What happens when four young and creative-minded Kenyans hang out in a music studio for an extended period of time? You guessed it: brilliant music.
Cosmic Homies, which comprises Taio, Runkah, Marushka and Kiwango, is a Nairobi-based experimental music collective revolutionizing the Kenyan underground scene. The four band members played their first U.S. show at South by Southwest Festival in Texas last month. Ahead of their Sunday show at The Shrine in New York City, the band took time to sit down with KenyanVibe on Friday to discuss art, the future and, of course, music.
Taio, the band’s DJ, recalled how he met the rest of the band members through mutual friends at a Nairobi music studio. After starting to hang out regularly at said studio, the four eventually tried their hand at recording some music together.
“We were already homies from that point on and the conversations we were having and the general energy in the room was of a higher nature,” Taio said. “The term ‘Cosmic’ just seemed like the most appropriate word if we had to put a title on it.”
The band draws influence from a wide variety of musical styles including hip-hop, rap, funk and afropunk. Their sound is reminiscent of other Kenyan greats like Just A Band and Wangechi, yet different enough to branch out into its own atmosphere.
“Whoever is being themselves, breaking outside of stereotypes and doing things on their own are our influences,” said Karun, who sings and raps in the band.
The Homies’ distinct style and sound has garnered them a loyal fan-base among Nairobi’s various underground scenes. In the U.S., the band’s path is just beginning to take shape.
Following a South by Southwest show Marushka called “incredible,” the four traveled to the East Coast where they will play a total of four shows before they head back to the west coast and focus on polishing their full-length album, which they expect to release this summer.
Beyond such immediate plans, the Homies hope to be able to continue doing what they love: create, share and live off of music.
“Whereas a lot of people dream about making a chunk of change and getting famous and buying a Lamborghini or something, I feel like one of our personal goals is to never have to deal with fame,” Marushka, who sings and plays guitar, said. “I hope we can just rise as musicians and continously create and dig deeper and deeper and deeper into the artistic rabbit hole we’re diving down.”
While we eagerly await their full-length album, check out the Homies’ four-track preview: