King Ayisoba, recognisable by an incredibly unique voice, and of course the accompaniment of the sacred kologo. King Aysioba was born in a tiny village in Ghana where he played the kologo everywhere he went. At the right time, he took his music to the neighbouring villages, and eventually to the city. Here he started to collaborate with Hi-life musicians, and produced his first tape/cd in 2006 - “Modern Ghanians” - of which ‘I want to se you my father’ became a hit, earning Ayisoba the position of popularising the kologo, and gained him the title of ‘King’ at the Ghana Music Awards Festival as part of Ghanas 50th anniversary celebrations.
Since Ayidoba, deemed King of the music in Ghana, has continued to take his traditional musics to global audiences the world over, and has collaborated with a number of legendary names, including Lee Scratch Perry on ‘1000 Must Die’.
King Ayisoba mixes his traditional styles, the use of the kologo: a two stringed lute used primarily and almost exclusively in areas of West Africa. As well as this the band uses various other traditional instruments, such as for percussion a calabash used like a football, with shakers inside, and is played by throwing rhythmically from hand to hand. A variety of native drums such as the guluku drums and the dundun drums. As well as these sounds, overall King Ayisoba often combines with electronic sounds.
I felt honoured to talk to King Asyioba as firstly a king of music, also the populariser of the sacred kologo music to a global audience, and so authentic in his music, the sounds of King Ayisoba and his band really transport you to West Africa… Ghana. His music also speaks without borders to everyone local to his village, local to Ghana and thus West Africa.
BBC3 Charlie Gillet Stage @ WOMAD
I had the opportunity to watch King Aysiobas set before talking to the band, they came out in amazing authentic batakari tunics, looking incredible in their West African garments, with their intriguing and magical instruments.
They proceeded to entice an entire audience with their melodic strumming and percussions. King Aysiboa’s unique voice echoing over the crowds as we danced with the band for a beautiful transformative hour.
As they finished playing, I made my way round the back to talk to the band a little…
Members: King Aysioba, Abaadongo Adontanga, Ayuune Sulley, Gemeka Akligilalatanda, Ayamga Francis
Sophie Darling (SD): Hello I loved the performance, I would love to know a bit more about your instruments, What is this?
King Ayisoba (KA) : It is very difficult to teach, This is the kologo..It is tuned to the voice
SD: How did you start to play the kologo, because it is after all strongly connected to your sound, as the populariser of the kologo globally?
KA: My grandfather used to play , and when he passed away, I was little, I never saw my grandfather before he passed away, but he say I need to play this kologo from my grandfather. And so when he passed, he said wheres this babies father, so they called my father to come, then they told my father that the child will play like my grandfather said, if you make a small kologo for me, so my father made a small kologo for me to play for four years, five years, six, years and I play with at parties, at the market, everywhere.
SD:You are from Northern Ghana,
KA: Yes from northern Ghana,
SD: Do you play any other instruments?
KA: I don’t want to play any instrument apart from the kologo, because if you play many instruments, you can't be professional for one, you get no where, but if you have one, you are very strong.
SD: What's the name of this drum
KA: Lumba - They call me lindisunga some people all these talking drums dumdum
SD: How long have you been playing in this set up?
KA: We started this together a long time ago, but maybe we come back together after I come out of profession with my father. After that, I knew that if you move to our own music you have to get back, so we start the band together in 2004/5
SD: 1000 can die, you wrote it with Lee Perry… What’s he like in person? Is he as crazy as a working partner?
KA: I didn’t know who he was at first, I wonder, yeah, I don’t know him well and we meet him, a year ago through our manager we meet him.
We meet him, how it is here, we had the same music, and we they told me he is a legend, they say, really important, he produced our first album. So they took my watch to give to the man, he like this, he like our record, and then they come back and say he want to work with us, we sit down and composed the song, and we also give the beat, and we have to give him the bat to listen to over there, and he also mixed the beats too we have to give the reggae man. So we give the reggae man, and he say wahh, and he tried to add some voice, and professionality. Was great.
SD: Who do you like to listen to musically?
KA: For me I like a lot, I like good music I like highlife, I like reggae, I guess I love it, I like all good music and all good singers, and some music I like it.
SD: Tell me about your fan base?
KA: Ayyyy we are the number star in Ghana, *laughs* is very good, very nice, everybody listen, there are lots of different styles, they are all different, but they all listen.
SD: Genre is hiplife, is this a creation? A mixture of highlife, dancehall and hip-hop?
KA: That is wrong, those are styles of music from Ghana but what we play is kologo music, hiplife is the Ghanian equivalent of rap music, high life is older music from 60’s and 70’s, they are playing a northern genre of kologo from the north, their region. And they have collaborated and played songs with hip-hop artists but my own style forever is kologo.