Artist Spotlight

Saint Evo

From: Kenya and resident of Kajiado County

Music genre: Specializes in Afro House and House music in all its forms

What do you do in the music industry?

I am a DJ/Producer.  My first love was music production. The whole idea of translating feelings into sound has always awed me. So when I finally had an opportunity to explore it, I did not hesitate.  On the other hand, being a DJ allows me to share my musical narratives with a live audience. In such a space and time, the symbiotic consumption of energies becomes a spiritual experience. When the two (DJ/Producer) are in one…well… then there is much fun to be had!

How did you get into music?

I was in South Africa at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, enrolled for a degree in Business Administration.  Seeing that I already had a musical disposition, it was not long before the musical “cancer” became malignant and one semester later I had already dropped out. The following days and months would see me knocking on doors to get DJing gigs. During this period, my brother gave me a laptop and once I made my acquaintance with a buddy called Fruity Loops, I never looked back.

Where do you usually play and where have you played before (including festivals)?

Nowadays I hardly play at all. Reason being, I have been shafted a lot when it comes to fees. Once a promoter paid me with a bottle of cheap gin and a smile.

In another instance, a high profile company renegaded on my fee after they had booked me for an elite after party. At this event, the client spent over $30,000 on décor inter alia and felt no guilt exploiting my talent. That is the day I decided that I would rather spend more time producing music than gigging.  However, if a promoter meets my terms, I will gig.

I have gigged at Sauti za Busara Festival (Zanzibar), Doa Doa Festival (Uganda), Wilder Festival (Kenya) and in several clubs within Pietermaritzburg (South Africa), Stone Town (Zanzibar), Nairobi (Kenya) and Johannesburg (South Africa).

What are you working on?

I have various musical works that I am working on at the moment or that I have completed and will soon be released. Some of these musical works are for example tracks I’ve collaborated with the talented Over12 (Portugal) titled “EDEN” and another with Freddy Da Stupid (Mozambique) and Tina Ardor (Kenya) titled “MWENE NYAGA” as well as several remixes.

Where can people find your music: My music can be found on most digital music stores such as Traxsource, iTunes, Spotify, Beatport, Bandcamp, Deezer, Soundcloud, YouTube and many others. You can access all the above sources through this link

What advice would you give to anyone trying to make it in the music industry?

  1. Cultivate copious amounts of patience: In this industry, patience is the currency that keeps one sane
  2. Don’t trust every Tom, Dick and Harry: Some characters have ulterior motives as to why they would like to work with you or be your friend. Choose your friends and acquaintances wisely as a poor choice will come back to haunt you one day. For me, this principle should be a cornerstone for anyone who desires a fruitful career in this industry.
  3. Legal and due diligence: Never engage or commit to projects/gigs in the absence of legal paperwork outlining terms, conditions and expectations.I have learned the hard way, banking excruciating lessons along the way
  4. Have a manager: Sometimes as a musical creature one can suffer from bouts of “self blindness”, whereby they fail to note flaws in the way they do things or in the things that they fail to do. Other times one is unable to make sound decisions and having a manager can be a game changer.

AfrikaBurn-Africa’s version of Burning Man

Mutant Vehicle by Chris Legatt

As the only official regional Burning Man event in Africa, AfrikaBurn continues to draw people from all walks of life and has been doing so since its initiation in 2007. The festival brings over 13,000 people together annually, making it the biggest arts festival in Africa. Each year has a theme that inspires the art installations set up onsite.

Afro-tunes had the pleasure of speaking with Travis Lyle from the festival to understand the story behind its origination.

Before we go on, subscribe to the weekly News letter, share the post with your friends, leave a comment and connect with me on IG ! Now lets get into it.

Afro-tunes: Tell me about your involvement with AfrikaBurn, what do you do at the festival?

Travis Lyle: I am the head of communications. My role ranges from looking after our media channels which include our website, social media, radio, to managing documentary projects. Recently I have started managing the communications for a community outreach program called the dignity project.

This is a program where we took toilets that were to be used in the festival this year back to Cape Town for homeless people to use during lock down. As you can imagine, it’s a bit hard to wash your hands and stay safe when you don’t have running water, so we have managed to make a difference.

AT: That’s great and how long have you been involved in AfrikaBurn?

TL: I have been with the festival for 6 happy years.

AT: Interesting, so what did you do before you joined AfrikaBurn?

TL: I started out organizing events in 1999 while simultaneously working in advertising as a copy writer. As things started to change, I moved into community management, content management and social media management around 2008/9.

AT: Ok, so you had you had side hustles and a main job.

TL: That’s right. It has enabled me to gain the right combination of skills that I need to do my current job, which I absolutely love.

AT: What is the difference between Burning Man and AfrikaBurn?

TL: Burning Man started in the US in 1990 and it is a big event that takes place in Nevada desert. AfrikaBurn is essentially a regional version of Burning Man. That means that we follow the same framework and principles from Burning Man.

AT: What inspired the start of a regional Burning Man?

TL: It was a culmination of two factors which helped us decide. 1 – South Africa has a history of holding outdoor art festivals. 2-There were people in that festival community who had been to Burning Man in the USA, enjoyed it and simply wanted to bring that experience to South Africa. When these guys came back from Burning Man in Nevada desert they discussed how they could make it happen in South Africa. These discussions started in 2005 followed by finding the event location in 2007.

Photo by Migal Van

AT: You hold the festival in Stonehenge Private Reserve in the Tankwa Karoo. How far is that from Cape Town?

TL: A lot of people don’t know about this place. It’s a desert in the Northern Cape province of South Africa. The event location is around 350 km away from Cape Town and has no electricity, water and phone signals, so the experience can be very extreme for someone that is not prepared.

AT: Is AfrikaBurn a 1-day festival or does it occur on multiple days?

TL: Ticket holders can attend the event for a week period. However, our crew and some of the artists making pieces for the show can be in the desert for up to 2-3 months.

Given that we have to build everything from scratch, there is a big logistic exercise to transport a lot of materials to the desert.

AT: Do you provide accommodation for attendees and participants?

TL: No, we only provide the bare essentials such as onsite clinic, toilets, streets and street Lights and water. Attendees have to bring their own tents and anything else they feel they will need during those 7 days. We do provide a survival guide to attendees several months before the festival to prepare them

Photo by Jonx Pillemer

AT: Does the festival organisation have any community outreach programs?

TL: We have a range of social development initiatives which stem from AfrikaBurn principles of ‘civic responsibility’ and ‘communal effort’.

A percentage of the ticket sales are used to assist communities in need. This assistance can take the form of providing food to local schools.

We also give out seed funding for community art projects through our ‘Spark Grants’. The art projects selected for this grant are required to bring the principles of our event alive in their local area. The grant is usually 5000+ Rands depending on the size of the project. There is also the Dignity Project which I mentioned earlier.

AT: How has the festival dealt cancellations and lock downs due to COVID-19? Do you plan on changing the way you do your event?

TL: : To keep the community alive we’ve been hosting online events, in fact, we have one coming up soon on July 4th.

AT: Thanks so much for that TL. I leave you with this short video on the festival

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Artist Spotlight

Siphe Tebeka

Profession: Music producer and DJ

From: South Africa

Music genre: Afro House and Afro Techno

How did you get into music?

It all started in 2007 when a friend introduced me to Fruity Loops. It’s a music production software used to compose, arrange, record, edit, mix and master music. I loved making music, so I continued to teach myself how to use the software and now I produce music.

A few years later in 2012, I went along to CTEMF Connect program meeting with a friend of mine. I knew it was a program that would help me learn about branding and potentially showcase my music to a larger audience so I was keen to get involved. During the program we created Stab virus and the rest is history. We have been making Techno music and DJing at various events as a group and individually since then.

Where have you performed?

I am a resident DJ at Reset Night club in Cape Town. I have also played at Sexy Groovy Love festival, Bazique festival, Tomorrow Land Festival, Awakenings, Plett Rage and ADE festivals

What are you working on? I am working on an EP with Stab Virus which will be released at the end of July.

Where can people find your music: They can visit and subscribe to my YouTube channel

Cape Town Electronic Music Festival

CTEMF 2019

Established in 2012 as a platform for South Africa’s burgeoning Electronic and house music culture, the Cape Town Electronic Music Festival is one of the most exciting and inclusive boutique music festivals in Africa.

Afro-tunes had the pleasure of speaking with CTEMF founder David Ireton about the inspiration behind the festival, it’s Non-profit foundation for aspiring musicians, producers and much more.

Before you go on, be sure to subscribe to the weekly News letter, share the post with your friends, leave a comment and connect with me on IG ! Now let’s get into the conversation with David

Afro-tunes: Tell us about the inspiration behind Cape Town Electronic Music Festival

David Ireton: It all started with the 2010 football world cup in South Africa. I wanted to launch a festival to serve all the tourists that came to see the world cup, so I organised a day party. Afterwards my CTEMF partners approached me with a vision for something similar but on a bigger scale. That was the beginning of CTEMF.

I had been to sonar in Barcelona earlier in the year and was inspired by how the city of Barcelona supports Sonar festival. So, we tried to do the same with CTEMF.

We wanted to create a South African festival of international standards that the government or department of arts and culture could support. A festival that would truly showcase African talent, become internationally recognized and enable our local artists to be seen by the rest of the world.

AT: Straight off the bat your mission sounds amazing. You are willing to put these artists on an international stage, where no one else was. Have you or did you feel that you got the support you needed from the South African government?

DI: No. It was really tough. We managed to get the department of arts and culture on board but only for one year. The only way we could do this was by including a Non-Profit aspect that participated in community work. This was inline with our objectives so was not a problem. We launched the Cape Electronic Music Foundation and through that we have a program called CTEMF Connect where I mentor 5-6 artists for a year and help up-skill them.

I get a bit frustrated with South Africa because there are a lot of non-profit organisations but you don’t really see the work they do or changes they make. I actively participate in CTEMF connect to make sure that artists get the most out of it. 

As a result, we have made a difference and discovered some really talented artists who have continued to do great things. I am proud of the work we’ve done and continue to do with CTEMF connect.

AT: Ok, so where do you get your funding from now?

DI: Now it’s all from sponsors.For example, we have had red bull as our key sponsor since the festival’s inception and helped us to develop our festival concept. This headline sponsorship has allowed us to work with some big international artists.

AT: Going back to CTEMF connect, is that something that runs alongside the festival or does it operate a separate entity entirely?

DI: Its operated alongside the festival. The artists go through an intense 1-month mentoring program. Following this period, they have an open line with me for a year and at the end of that year, if we see significant development in them, we’ll put them on our festival stage.

The support doesn’t stop there, for example, we’ve placed some of our CTEMF connect alumni to perform at other festivals like Bazique festival and Lighthouse Festival South Africa.

AT: What time of the year does CTEMF take place and will it be happening this year?

DI: In the previous years we’ve held the festival during South Africa festival season which runs from November to April. However, there were so many other competing festivals, which would have required us to obtain big headline acts in order to continue as an organisation. To keep the festival alive, we had to wind it down, restructure and focus on our core market. This meant having an all local line up (only South African Artists).

This year the festival was going to take place in June, which is South African winter. However, that has been affected by Covid-19. We are waiting it out to see what happens with this situation.

We have a plan for an online live event, where our artists will perform at Red Bull studios but we don’t feel this will be enough. If we are not able to work out a way of how we can make our live event experience unique, I don’t think we’ll have festival. We wouldn’t want to compromise on quality

AT: So, for some of our audience that might not be familiar with the underground electronic and house music scene in South Africa, who would you say are your favorite artist?

DI: My favorite local House music artists are Culoe De Song, Kusasa, FKA mash, Black Coffee, Enoo Napa, Shimza, Pierre Johnson, Jullian Gomes and Da Capo

Here are YouTube videos of these artists:

Culoe De Song
Enoo Napa
Pierre Johnson
Jullian Gomes
Da Capo

Techno is a growing genre in South Africa, which I, as a Techno DJ have been trying to grow for the last 5 years. For example a success story of CTEMF connect within Techno is stab virus. They were part of the program 5 years ago and have developed to go on and play at events like ADE in Amsterdam


Another success story from South Africa is FAKA, who curated the last Versace’s 2019 fashion show


If you enjoyed reading this post, share it with your friends and leave a comment. If you are a South Africa based House, Techno or electronic music musician or producer and are interested in getting on to CTEMF connect program leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you!

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Koroga Festival

Sauti sol at Koroga festival

Koroga festival is a Kenyan Festival that takes place every two months. This year (2020) celebrations and artists performances were held at Hell’s gate national park but festival locations do change from month to month. Due to government imposed lock down in Kenya, the May installation of Koroga festival was moved online. Fans were able to attend via live streams on Youtube, facebook and Instagram.

By the way, you can follow me on Instagram on @lailah256 to be the first to find out about new post, festival dates and other giveaways.

Here is a taste of what you can expect when you go to Koroga Festival:

Koroga festival February 2020

Koroga festival is a celebration of African music, food art and fashion. It’s a great reflection of Kenya’s diverse local talent and it also attracts leading artists from all over the world! The list of artist performing in February this year ranged from global superstar Diamond Platnumz to popular East African artists like Khaligraph Jones, Nadia Mukami, Octopizzo and Afrohouse duo dj – distruction boyz

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Share this post with your friends, family and colleagues if you found it interesting.

Tell me about festivals you have been to in Africa, what did you like about them? what didn’t you like about them by leaving a comment below?


Originating from the French Antilles of Guadeloupe and Martinique you’ll hear this music blasting during at carnival time.

Masqueraders at Guadaloupe Carnival

Zouk was originally sung in Creole language. The creole word ‘Zouke’ is from the French verb secouer, which loosely means ‘to party’ and was first used on the islands to refer to nightlong dance parties.  Initially, the term ‘miziki zouk’ was used as a collective label for the various types of Caribbean music played at such parties.

Zouk emerged as a music genre in 1979 and is a mixture of diverse styles of Carribean music, which include  Compas and cadence from Haiti, beguine from Martinique and Guadeloupe and cadence-lypso, a hybrid of Haitian cadence  and Trinidadian calypso.

Kassav, a band from Guadeloupe was the early pioneers of zouk music

Kassav hit song – Zouk La Se Sel Medikaman Nou Ni

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Within the French Antillean Creole speaking population, zouk emerged as an emblem of cultural pride owing first and foremost to the music’s use of Creole lyrics. By projecting the unofficial common tongue of the region in a modern and cosmopolitan musical setting, zouk appealed to the ideology of créolité (“creole-ness”), a concurrent literary and cultural movement that strove to recognize the language and culture of the French Antilles as legitimate hybrids, both related to and distinct from their predominantly African and European (particularly French) parent cultures.

Substyles of zouk have since developed, such as ‘zouk love’ with romantic themes and slow tempi, which made its way to Ivory Coast in North Africa.

Moreover, as zouk became more cosmopolitan, lyrics came to be sung in French rather than Creole. In other words, while zouk succeeded in putting the French Antilles on the world music map, it sacrificed some elements of its “creole-ness” for the sake of such global accessibility. Enjoy discovering zouk music!


The legend that is Kassav

Toofan ft Jacob Desvarieux & Kassav – OU LE:

Tongolese band Toofan remix Ou le

Kizomba Music

You may have heard of the dance style of Kizomba but did you know that it’s also a music genre? Do you know the origins of this sensual, melodic music?

Don’t worry if you don’t because I am here to help you with that!

Kizomba music originates from Angola. The word ‘Kizomba’ means dance in Kimbundu, a Bantu language spoken in Angola. Normally sang in Portuguese, Kizomba tends to have a slow, insistent and sensuous rhythm. Although it’s origins are attributed to Angola, many Lusophone African countries (Portuguese-speaking African countries) were also influenced by this music leading to a production of variations of Kizomba music and artists from countries such as Cape Verde, Brazil, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Sao Tome and Principe and Equatorial Guinea (since 2011).

What we know today as Kizomba is the fusion of traditional Semba music with Zouk music. In-fact in Angola, there is difference between the Kizomba and Semba dance. However, both visually and in its development, the music Kizomba and Semba are totally different. Kizomba music and dance have long been in Angola, Portugal and Cape Verde but they have spread various countries such as Spain, France, Belgium, England and even China.

My introduction to Kizomba music was back in 2013 at a Kizomba dance class, where our teacher was taking us through the 3 basic moves of kizomba to the sound of Kaysha’s cover of ‘Drunk in Love’ by Beyonce.

Let me know what you think about this post. Maybe you have some Kizomba artists that you want to introduce me to? Tell me about your next destination Kizomba festival. If you want to find out about new posts, follow me on Instagram on @lailah256.

Here are some more Kizomba artists that I love listening to:

Nelson Frietas from Cape Verde:

C4 Pedro from Angola:

Don Kikas from Angola: Slightly faster pace than the above but still just as sensual

Covid-19 and the Music Industry

The Corona virus Pandemic has caused clausal damage for a lot of industries such as travel and tourism. For example, we’ve witnessed it taking its first corporate casualty in the form of Flybe air-lines. Unfortunately, the music industry is not and has not been exempt from this damage.

 For a music lover like me, who enjoys travelling for live concerts/festivals, this is devastating. For me (and maybe for many of you out there) this is upsetting on two fronts. Firstly, for the fans and secondly for the artists and everyone else working in the background to make these events possible.

As you know this blog is all about African music (new and old), from Africa and the diaspora. Therefore, it’s only right’s we consider the impact that this pandemic is having on this group.


Despite growing popularity of African music genres such as Afro-beats, Afro-pop, Bongo flava etc, many artists struggle to achieve financial success from their music.

“As a musician this is a difficult time as we make most of our income from live performances. But everything is currently on lock down in Uganda”

from Azawi

The main source of income for most musicians is through live performances and endorsements. Almost all performances have been cancelled due to government enforced lock downs, while endorsements are usually only offered to the bigger artists who’s music has crossed over and is well known in the ‘Western World’.

This is clearly a dyer situation, especially for those artists that are not as well-known. I feel like soon we may wake up to find that Corona virus has claimed yet another industry in the form African music and therefore African musicians’ livelihoods.

This Is How You Can Support the African Music Industry

I reached out to some artists to find out what we as fans can do to help them and the industry during these testing times and here is what they said:

“These are testing times and the best thing that fans can do for us is to continue to stream our music, introduce others to our music and of course stay safe. This is difficult is a difficult time but God will help us through”

from Azawi

“Continue to listen, dance and workout to our music”

from Eddy Kenzo

“Let’s pray for Uganda and all Ugandans. This situation is very sad indeed and I wish that I was able to help everyone.”

from King Saha

Leave a comment and if you want to find out about new posts, follow me on Instagram on @lailah256. I leave you with this song from King Saha called “Golola Ekkubo” asking God to help us through this pandemic

Bongo Flava Music

Bongo flava music is the nick name given to Tanzanian music. Bongo is the plural from Swahili word ubongo, meaning brain and is common nick name used to refer to Dar El Salam in Tanzania, where the genre originates. This style of music combines American Hip hop with traditional Tanzanian styles such as taarab and dansi.


Bongo flava was developed in the 1990s and forms a unique style of music with lyrics usually in Swahili or English. In the early days of this genre, Tanzanian artists would rap in Swahili over an American Hip hop style beat. They used this as a platform to educate listeners about social issues they need to eliminate e.g. drugs, robber, prostitution and to challenge authorities about social issues. for example, the track Kaka Suma by Nash Mc is banned by the Tanzanian Communication Regulatory Authority (TCRA).

If you’ve enjoyed learning about bongo flava music, leave a comment and follow me on Instagram

Some bongo music artists to check out:

Diamond Platnumz – Nana

Alikiba – Mwana

T.I.D – Kiuno

5 Afro-Beats festivals you must attend in 2020/21

If you love Afro-pop music, like us then you’ll want to know which are the hottest festivals to checkout this year. These festivals are sure to let your soul feel free enough to shaku shaku or do any other dance of your choice. Here are the best festivals for that vibe

people standing in front of stage
Photo by ELEVATE on

1. Afrochella, Accra Ghana 26th December 2020 – 1st Jan 2021

This is more than just a music festival, it’s a cultural experience. Afrochella highlights and elevates thrilling and thriving young talent from and within Africa. This is one of the interactive events that takes over Accra in December. It encourages collaboration, explains and explores cultures with a pioneering approach. The festival features a festive celebration of ALL African cultures in the form of Art, Fashion, Cuisine and most of all over 50 live music performances .

2. TINA festival, Accra Ghana 2021

TINA (This Is New Africa) festival is sure to start your year in a style and high energy. TINA Festival is the brain child of Afro-beats artist Fuse ODG. Launched in January 2019, this festival is an amazing display of Afrobeats music and culture that reflects the beauty and power of young Africans in Africa and from the Diaspora. This 3 day festival includes the biggest Kente Party as well as performances from top musician from throughout the diaspora such as Sarkodie, DBanj, Stefflon Don, Lethal Bizzle and Skepta.

TINA usually takes place at the start of the year so look out for 2021 dates on the official TINA website

3. Nyege Nyege, Jinja Uganda 2020

In September 2020, you need to be in Uganda for Nyege Nyege festival. It’s a 4 day festival set in Jinja, Uganda and showcases new and exciting talent from East Africa. This is not your typical destination festival, set in a breath-taking forest on the shores of the source of the River Nile, it’s sure to give you a music experience like no other.

4. Afronation 2020

Afro-nation is slowly making it’s name as one of the biggest beach festival in Europe show casing Afro-beats, dancehall, bashment and hip hop music. With multiple dates during the year and locations, you have numerous chances to dance to your favorite Afro-beats artists. This year‘s summer fixture will take place 17th – 19th July in Portugal and December will see the festival make it’s first appearance in Puerto Rico.

Photo by Rahul on

5. Sauti za Busara, Zanzibar, Tanzania 2021

Sauti za Busara is set in beautiful stone town. This is a 4 day festival that showcases music talent from all over East Africa. The festival includes 44 shows (with over 100 musicians), a carnival parade, jam sessions and more! You surely won’t be disappointed. Be sure to keep a look out for February 2021 dates.

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