An unforgettable voice from Kenya

An unforgettable voice from Kenya

Music means the world to him and Frank Koine cannot imagine a world without musical notes and rhythms. A singer-songwriter, who is back in the city to perform with Toccata Musical Productions UK at ‘Resonance 2017’, Frank is excited about how music has changed for him and around him. In a chat with Tini Sara Anien, he talks about the world of music.

What are your thoughts on Bengaluru?

This is my third time. Each time, I’ve been here with Toccata. I still remember the first time I came in 2014, though I feel like a regular now. The fact that there are a lot of musicians for this time’s edition is what makes it different this time. I would be repeating some songs like Justin Timberlake’s ‘Can’t Stop the Feeling’ and I can’t wait for that!

How different does it feel this time?
The repertoire has some changes which will bring its own experiences. Last time, I came with a group, but this time, I am here alone. I come representing Kenyan music, which can be quite a task. Some songs are vocally challenging to perform solo; they are like a drama and I am hoping that I will be able to do justice to them.

How similar or different is Indian music from Kenyan music?
The first common thing is the rhythm. Both have rhythms and music is also as popular in Kenya as it is here. The difference is that Indian music incorporates a lot more of Indian culture than Kenyan music does of its culture. Kenyan music doesn’t cross over to mainstream music, but it is different here. It is difficult to sell Kenyan music, but if it is fused with styles like pop or Western, then there is a bigger appeal. I look forward to fusing Indian music with my own music.

Your favourite genre of Indian music...
A lot of the Indian music I have heard is Bollywood music as it is popular back home. I might not be able to mention names, but I have heard a lot of Indian pop music, which I really enjoy. The Indian rhythms with pop fusion is very appealing.

You founded ‘Nakuru Amalgamation’, which is a gospel band...
It left quite an impact. The fact that gospel music has a lot more platforms that aren’t expensive, influenced me a lot. The music is about the message. There was a lot of hope and I got positive vibes from it. There is a lot of emotion attached to gospel music.

How different is producing music from being live on stage?
I enjoy writing music and fusing with unexpected sounds. Arranging music isn’t very difficult. Producing music is a different ball game as sometimes halfway through, one could scrap some songs that one had written. Being live on stage is challenging as it is very organic. One has to go with the flow and I like that.

What inspires you?
My music is inspired by what is happening around me or where I am in life. I enjoy writing stories. One of my favourite songs is ‘Kipeppo’ (meaning ‘butterfly’) which is a heartbreak song and ‘Songa Mbele’ (meaning ‘moving forward’) which was based on some personal loss. I also have exciting songs like ‘Traffic Lights’ which anyone can dance to.  

Music to you is...
The world would be sad without music. I feel alive when I am performing. Music is life to me. It is like a ship to me which can ride through all storms.

Having taken music to Norway, Sri Lanka and across the globe, where do you feel most comfortable performing?
Apart from Kenya, I can vouch that I am most comfortable in India. The Indian audience tends to be very interested in the sounds I bring. It could be the love for rhythm and dance, but the audience here likes to be a part of the performance and groove to the beats. I love that!

Have you had a taste of Bengaluru’s music?
Though I have been here earlier, I haven’t had a chance to experience music locally. I hope to attend some events or meet some musicians this time and get a feel of the music here. I imagine the music to be lively and vibrant.

Compared to 2014, how much has this city changed?
The city has definitely changed in terms of infrastructure. There are new roads and the traffic has also increased (smiles).

   I think I would need to come here many times or live here for a while to understand the city; I feel like I am just scratching the surface still. I still see the same vibrancy here.

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