story by Mantse Aryeequaye + Sionne Neely
IND!E FUSE 2012 was the most exciting, lavishly intense live show by any group of artists in Accra. 16 music acts participated – each creating their own version of an Accra indie monstrosity – dropkicking through live bass, synth harmonics and drum rhythms with menacingly cinematic vamps.
Approximately 1600 indie music fans jammed over the two day music event with headliners FOKN BOIS and Tawiah causing an almighty ruckus. In just two years, IND!E FUSE has quickly become the place for exposing music lovers to new and groundbreaking artists from Ghana, Africa and abroad.
At the mainstage show, rapper duo and IND!E FUSE MCs, The Sankwas Bois [aka Mutombo da Poet and Simpol Tinz], STILL have people in stitches with their animated antics and raw, hilarious improvisation.
The F.O.K.N BOIS delivered their zombie apocalypse lyrics with a raw, funked-out fusion sound. As chaotic as their music may seem, in reality the duo are exceptionally tight and well-rehearsed which is crucial for pulling off their ingenuous shtick.
TAWIAH’s London Town musical approach stretches the imagination in wildly blissful directions. Her vocal style is a jaw-dropping melodic creation. This marks Tawiah’s first performance at the festival and she’s already talking about returning with her band to perform at IND!E FUSE.
“I’d like to bring my boys to Accra and jam. They are gonna love it!” she shares. “Coming to Ghana this time has made me think about visiting a bit more frequently.” Tawiah’s new mixtape album, FREEDOM DROP, is the singer’s first full offering in four years and is slated for release in early 2013.
On several occasions, JOJO ABOT engaged the crowd in a lively call-and-response during her Afro-jazz trance mashup. A veteran at producing her own shows at intimate venues across the city, the singer and fashion designer is well aware of how to whip up a heaping pot of magic brew for her captive audience. Halfway through Jojo’s set, she literally switches gears onstage – dropping her thigh-high split black and white mosaic skirt and leather jacket to reveal a sleeveless black mini dress.
LADY JAY has grown into such a beautiful butterfly. The singer/songwriter’s in the Pidgen Music studio right now with A.R.T.’s Sewor Okudzeto and word on the street is that she’s recording her first album. Her dressed down demeanor onstage [“Can I Give It to My Monkey?” tee, patchwork shorts and chale wote] gave way to a sincerely thick, all-out-there stage performance.
As one fan put it, “The simple truth is, I love the music here. I yearn for this sound. I adore the way the guitar solos send chills up and down my body. I crave the memories that are conjured up with each tune. And every year I need a blast of this, live in person.”
This is in reference to FAINTMEDAL’s set, the band who first got Accra’s attention with their single “Ah Dey Feel You Die”. The band performed this head-banging jam first at IND!E FUSE 2011 paving the way for a pidgin-rock sound that has put them on the radar as the band to watch this year.
FaintMedal is one of Ghana’s champions in the emerging pidgin-rock genre, their songs bridge the gap between underground Afrobeat and industrial rock. It’s been difficult molding a new style, but things have come together for FaintMedal and their set at IND!E FUSE was evidence of that.
Their heavy horns and bass set the tone for PAAPA’s appearance – by now the crowd is high from screaming and chanting making this the best backdrop for Paapa to vibe his loop station.
Paapa is one of the most talented artists we’ve seen in the last five years. The Skillions Records resident producer/artist released a number of singles that reverberated from Accra to Portland [where he goes to university] including “Dear Grace” and “Pure Water”.
The music Paapa brought to IND!E FUSE can be described as vintage sweet electro meshed with distorted synths and the jagged-edge attitude of hip hop beats. The vocals are nonchalant and slightly withdrawn with random, wonderful quirks like the gleeful, harmonizing verses that send female fans into a dizzy tizzy, screaming the amphitheater down. His new album SONGS FOR KUKUA drops digitally on Independence Day, March 6th.
YAA PONO slam dunks it again. He’s an IND!E FUSE All-Star – freestyling a cameo on our first show and performing a killer set in 2011 with FaintMedal. This versatile rapper cum rock artist always flips it different each time he’s on stage. The audience can’t help themselves – leaving the stands in droves to come down to the front of the stage and make friends with a legend-in-training. Yaa Pono’s got that African moshpit music thing going on like no other.
For most people who showed up at the concert, LYRICAL WANZAM represents what Ghanaian hip hop needs at this moment – cutting edge pidgin vim. His set popped with a great tempo – decadent baselines mashing against traditional drumbeats and haunting samples with a supersonic effect. Wanzam’s songs take their time to work on the listener, but once the meanings hit you, you’ll cling on like a lifeboat.
His new single “For Sheygey Reasons” with M.anifest is enjoying a lot of download action and radio play. This is his first appearance on the festival and we’re already discussing a possible appearance for the 2013 edition.
We can’t wrap this up without mentioning the awesome live music accompaniment of the band, AFRO-HARMONY. These young hip hop cats definitely know how to kirk out proper onstage.
Shout out also to the Nigerien band, ZANTOU LANSRR. Everything about the collective is intricately charming and beautiful, from their flowing traditional garb to the desert blues funk that the audience can’t get enough of. Lead vocalist Juberu is a beast on the electric guitar. His riffs stuck in our heads long after they left the stage.
That is IND!E FUSE 2012 in a nutshell – a night of beautifully loud and hauntingly rich music from the best of Ghana’s indie circuit.
Stay tuned for more on IND!E FUSE right here.