Video

Pierre Kwenders Pays Homage To The Legends Of Congolese Rumba In 'Sorry'

Quebec-based Congolese artist Pierre Kwenders talks to us about his recycled footage video for "Sorry" and his Congolese rumba influences.


Congolese artist Pierre Kwenders landed on our radar with last year's Le Dernier Empereur Bantou, an album that crafted electropop songs out of elements of Congolese rumba (or soukous) and modern beat programming — and earned Kwenders a Juno Awards nomination. In the video for his latest single "Sorry," the Quebec-based songwriter pays tribute to the pioneers of Congolese rumba with a recycled footage collage made up of performance videos from Tabu Ley Rochereau, Franco Luambo Makiadi, TPOK JazzSam Mangwana and others. The lyric video, co-directed by NOMAD, is a pretty fitting reflection of Kwenders' varied, distorted, and contemporary reinterpretation of the sounds of those DRC legends through his own artistic lens. We spoke with Pierre Kwenders via e-mail to discuss the background of "Sorry" and his Congolese influences. Read our short interview and watch the music video for "Sorry," premiering below.

Okayafrica: According to your press release, "Sorry" is inspired by a church song that you used to sing when you were in a choir. Can you expand on that?

Pierre Kwenders: At church we used to sing this song which was about asking for God's forgiveness - singing to wash away our sins essentially. In my song, "Sorry," forgiveness is being sought out in a romantic context. This song refers to the idea that sometimes we just need to accept the mistakes we make, seek forgiveness, and learn to forgive.

OKA: Tell us about the music video for the single and the recycled footage in it.

PK: I wanted to pay homage to the legends of Congolese rumba, dead or alive. I've always had this fantasy of seeing them singing my songs. This sort of makes it happen. A dream come true maybe.

OKA: What would you say are the Congolese influences on your sound?

PK: I’ve always been exposed to a lot of Congolese Rumba — a lot of Koffi Olomide, Franco and etc. I can't really put my finger on which aspect of this music influences the music I make today because it is very much a natural part of me. Whenever I approach a new song I think that I subconsciously recreate or borrow from that aesthetic, because I’ve had a strong relationship with it my whole life.

OKA: How do you pair those influences with the more modern electronic and pop beatwork in your songs?

PK: I think that all of the musicians that I admire the most have survived generations by adapting and by reinventing. My generation is heavily influenced by electronic music, so fusing both Afro and electro sounds brings a new element to both genres, subsequently bringing a larger audience.

OKA: You've worked with fellow Montreal-resident Samito. Do you find Montreal and Quebec have a growing afro-electronic scene

PK: Without a doubt. There is definitely something brewing within the Afro music scene in Montreal. It's become more and more common to hear songs with African origins such as Wizkid or Fantasma in the nightclubs. The solidarity between singers and DJs that share the scene here is incredible. I have to tip my hat to DJ Windows 98 [Arcade Fire's Win Butler] and Poirier who have both given me the opportunity to contribute to such an exciting music scene in Montreal. It feels great to be a part of something like this.

Interview

Interview: Wavy The Creator Is Ready to See You Now

The multidisciplinary Nigerian-American artist on tapping into all her creative outlets, creating interesting things, releasing a new single and life during quarantine.

A trip canceled, plans interrupted, projects stalled. It is six months now since Wavy the Creator has had to make a stop at an undisclosed location to go into quarantine and get away from the eye of the pandemic.

The professional recording artist, photographer, writer, fashion artist, designer, and evolving creative has been spending all of this time in a house occupied by other creatives. This situation is ideal. At least for an artist like Wavy who is always in a rapid motion of creating and bringing interesting things to life. The energy around the house is robust enough to tap from and infuse into any of her numerous creative outlets. Sometimes, they also inspire trips into new creative territories. Most recently, for Wavy, are self-taught lessons on a bass guitar.

Wavy's days in this house are not without a pattern, of course. But some of the rituals and personal rules she drew up for herself, like many of us did for internal direction, at the beginning of the pandemic have been rewritten, adjusted, and sometimes ditched altogether. Some days start early and end late. Some find her at her sewing machine fixing up thrift clothes to fit her taste, a skill she picked up to earn extra cash while in college, others find her hard at work in the studio, writing or recording music.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.

The 10 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring Wizkid, Alicia Keys x Diamond Platnumz, Manu WorldStar, Maya Amolo, La Dame Blanche and more.