Bien-Aime Baraza, Delvin Mudigi, Willis Austin Chimano and Polycarp Otieno makes up the Kenyan band, Sauti Sol.
They describe their sound as “pop music which tells uniquely African stories”. Sauti Sol have known each other and made music together for 15 years.
“The three of us (Baraza, Mudigi and Chimano) met in high school and later met Polycarp at Alliance Francaise in Nairobi. He was just hanging out there, playing the guitar for girls. We pulled him into a more meaningful cause,” Baraza jokes.
They have released two studio albums and collaborated with the likes of Mi Casa, Nigeria’s 2Face Idibia and Tanzania’s Ali Kiba. “The collaboration with Mi Casa was one of our favourites. We’d spoken about it for a long time and when it finally happened, it was easy and very much an ‘about time’ feeling,” Mudigi explains. “It’s important to work with artists across borders as this does more for international relations than trade or any policy can.
When Sauti Sol do a song with Mi Casa, Kenyans love Mi Casa and South Africans love Sauti Sol,” Baraza says. The group is looking to work with a number of other South African artists in the near future. “We had a studio session with AKA this week and have been in talks with Heavy K for a long time about making music. We just haven’t had the time, but will make it soon,” Baraza tells us. They also have dreams of working with Belgian/Rwandan artist, Stromae, American DJ and producer, Diplo, Kanye West, Drake and Chris Brown.
All born in the same year and just a year shy of their 30th birthdays; the bandmates are looking to do more than make music and have their hearts set on making history. They plan to open a music label in Kenya next year in order to develop the country’s entertainment industry. “We’re looking to sign anyone who makes artistic and financial sense – anyone who can carve a niche for themselves and comes with their own fan base as we want this to be a financially viable project” Baraza explains. “We want to bring the kind of infrastructure we see here (South Africa) home. We’d like it to be more than a label – a movement – and one that will live on for a long time,” Mudigi adds.
The group are on tour, promoting their latest album, Live and Die in Afrika, and are excited about the future: “There has never been a better time to be African. We, as young people, can now take charge of our stories, perception and image. We are coming of age,” Chimano closes.