Interview
Photo: Paulina Biswell

Interview: Bamao Yendé Is All Pulsating Emotion

We talk to the Paris-based, Cameroonian-rooted artist about his rhythmic blend of kuduro, R&B, afrobeats and UK garage.

Bamao Yendé would have been, practically, born within earshot of popping corks when his mother gave birth to him in Reims — one of France's three grand Champagne cities. Later, at 12 years old, he was shuttled off to the more oppressive concrete suburbs of Paris. As if carried by sunshine, the mystical CEO of Boukan Records is using his talent to transform the lives of his friends as well as his own. The champagne remains serenely on ice.

Yendé is a dreamer, so relaxed that I would dare to say that he could have been in this interview and another realm simultaneously. We begin at lunchtime as he settles down, bleached hair poking out from under his baseball cap and a playfully bleached mustache on an extremely calm face; he is beyond softly spoken. Sipping a glass of white wine, having escaped for a week in the sun to Marseille to film a music video, the good times are here. But with Yendé, work and play seem suffused, one firing into the other to create his sound, reflected in the energy of the saturated otherworld of sweat and hyper-color beamed down in his videos.

Bamao Yendé's music is a sensual pulsating warmth of emotion; a mix of kuduro, R&B, afrobeats, UK garage; all euphoric rhythm. It seems quite clear, though, that he wishes you to care less for the details than just to let go; to trust and feel your way to someplace hopeful and liberating. From the intimate "Marvin Gueye" that comes at you with a whispering heat to the call to arms and legs of "Okocha" that grinds and hustles deliriously, the snap of Bamao Yendé's music is a joyous zouk party from another world.

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