Kenyan composer and sound artist Nyokabi Kariūki will release her debut EP, ‘peace places: kenyan memories’, next month via SA Recordings. Listen to the single, ‘Equator Song’, below.
Across the EP’s six tracks, Kariūki, who lives between Nairobi, New York and Maryland, weaves elements of experimental electronic music, contemporary classical, choral pop and East African traditional styles to create a work that explores personal memory.
Written during the pandemic while living in the US, Kariūki drew upon memories of her home country for solace and inspiration. These memories are channelled into the EP through Kariūki’s use of field recordings, keyboards, kalimbas and electronic tools. Throughout the release, she sings and speaks in the Kiswahili, Kikuyu and Maa languages, as well as in English.
Speaking about ‘Equator Song’, Kariūki said: "On a journey through the county of Laikipia, Kenya, I’d recorded some weaverbirds in a nearby tree, whose vibrant yellow feathers seemed, in a way, a visual juxtaposition to the dissonance of their song. While on this land, where the equator stretches through, I also found myself pondering over another juxtaposition between harmony and disharmony — my own feelings of connection, but also disconnect, to the land, my lineage, and our languages.
“Wanting to acknowledge the discomfort of expressing in languages that I do not speak, I start in English — 'you’ll find my soul on someone’s tongue' — before shifting to Kiswahili. But by the song’s end, hoping that I’ve made peace with this discomfort, I turn to the language of Maa, for it is preserved in the meaning of the name I carry. Steadily, I count in this unfamiliar tongue, tracing the words that many in Laikipia county speak; and perhaps also tracing the words that my ancestors may have spoken."
Listen to ‘Equator Song’ below. ‘peace places: kenyan memories’ will be released on 25th February. Pre-order it here.