Ten Cities - Goethe-Institut

Ten Cities - Goethe-Institut

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Whether it's in Nairobi or in Kyiv, in Bristol or in Cairo: in all the major cities of Africa and Europe, people get together in dedicated spaces to dance to music and party – and create communities, subcultures and public spheres. Club culture is a global phenomenon, but what music are these people dancing to in these cities and what music did they use to dance to in the past? In what sort of spaces do they meet up? What public spheres do they form? What do these club cultures mean to the urbanity of a city? And what happens when the club music from two different continents meet head on? More...


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© Alai K

I was born in Mombasa, in the coastal side of Kenya, and raised in a Swahili cultural environment. The Kenyan coast is a special and unique area where different people and cultures come together, like Arabs, Indians and Bantu-Africans. Through exchange between these cultures the Swahili culture emerged. From an early age on I went to Muslim school where I was a lead singer in Qaswida. That environment led me to who I am right now and my way of singing. My music is a fusion of Mijkenda (the nine tribes living at the Kenyan coast), Taarab, Arab, Swahili and Sengenya music. By combining and merging the chevoti (Mijkenda flute), chakacha (Swahili percussion) and a Qaswida influenced style of singing I create my own style which I call SwahiliSoul. My songs feature Swahili poetry and storytelling to present the traditional sayings and proverbs in a new and modern shape, to ensure they will not be forgotten. I am about to finish my first solo album where I incorporate more styles and instruments, like the Brazilian Berimbau, Kalimba and Tambourine.

Alai K (Official Website)
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Alai K on Soundloud

Alai K participated in the fourth TEN CITIES episode of musical collaboration, which took the renowned Portugese producers Batida and Octa Push from Lisbon to Nairobi in April 2013. Further participants from Nairobi were Just A Band, Camp Mulla, Octopizzo, DJ Raph and an extended circle of musicians from Kenya. The Kenya phase was curated and facilitated by Just A Band's Bill Sellanga together with Berlin based musician Oren Gerlitz (Jahcoozi).

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