OTHER SIDE OF THE TRACKS Artist Q&A with Kakatsitsi
Kakatsitsi are a group of traditional drummers, dancers and singers from the Ga tribe of Southern Ghana. Since 1996, Kakatsitsi have toured the UK 12 times, working with a wide variety of festivals, arts centres and local authorities. The recent addition of a strong dance element, to complement the already outstanding drumming and singing components, has established Kakatsitsi as the leading African traditional group in the UK, with the leading Ga singers, drummers and dancers among their number. Seen live, they show culture as it is meant to be celebrated, breaking down the barriers between audience and performers by encouraging the active participation of the people in the celebration, whether on the drums, chanting or dancing.
Ahead of their performance at Hotter than July this Sunday 28th July, Steve from the group told us a little bit about Kakatsitsi - how they mix together drums of varying Ghanaian tribes, influences of electronic dance music, learning to become a master drummer, and finding an intimate connection with the audience, similar to the connection between people in authenitc settings for these kinds of drumming.
Q. Can you tell us a little bit about your style of drumming?
Kakatsitsi have their own unique style of drumming that is different from most other West African groups. They play a wider variety of drums than are played by groups from such countries as Guinea, Senegal and Gambia for whom the Djembe is the main drum but instead play drums such as the Kpanlogo, Gome, Atumpani, Sogo, Canga, Oslama and many other drums used by the various tribes of Ghana, each of whom have their own strong drumming traditions. Kakatsitsi also have a much funkier, groovier style that is influenced by the western electronic dance music of their UK manager / producer than other groups for whom the drumming is usually an accompaniment to a dance performance.
Q. How do people learn this kind of music? Is it different from other traditions and cultures of learning?
Most people learn by joining a local ‘cultural group’ in a community at a young age and study with a more senior drummer until they themselves graduate to becoming a senior master drummer. In the poorer areas of Accra, Ghana, such cultural groups are common. In Ghana there are no family lineages such as the Griots of Senegal / Mali.
Q. Ideally, how would you like the audience to experience your music?
Kakatsitsi’s music is best experienced in smaller, more intimate venues with plenty of room for people to dance as the group play better when people are moving to their music. Analogue mixing desks are much preferred to digital ones due to the warmth of the sound but best of all is when the drummers are playing completely un-amplified with people either sitting or dancing around them, similar to how drumming and dancing would be experienced in the authentic traditional setting.
Don't forget to come along to Smithfield Square this Sunday 28th July, for great world music, food and interactive workshops from 3-9pm, with Kakatsitsi performing at 5:00PM!
Listen to some of Kakatsitsi's music below!