“I’m a warrior, but even lions cry too,” bellows Farai Bukowski-Bouquet over the heavy synth and marching bass of ‘I’m a Warrior.’ It’s a track that follows the soothing prelude of an ambient opener in ‘Intro’; a musing on the complexity of love, lust and self-care from a four-track EP called KISSWELL, named after her father and guide who recently passed away.
The aforementioned standout track — which was also released as a music video on NTS in January of this year, directed and edited by Crackstevens — encapsulates both the struggle and resistance of what the Zimbabwe-born, poet and musician describes as “living in and battling life on the streets.” It was produced with London-based musician and friend TØNE (aka Basil Anthony Harewood) in a collaboration, which they describe as a friendship “drawn together through spiritual gravity.” The working relationship evolved over a series of sessions in Deptford through 2016, crystallising in the KISSWELL EP release via the Chino Amobi, nkisi and ANGEL-HO-founded label NON Worldwide in March.
Ahead of their Festival Hyperlocal performance at London’s Cafe Oto on September 16, we speak with FARAI the band, about what’s behind the EP, what their influences are, and the reactions from the past that have influenced their present.
**How did you guys start working together?
TØNE: My brother put us in touch, about four years ago. I was recently band/project-less and he mentioned a Zimbabwean poet calling herself Bukowski. I just knew from the intro it was going to be an interesting collaboration.
**Is the project a fusion of your independent sounds or something entirely different?
TH: I think we were both finding our style previous to the project and I guess we are always going to be in that process of change and progression but, for me, my music has taken on a new life of its own working with Farai. I think music is really a reaction to a situation or feeling you get, either in the presence of other people or by words or images you see. And my music here is a reflection of Farai’s poetry, which hasn’t seen song shapes before. So, yes, I would say this is a new approach for us both.
**Are there some specific inspirations behind this EP you can share?
Farai: Kisswell is my father who died last year, whom the EP was named after and dedicated to. He was a great inspiration to me and I wanted his energy and spirit to live on in my music.
F: I started art school before pursuing music and also fashion is also a big part of my life. I feel it’s a powerful tool for expression especially now we have a platform to do that with live gigs and photos for publications. I plan to curate an art show soon with artists and friends of mine such as Chris Calderwood and TØNE, who will do a music/video installation. I would also like to try get our friend Mica to contribute, she paints the best pieces and always leaves them around the studio her and TØNE share.
To add, I also consider myself a writer, poet and spoken word artist, I integrate this into every one of my shows and I plan to release a written work at some in the future.
** What/who are you most excited by sonically (or other) at the minute?
T + F: We both really like pop music, afro beat, latest chart stuff. We thought about this the other day, as the music we make can be super intense, I think for us we need soothing. Davido, sza, mac demarco. But also a lot of our friends music, SWEETBOY, RAISA K, BLUE SHIT, COBY SEY, BROTHER MAY, BUSINESS LUNCH, BEN VINCE, KLEIN, LARRY B, JACOB SAMUEL. The new label Curl run these dope jam/gig nights, which are always fun. The next batch is happening sometime soon. **