Tell us a little bit about your background, your childhood, how did you get into music; did you go to a music school or is it, self taught?
Toto Afrique is a young and talented band,we are in different high schools, two are in form 3,one in form 4 and our last born is currently in form 2,he is the Golden finger him self ‘Omosh’.
We are four guys from different hoods,Ali Suleiman Gonga,Jeff Kaptnwo Chesebe,James Omondi Gabi, Brandon Israel Otieno the fourth member joined the band last, he is the late comer.
Ali Suleiman – I taught my self how to sing but I went to a music school called Sauti Academy with James Omondi (Omosh) who taught himself how to play a guitar while Jeff Mate met us at a music festival at Kasarani Sport grounds in August, 2014 August.
Jeff saw many students there with instruments but he didn’t have any interest in them. On our way back home after a serious jam session with some students Omosh and Ali wore civilian clothes and Jeff came to us and introduced himself.
He said he played drums and we introduced our band to him. After the intro I preferred to have another jam session with Jeff at the same place,he was like mmmhhhh… ok and he was surprised when the Golden finger started talking with the guitar using his hands and I (Ali) started singing with no fear and we saw students from different schools joining us and that’s were we started the band.
It was also around this time that I met a friend from my hood named Ian Oure aka (Ian Msani) who I overheard talking about a music school called Sauti Academy based in Ngong Road ,Shalom House where we went for auditions and we met a beautiful teacher and our lovely mum called Natalie Lukkenaer; the founder and the director of Sauti Academy.
It was on a Monday morning on the day of the auditions,and at the end of it all we won and we got the support of Willy Paul,(Teacher Natalie talked to him and he came to support us for our first class). We were told to come again on a Thursday and Saturday for the next classes.
On that Saturday we performed for the students of Sauti Academy and that is where we were connected with Brandon and I invited him for our first show together at Pawa 254,and before the end of Decemebr, 2014.
We had a gig at Lavington playing as the three wise men,Natalie connected us with her friend called Judy on 24th and on 25th we had a show at Diani Mombasa for four hours with thorough practice at Wayne’s restaurant and we started getting paid there,we thanked Tr Natalie for supporting talent.
What kind of music do you do, is it abstract, or what is it? Do you have a specific design 0r technique associated with your brand? Tell us about your creative process.
We do Afro pop
What are you artistic influences; artists, sculptors, designers or just people who inspire your music?
Our inspiration came from Papa Wemba’s “rail on” song, Nyashinski, H_art the band,Sauti Sol, Tarus Riley.
What challenges have you endured during your artistic journey, especially as a Kenyan artist?
Challenges, Girls, Transport,Discrimination,discouragement.
If you had to change one thing in the Kenyan music industry what would that be?
Aim,changing our music and support up coming artists
Our creativity is to build live KENYAN music and to spread it to other countries or state
If you had a chance for an international work collaboration, who would it be and why?
Tarus Riley, Sauti Sol, Usher
Do you have a favorite musical piece, your crown jewel?
Our song “Like Rome”
If you were not doing music what you would be doing?
I would be an entrepreneur
Where do you see Toto Afrique in the next 10 years?
To have our empire to promote and nurture the of up coming artists
Word of advice to upcoming artists?
Go for it and get over it no matter what people say.
Where can people buy your music/concert tickets/ or which clubs do you play in?
We play at Tree House every Thursday from 8:00pm to 12:00am,entrance is free. (Westlands),
Friday’s at Pawa 254,Thursday and Tuesday at Aga Khan Walk 5:00pm to 7:00pm
You can also get our songs and interviews on YouTube as Toto Afrique Band,
follow our page Facebook Toto Afrik Band,