CriticalMass
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CriticalMass

London, England, United Kingdom | Established. Jan 01, 2011 | INDIE

London, England, United Kingdom | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2011
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For 18 years, he has best been known as the percussionist with acid jazz god king Jamiroquai. On Monday, 3rd of March, 2014, Sola Akingbola launches the single Generation Vex with the live project Critical Mass. The song, heavily influenced by Yoruba rhythms, is available on iTunes, Spotify, Deezer and Amazon.

Generation Vex, the first single by Critical Mass

StarAfrica – Greetings Sola Akingbola, please can you talk a little bit about your new live project Critical Mass and its debut single, Generation Vex (watch the video above), available now through Hip Sync Records and to be followed by an extended play next month. First of all, you spent a long time as the percussionist with Jamiroquai. How did reach this juncture where you can express your creativity on your own terms?
Sola Akingbola – Critical Mass is a forum where I can be inspired by and hopefully inspire, the up and coming talented musicians in London. The band keeps me on my toes and demand that I return that energy. Also, I always felt that the UK lacked a band of high quality that reflected the growing confidence and desire of UK Africans to be part of the Uk live music scene. Not as exotic appendages, but as potentially transformative elements of the ever changing UK musical identity.
The single Generation Vex, came out of a series of conversations I had with an amazing social anthropologist –Dr Gillian Evans (Manchester University), about the alternative manner in which young people – the so called disengaged – do politics, through music.
Dr Evans did a vast amount of her fieldwork in and around the council estates of Bermondsey in southeast London. Interviewing young people in the local youth clubs, getting a genuine sense of their anger, resentment and sense of abandonment. But also the way they created their own support networks.
Vex is a word you would hear a lot among the Caribbean’s of London and as you mentioned, “man dey vex oh!” – pidgin amongst the West Africans.
I love the sound of it!
I have been working on a lot of material over the past few years, in between touring and recording with Jamiroquai. As our touring schedule began to ease up, I realized I had a bit of time on my hands –as I am some one who gets bored very quickly-, I set myself the challenge of trying to respond to my question about the quality of UK African bands. If you don’t like something, then try and change it abi?
It’s also easier for me now because my daughter’s school fees are over!!

the anger, resentment and sense of abandonment of young people

When I hear the words Critical Mass, I think power of the crowd, the idea that people are not sheep, and an atomic explosion or singularity. What is the high level concept for your group and why did you pick this name? Is that a purely musical concept or does it tie in with the idea that crowds are driving the change, the Arab Spring, Euromaidan, etc.?
Yes, it does tie in with the people and change or a person and change. Even a deeper personal change in ones mental framing that then has a powerful effect on ones interaction with others. I have been interested for some time in the relationship between Religion and the intellect. Religious ideas and how they have been spread around the world. At what point does the critical faculty stop in order to accommodate faith? Is there a paradox?

How do you function as a group with Michel Castellanos, Will Fry and Jeremiah Olaleye? And with Marco Sandeman, who directed the mindblowing Generation Vex video?
As a group, we are no different to any other group in the sense that when we are all available, we get together and rehearse. I think the only complaint from the guys is that, I never get the music to them before we rehearse, so we are kind of working things out during rehearsals. This will change, I have promised! Michel and Will have very strong Afro-Cuban backgrounds, particularly Michel. When they play together, there is a beautiful unspoken understanding, which is so important. Jeremiah is my Yoruba partner in time.
He has that cultural understanding as a Yoruba, that makes it easy for me to suggest things from that context. They are all really funky cats that can interpret ideas in a contemporary manner, I am lucky.

Which musical space are you trying to reach?
As I mentioned in the beginning, there is a genuine space for really good live acts based in the UK, with that UK / African perspective. There have not been any bands of that caliber since the likes of Osibisa, The Oro Band. Also bands that can match up to the top mainstream acts. The industry has changed considerably, with the Internet we can reach a lot of people.
With the right product and marketing, it’s all open.

we can reach a lot of people

Can you give a bit of context about Generation Vex. U dey vex?
Generation Vex reminds me of the fact that societies all over the world are trying to manage that generational tension. Not just with young people but going through the various age groups, there is always the need and desire to reassess the status quo, re-evaluate the terms of the social agreement. “Is that still working for me this arrangement, or am I ready for change, what am I ready to do for that change” This question can come for anyone at anytime in their lives.

You mention Yoruba influences; can you recommend a few names of Yoruba artists for us to enjoy?
My Yoruba influences are really quite old school: Haruna Isola is a big favourite, Yusuf Olatunji, Isiaka Atanda, The Lijadu sisters, Sunny Ade.
These were the artists my parents listened to. I just loved to see my Mum and Dad dancing to this stuff, so it really seared itself on my memory, but I was always looking for ways to re-interpret their approaches in a 21Century way, if that makes any sense. I guess that’s what most artists are trying to do. There is a Yoruba saying that “there is nothing new under the sun” It’s all been done before, it’s a matter of how you want to scramble your eggs!

Please pick one place in Africa which inspires you.
Dogon in Mali

Critical Mass + Africa = …?
FUNKY ROOTS - Star Africa


THROWBACK TO MY OLD MUSIC BLOG ATTEMPTS + WHY SOLA AKINGBOLA IS KIND OF A BIG DEAL
April 4, 2014 · by Anke Holst · in Uncategorized. ·
So I’m a little hesitant to put this out there (you will see why.)

After I came back from Nigeria in 2008 to take care of family stuff, and couldn’t keep developing my project there, I tried to blog about the music from here. I didn’t keep that blog or my connections with the world of music going for long, because I was focusing on work and family and all sorts, but also because – well, here, music is ‘just’ entertainment, and the scene is run by Simon Cowell and similar asshats (sorry, but it’s true.) I couldn’t deal with the West African entertainment scene here, and I had started a business with somebody completely impossible. All sorts of fun things.

The last person I meant to interview for my music blog was Sola Akingbola and here’s a link to my old blog where I explain why. (Oh god, here we go. It’s very old blog from a long time ago. never mind…)

That never happened – Sola was mostly still touring with Jamiroquai and at some point I stopped asking. I only saw Sola with his band in concert once in 2008 and absolutely loved what he was doing. I’ve been watching for new material from him ever since.

Sola is the percussionist for Jamiroquai and his solo stuff throws together his amazing rhythms with his Yoruba roots. It is the most funky music you will ever hear – I used to keep going on about West Africa being the original source of funk. Well, here you have a great example of what happens if a great musician goes right back to his roots. I think this is more important than what Seun Kuti does – Seun is great, but he is Fela’s son and has so far not moved away from doing pretty much what Fela was doing in the 70s. Even Femi still uses the same Hammond organ and band setup. Seun even uses the same band members. What else is coming out of West Africa? There’s a thriving music industry, but not much that’s finding international attention.

To me, it’s not an overstatement to say that Sola’s stuff is the new Zeitgeist. I don’t know what will happen next but you should keep an eye out for gigs near you. If you love funk, anyways. - Anke Holst


Exclusive: Sola Akingbola speaks with Afritorial.com and takes us through his solo debut EP from his new live project ‘Critical Mass’.

THROWBACK TO MY OLD MUSIC BLOG ATTEMPTS + WHY SOLA AKINGBOLA IS KIND OF A BIG DEAL
April 4, 2014 · by Anke Holst . · - Afritorial


Discography

Generation Vex
G Spot
Ninu Opn 2
Boya iro Ni 2
Tell Me You Feel The Same

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Bio

Jamiroquai percussionist Sola Akingbola launches live project

 

Debut EP from Solas live project Critical Mass to be released on 1st May through iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, Deezer

 

Jamiroquai percussionist Sola Akingbola is to take centre stage with the release of a debut EP from his new live project Critical Mass.

 

The EP - titled Generation Vex - will be released through Hip Sync Records on 1st May.

 

Generation Vex mixes twisted guitars riffs with explosive beats in a contemporary Afro-UK sound that pounds with a futuristic edge. The song melds stylistic and tempo shifts, reflecting the diverse influences brought to the group by its members and the discordant times in which we live.

 

Cuban drummer Michel Castellanos and English percussionist Will Fry play alongside Jeremiah Olaleye, on bass, and Sola Akingbola, on lead vocals and percussion.

 

The EP was written - by Sola Akingbola and social anthropologist Gillian Evans - as a reaction to the revolutionary undercurrents and periods of mass defiance that have characterised the beginning of the 21st Century.

 

We wanted to delve into our separate musical cultures and bring them all together on this single, said Sola Akingbola.

 

But we didnt just want it to be a fusion of styles, we wanted to bring our individual influences and make something fresh and unique, that pulls us together into something new and speaks to people about the way we live now.

 

By harnessing those different styles and bringing them into a single sound we want to reflect the schizophrenic way we live now, where thousands of aggravated voices can cry out all at once. Those voices may speak in many languages, but theyre all expressing the same thing.

 

Thats what we hope our project does. We hope weve created something people will really connect with.

 

Notes to editors:

 

1. Sola Akingbola has been the percussionist with Jamiroquai for 18 years

2. Private downloads of Generation Vex will be available via Sound Cloud

3. Marco Sandeman, of Irregular Films, directed the Generation Vex video

4. Sola Akingbola is available for interviews via Hip Sync Records

 

Further information:

 

Artist: Critical Mass

EP title: Generation Vex

Release date: 1st May 2014

Label: Hip Sync Records

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CMassLive / https://twitter.com/@solasco

Youtube video:  :  http://youtu.be/jw_BDwXAmo0

 

Band Members