Nickens Nkoso performing on stage with Kasai Masai

An Interview with Nickens Nkoso from Kasai Masai

From WOMAD to Glastonbury, veterans of the festival scene Kasai Masai make their Harrogate debut at Spiegeltent on Saturday 2 July.

Kasai Masai is led by percussionist, singer and dancer Nickens Nkoso, a well known figure on the global music circuit who has played at festivals over the world. Ahead of the band’s Spiegeltent gig this weekend, we talk to Nickens about his musical influences, life on the festival circuit and the people up North.

How would you describe your gig to someone who’d never been before?

Good fun, very hard to stand still, electric, brings joy on the dance floor.

You’ve played so many festivals! Which has been your favourite, and why?

Sarawaka World Music Festival in Malaysia, it was in the forest, we felt at home, the connection with the crowd was just amazing.

Have you toured up North before? Is there anything in particular you’re excited for?

Yes, we have performed many times in the North. We love travelling up North, people are really friendly and it doesn’t take much to get the party started. I know I can count on people in the North to have a very good time together. We always have a great atmosphere!

As part of our Music Festival we have a young musicians series. What is the best advice you were given as a musician starting out and do you have any words of wisdom for those at the start of their musical careers?

Keep practicing, stick to your feeling, use criticism in a constructive way, always smile, and have fun on stage.

What is your favourite track from Sunshine Music and why?

Ima Ole, it always bring joy and happiness to me, it makes me feel at home.

What are your main musical influences?

We were inspired by Franco, Papa Wemba, Kanda Bongoman etc., and also Afro-cubano sounds.

Can you tell us more about your contemporary style combined with traditional Congolese music?

We have transferred the sound of our traditional instruments into the modern ones. Our ancestors used Congolese folk traditional musical instruments like Piano thumb, slit wooden drum, Balafon, spirit drum, pot drum, Dun dun, Nose flute to name but few. We have managed to condensed all those sounds into our six piece band.

Of all our other Spiegeltent performers, who would be your top festival pick?

London Afrobeat Collective

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Watch Kasai Masai perform

-“Overwhelming urge to move the dance floor” – Nige Tassel, WOMAD Festival