By now, you’ve had a chance to check out new music from East African rockers Last Year’s Tragedy. But who are they? More importantly, what’s the rock scene like over in Kenya? We get the answers to those questions and more in the Q&A that follows. Big shout-out to their marketing guy, Tomi, for organizing all the responses!
First introduce yourselves to the Boldaslove.us community: What are your names, and what instruments do you play?
There are six of us. Stan plays the drums, Diallo on guitar, and Mahia on bass. We have two Davids: Chizi (Swahili for ‘mad man’), is our lead singer and he also writes most of the songs. The other David plays guitar.
How long have you been together?
We met in university in 2005, drawn by our common musical tastes. We used to hang out, play our music loud, skateboard, and play guitar together. In 2006 we then decided to form a band, and here we are now.
How do you guys describe your music? Is there a particular sound you have that would make people say, “I don’t know the name of that song, but I know that’s Last Year’s Tragedy!”?
We actually struggled to pin down a particular style, considering all six of us have different influences. Having said that, we do have a Post-hardcore style, sometimes leaning into metalcore. Right now we probably sound closest to a band like Funeral For A Friend.
Honestly, it was surprising to learn about you guys, in that one tends not to link rock and Kenya in the same thought. That said, what’s the scene like in Nairobi? I take it you’re part of a community of other bands and fans that support each other.
It’s interesting that there is a fair amount of rock played on Kenyan radio. We even have an all rock radio station. So rock isn’t particularly foreign to Kenyans. Some nightclubs even have rock-themed nights every week. The active rock scene though, is still growing. There used to be a tiny underground scene led mostly by bands set up by expatriate kids from the international schools. Other local bands slowly began to join the movement. This was followed by monthly Battle of the Bands shows, to help inspire bands with especially with the prize money, since it’s not very cheap to keep a band, especially with all the equipment required. Right now there is an active online community of a few thousand fans that discuss music and help boost the scene.
To what extent did the Kenyan crisis of 2007-2008 affect you all, both as Kenyans and as artists?
We were not directly affected as individuals, but Kenya is our country, and what affects Kenya affects us. It was painful to see our leaders put their own personal interests ahead of the nation. It was painful to see Kenyans turn on other Kenyans and kill them just because of differences in ethnicity or political affiliation. The country is calm now, but we hope and pray that these deep-rooted issues are sorted out. That’s why we do what we do as a band. We play alongside pop-punk bands, ska bands, and all sorts. We might be the longest running metal band in the country right now, but that does not make us superior to anyone else. We are happy to see new bands come up, and we encourage them, because they inspire us as much as we inspire them. Music can create unity.
In addition to you guys, what are some other Kenyan artists in your scene that we should be looking out for or be aware of?
Definitely! Look out for Seismic (Christian alt rock), In Oath (Christian melodic deathcore), Bloodshed (Christian rock), SVNL (metal/rap/reggae), and Narcissistic Tendencies With Delusions of Grandeur (metal/punk). Also you have to check out Murfy’s Flaw (afrobeat/alt rock). Plus there are so many other new upcoming bands. It’s a rapidly growing scene!
What’s the one thing you want people to know about the music scene in Nairobi?
Music is alive in Nairobi! Every single genre is alive here. We represent the rock scene and anyone from anywhere in the world is welcome to come and see what we do