are the rhythm section playing bass and drums.
The 'True What They Say' EP was produced by the legendary British reggae icon Spider Johnson, who also happens to be your mentor, how did this relationship between KIOKO and Spider Johnson come about?
We were extraordinarily lucky in getting hooked up with Spider through the Roundhouse in London, an organisation for which he does a lot of work. They chose us to be a part of their '30 for 30' project which let us team up with Spider to record a track in one of their studios over a couple of days. That was several years ago now, and since then Spider has taken us under his wing, sharing his invaluable musical knowledge with us and helping to guide us through the industry to get our music out there to the people. He's incredibly generous with his time and there is no question KIOKO would be an entirely different animal entirely without his influence.
The video for the leading track off the EP "Deadly Roots" has a really interesting concept, almost made in the style of a documentary, what is the message behind the song?
The message behind 'Deadly Roots' is all about not judging a book by its cover. In society we still see a lot of prejudice and preconception over where a person comes from, not just geographically but socially too. We thought the documentary style stock footage would be a good way of bringing home the message that judging a person based on their heritage, gender, socially, financial position or any other reason before you know their story has been happening for decades and it still is.
Most of your songs seems to have a strong message behind it, who would you guys love to make some meaningful music with if you had the chance?
We're all a fan of Young Fathers; their experimental-style production and lyricism are on point but the message behind the music is powerful too.
You have had the chance to perform with the likes of Tinie Tempah and The Specials and now you guys are preparing to go on tour next month, what can we expect to hear from KIOKO?
Performing with Tinie Tempah was amazing, the show was sold out with thousands in the audience. We were wary about performing as we thought the crowd might dislike our music but they really enjoyed it. It was a great feeling coming off stage knowing we properly warmed the stage up for him. Most people from the Midlands love Reggae and Ska as the these genres did and still bring many communities together. In 2006 after the band formed This Is England was released and there was a rise in the Rude Boy and Skinhead subcultures - which we were all a part of. So when we got offered to support The Specials you can believe how exciting it was for us, we took a lot of influence in the early days so it was an experience warming the crowd up for them.
You can expect an energetic live show and even choreographed dance moves from our brass section. New material that you will be singing for days and a feel good vibe that invites everyone into the KIOKO mentality.
What else can we expect from KIOKO this year?
We have a few festival dates coming up over the summer, including Soundwave in Croatia which we're particularly excited for. We also have a show in London's legendary venue Birthdays, details TBC. In terms of releases, we're following up last year's E.P with a new release, slated for release in the tail end of summer at the moment. All details for our upcoming shows and information on the new E.P can be found on our social media sites, so stay tuned! Facebook: KiokoMusicUK Twitter:@KiokoMusicUKPic credit: SighTracked