Birmingham band Kioko talk festival appearances and inspirations - unsigned interview

By Daniel Earl | Entertainment | Published:

Kioko are a Birmingham Ska and reggae pop band working their way across the festival circuit this summer.The seven-piece act at college and formed from the remnants of other bands. The current line-up have been together since 2014.

Brassed off – Kioko are set on the big time

Let’s Be Frank, released on Avant Garde Music, was recorded and produced by UK reggae and urban legend Spider Johnson. He’s the previous band leader for Lee Scratch Perry and is famous for his collaborations with a host of stars such as Kano and Estelle. Let’s Be Frank followed on from their previous EP True What They Say, which was out in 2014.

Musically, the EP finds itself rooted in the Ska and reggae roots of old with a shiny and modern production that brings it forward to 2017.

With thoughtful lyrics and catchy melodies, the band are certainly ones to catch live over the summer.

Lead track, Tired of Lying, is accompanied by a video made by Chris Cove of Birmingham-based production company Blue Monday. It also features acclaimed actor Thomas Brodie-Sangster, famed for playing Jojen Reed in Game of Thrones.

Jon Brown, the band’s guitarist explains the musical inspirations for Let’s Be Frank,

“There’s a really great reggae scene nationally with a big focus on London. We really like what Kiko Bun is doing and also what Prince Fatty is doing with his collaborations,” he says.

“We draw a lot of inspiration from old reggae and rock steady artists such as Alton Ellis and we really love the disco-infused old-school sounds of Prince Lincoln, a sound that we’re trying to channel at the moment.”

Coming out of the vibrant Birmingham music scene – alongside fellow nationally-acclaimed reggae roots acts such as By The Rivers – Kioko have toured with international acts such as Lee Scratch Perry, The Wailers and The Specials.


They have also been given national recognition by Huw Stephens on BBC Radio One and David Rodigan on BBC 1Xtra.

Kioko’s voice is inextricably linked to the current socio-political landscape. They believe post-Brexit Britain could be regressing back to the difficult times of 1970s, with the best music often comes out of the most depressing political situations. They look to other heroes of the Ska and reggae movements such as The Specials and Madness for inspiration.

“Reggae is the blues of the Carribbean veiled in infectious sun drenched rhythm, it’s the music of those who have suffered, and there’s a lot of suffering going on at the moment,” says Jon.

Speaking about the lyrics on Let’s Be Frank, Jon says it deals with the band’s problems as an up-and-coming act in the music industry.


“People have tried to take advantage of us and not do what’s best,” he explains.

“Although this EP isn’t massively inspired by the current political climate, it does carry an overall message of positivity, all be it bittersweet.”

Kioko has the mainstream is in their sight – and we think they can make it.

They will be performing at festivals across the UK throughout the summer including Kendal Calling, Belladrum Festival, Boomtown Festival, Boardmasters Festival and Green Man Festival.

The band will also be performing on dates with Dub Pistols around the UK later this year. It’s certainly worth catching them live.

Follow Kioko on Twitter @kiokomusicuk or Facebook

Daniel Earl

By Daniel Earl

User generated content co-ordinator for the Express & Star and Shropshire Star


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