10 Questions with Melafrique

September 16, 2020
Category: Blog Posts

10 Questions with Melafrique

Since 2016, Edmonton band Melafrique has been a fixture on Edmonton’s music scene. Their Afro-fusion sound blends together jazz, R&B and neo soul to create music that makes you feel good to your core. Ahead of their September 25 Downtown Live performance at The Starlite Room, we talked to band member Riwo Egor about how their making their mark in Edmonton and memories of past performances.

DBA: Any new hobbies you picked up during COVID?
Riwo Egor: Personally, and I was doing this before COVID, I’ve been cooking for myself more and trying to get better at that. As a band, we started diving into all the online platforms and learning about how to assert our presence online. It wasn’t something we had to worry about before so it’s been interesting to explore that.

DBA: Have you discovered any new music or artists in the past six months?
RE: I really got into afro beats, which is funny because I’m Nigerian so I think I should know more. But I did start listening to more of that genre, and I discovered Fireboy DML who’s also a Nigerian artist. The whole genre is so soulful and it’s really cool in general. As a band, a few of us really like Masego. He’s from the U.S., super interesting guy. He plays every instrument in his music and has a cool voice too.

DBA: Did you have any touring or travel plans cancelled?
RE: Well, we had a show in Regina for their Folkfest, and that got cancelled. That’s the big one I can remember. We didn’t have any plans to tour, but we had another show in Calgary that was also cancelled.

DBA: Is there a venue or event you’d like to play?
RE: Locally, Jazz Fest would be amazing to play in. The Sewing Machine Factory on the southside is another one. I was told about it a year after I moved to Canada and it’s always been on my list now. Yardbird is another one that I think would be cool to play in.

DBA: If you had a chance to play internationally where would you want to go?
RE: I’d love to play somewhere in New York. I’m not very familiar with the city but anywhere there would be amazing, or in LA. Once you make it there, you can make it anywhere. And of course, I’d love to play back home, and in different countries in Africa.

DBA: What is the fondest memory you or the band have from a live performance?
RE: There’s a song we have called “Not Alone.” I wrote it and the first time I saw people in the front row crying while I was performing was surreal. I can’t explain how it felt seeing that my words and my voice were so powerful.

As a group, and this happens quite often actually, when we don’t plan something and it just spontaneously comes together really well. It’s amazing. For example, we won’t plan to end a song a certain way but everyone just kind of syncs up and plays the same chord. It super cool to have those experiences.

DBA: If you could perform with any artist, dead or alive, who would it be?
RE: For the band, the first one I can think of is Sauti Sol. They’re a Kenyan band and their style is very similar to us. For me, it’s Jill Scott. If I got to perform with her, I would lose my mind! She’s been a favourite artist of mine for a long time.

DBA: Do you have any pre-show rituals or superstitions you can share with us?
RE: Well right before every show we go through the entire set in our heads. Each musician plays their instrument with their mouth and we just sing through all the songs with no instruments or microphones. Basically, we try to go through the entire set in about 20 minutes.

DBA: If you could give your 16-year-old self one piece of advice about being a musician what would it be?
R: Stop worrying too much about how it’s going to happen and just enjoy it. I think I used to worry a lot about how I was going to do music because I didn’t know how it would all happen. Just keep going and stop worrying about it.

DBA: Do you have any predictions for the future of the music industry with the impact COVID has had?
RE: I’m actually excited to see how things change. I feel like online platforms are going to be utilized more and going to change in a way we don’t expect. I imagine new platforms coming up where artists can have a full live show with lights and all the dramatics, but strictly online and can be streamed around the world. And that would go beyond Instagram or Facebook and social media channels like them. I think COVID had really showed us that things can change at any point and we need to be ready to change with it.

DBA: Because of COVID, how many days have you gone without performing in front of a live audience, or, how was your first live performance since restrictions have been eased?
RE: I think we went about two full months without a show. Everything got shut down literally the day before we had a live show. So, since then we’ve had one live show in June and for me it was really weird because we were performing for just a camera. I really enjoy feeding from the audience and interacting with them with my eyes and body language, so it was weird but also interesting. I was hoping that people were feeling the music as if they were there. But it was still great to be with my band members, we have really good chemistry on stage so I just tried to focus on that and not the fact that I was performing to a camera.

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