We caught up with Canada based Ghanaian singer/songwriter Kae Sun recently and spoke about his music, performing at Yale and issues making the news and living as an African in Canada.
ADA: What was it like sharing a stage with Just a Band?
KAE SUN: Yeah man, Just a Band has a great energy about them. They’re making this music that, similar to mine, is drawing from more of a rock, psychedelic, funk aesthetic the appeal is much wider than just Africa or the diaspora. I definitely mess with their sound.
Performing at Yale
Yale is centuries old and for this to be their debut contemporary art festival with a focus on Africa, is a special achievement. I have a lot of respect for Ifeanyi Awachie and her crew for pulling it off. Anytime Africans or any historically excluded group can take up space in institutions like Yale on their own terms, that’s progress.
ADA: What is it like for African artists in Canada?
KAE SUN: Canada’s a small country, in terms of population. There tends to be a bit of a disconnect. If you exclude the U.S, Canada is geographically isolated so there’s that little brother complex. In arts and culture things get here a bit late. So outside cities like Montreal and Toronto there’s not enough accurate coverage and support for the expressions of people of color and when there is it’s often a bit of a caricature.
Somali, Ethiopian, Nigerian, Ghana. Africans started arriving in cities like Montreal and Toronto, in droves only in the 80’s, 90’s even. It’s like we’re still unpacking. I moved to Canada in the 2000’s, speaking for myself, my ties to this country can be tenuous because I have so much immediate family who have settled in America and a lot of times would rather be there, perhaps this is common within the African community here. It’s hard to create within a specifically Canadian context when the debate is always what it means to be Canadian period.
Thoughts on Ferguson
KAE SUN: Ferguson, there was a solidarity movement here in Toronto. There was one successful protest which the media missed the point on. The organizers asked that non-black protesters fall back, let black folks lead the march, I thought that was a great move and even though it ended up being really successful, all mainstream media wanted to talk about was angry black folk asking white people to step back. There’s generally a lot of that kind of racism here wrapped in Canadian niceness.
Detailing his music
KAE SUN: Sonically, I’ve always been about trying things out. Music for me has been such a trip; I’m surprised and grateful that I get to do this at all. I geek out on instruments and on singing and on performance. Right now I’m drawing a lot of ideas from recording myself on different instruments and just messing with the sound of it.
Listen UP: Kae Sun debuts his new song, Long Walk.