Next week AfroSync will be performing at the Safaricom Jazz Festival Nairobi Edition as curtain raisers and the Mombasa Edition will be Kenyan act Edward Parseen & the Different Faces Band. AfroSync consists of Zach Amunga, Tim Riungu, George Mutinda, Victor Muli, Mackinlay Mutsembi and Uledi Dzidze. AfroSync was formed in the year 2014 and they have scored gigs like US Independence day and German Reunification day 2015. They are working on an album that they intend to release soon.
How long have you all known each other? How did you meet?
The members of AfroSync have individually been active in the music industry for more than 15 years. We came to know each other individually at different times while working on various events and projects. However, Zach and Tim met as students in Nairobi School where they both played in the school’s brass band.
When did you form your band? What inspired you to make music together?
AfroSync was formed early in 2014. We initially got together for a regular Sunday evening jam session at a pub/grill called Crave. We developed a strong chemistry as a unit due to our common love of jazz, funk, Afro and Latin music styles. With the encouragement of the then-owner, Victor Owino, we decided to do more than that jam session and gradually developed a common sound and built quite a following, with zero advertising of the gig. It was entirely a word-of-mouth
Which instruments do you play?
Zach – piano/keyboard
Tim – sax
Mack – trumpet & trombone
George – drums
Uledi – bass
Victor – vocals
What genre of music do you consider your work to be? Who are your major influences?
Our music straddles traditional and contemporary jazz styles, Latin (“salsa”), Afro and soul. We are quite influenced by African, Cuban and American artistes of the period stretching from the 1950s to the1990s. These include Osibisa ,Tito Puente, Dizzy Gillespie, Oliver Nelson, Compay Segundo, Franco Luambo Makiadi, Fela Kuti and Hugh Masekela.
How would you describe your music to somebody who has never heard you play before?
Mature and classy yet fresh and invigorating.
What can people expect to see at your live performance?
Our audience can expect to experience tight rhythms and cross-rhythms, rich harmonies, toe-tapping and head-bobbing grooves. In short, a musical brotherhood delivering an uplifting entertainment experience second to none in East Africa.
Who writes your songs? What are the main themes or topics for most of your songs? Do you think these topics will change over time?
We each contribute to the development of our songs. They usually start off as an idea one guy gets and he communicates it to the group, and together we work at it and let the song unfold itself.
What has been your biggest challenge as a band? Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how?
Our biggest challenge has been managing our growth and marketing the brand to a wider audience. We are in the process of overcoming this through our management relationship with a professional arts administrator, Rahab Nderu.
What advice do you have for people who want to form a band?
A band has far more dynamics than a solo act. Find your common ground, build on it, identify complementary strengths, create an identity you believe in and market it well.
How do you handle mistakes during a performance?
The same way one handles driving over a pothole: smile and wave…and keep moving.
What advice would you give to beginners who are nervous?
Don’t be afraid of mistakes. Mistakes are good, they tell you where you need to polish up. Go for your dream and focus on the positive possibilities.
How often and for how long do you practice?
As a group, twice a week for two hours each session.
What do you think your biggest break or greatest opportunity has been so far in your musical career?
Being chosen to perform at the Safaricom International Jazz Festival has to be our largest platform in the almost two years of AfroSync’s existence. We have been very active below the radar at corporate and diplomatic events, as well as restaurant gig, but the SIJF takes us into a different league. For this, we are truly grateful and fully intend to make the most of this platform.
What keeps you going as a band?
Love for our craft and the interesting mix of personalities present in this band.
Where would you like to see yourself within the next five years as a band? What are your long term career goals?
Our desire, in the next five years, is to be recording and touring on the most prestigious jazz circuits worldwide, sharing a uniquely Kenyan sound to world audiences. At home we would like to mentor the next generation of musicians to take their craft seriously and make jazz more than a cottage industry in Kenya.
If you were to perform with anybody/group in the world, either dead, alive who would it be?
DRC’s Lokua Kanza, Cuba’s Roberto Fonseca
What are your up to date performance plans? New releases? Tours? News
Currently we have six regular weekly performances around Nairobi at various venues. We are also in the process of developing concepts for our first album. As for news, our singer, Victor Muli, recently re-joined us after a few months abroad. Although he won’t be on stage with us at the Safaricom International Jazz Festival, you can listen to his amazing vocals weekly at Slims, Dusit D2, Hotel Intercontinental, Pampa Churrascaria Brazilian steakhouse and the Explorer Tavern, Kilimani.
AfroSync will be curtain raising for the Safaricom Jazz Lounge Nairobi Edition on the 3rd of December at The Carnivore. To find out more about the Safaricom Jazz Lounge December Edition and how to get your tickets go to this link http://safaricomjazzfestival.co.ke/.