Santuri East Africa - Identity | Community | Innovation

About Santuri

About Santuri East Africa

Santuri East Africa is a registered non-profit arts organisation founded in 2014 and based in Nairobi, Kenya. It’s a platform that supports East African music producers, DJs, sound engineers and other music industry professionals. Primary activities include training in music production and DJing, workshops, collaborative recording projects, consultancy services, and events promoting and supporting East African artists in the region and internationally. It was founded by Gregg Mwendwa (KE) David Tinning (UK/DE). 

Introduction to SEMA


The organization is currently establishing the Santuri Electronic Music Academy (SEMA) – the natural extension to our influential music production workshops, training and residencies undertaken since 2014 across East Africa. Having now established a permanent studio / workshop space in Kilimani, Nairobi, with access to multiple areas for larger classroom and showcase activities, Santuri has the physical infrastructure, equipment, network of educators, experts / artists, and the experience to provide an entirely unique and impactful learning experience to our community of students. 

The SEMA programme seeks to develop and enhance skills within the realm of music production that provide tangible benefits in navigating new challenges, particularly those that have arisen from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Beginnings

Santuri started in 2014 as an initiative to address the fact that music from the East African region was under-performing on a global stage and under-representing its incredibly rich and diverse talent. Tapping into feelings of discontent by musicians and music lovers, Santuri and its collaborating partners developed a series of events and projects over the course of a year to  road-test a concept. Through developing interesting collaborations, widening the sonic palette, and approaching the creation and distribution of music in a professional yet innovative way, would new East African sounds resonate around the region and beyond?

Santuri’s core team is made up of individuals with extensive experience in music, cultural development, events organising, and arts management. Below details some of the key interactions the team undertook over the last 7 years. 

Festival collaborations and recordings  

Working with regional festival partners such as Sauti za Busara (Zanzibar), DOADOA East African Performing Arts Market (Uganda), Rift Valley Festival (Kenya), Bayimba (Uganda) and Sondeka (Kenya), Santuri ran successful co-creation workshop / recording sessions throughout 2014, 2015, and 2016. The sessions focussed on putting regional music makers together with renowned international producers to develop new music in highly-charged creative environments. 

Releases

The result of these sessions led to a string of critically-acclaimed and popular releases on world-renowned labels (Soundway, Sofrito, Highlife, On the Corner etc) which in turn augmented the careers of East African artists locally and internationally. The experiences gained from these releases also highlighted both the positives and negatives of various distribution models, from physical formats to digital streaming.

Femme Electronic

In 2016 Santuri worked with DJ Racheal and the Goethe Zentrum in Kampala to develop the concept of Femme Electronic, the first female DJ and producer platform in Africa. Shortly after, Santuri partnered with the Goethe-Institut Nairobi for a follow up project that ran a detailed training and practical project aimed at developing the DJ and production skills of female and non-binary artists in Kenya.  Some of the alumni of these projects have gone on to develop sustainable careers both regionally and internationally, and include Kampire, Coco Em, Monrhea, DJ Fluid, DJ Miss Ray, as well as supporting the first steps of KMRU.  

Aside from the above areas, Santuri maintains a crucial role within the electronic music landscape of East Africa. Over the past 3 years we have delivered: 

  1. Gearbox / gear loan projects

Santuri arranged and managed projects that distributed hardware and software for DJing, production and performance to individuals and collectives across the region. Organisations that have benefited from these projects include Nyege Nyege Festival (UG), Femme Electronic (UG and KE), Kilifi Festival, Distant Relatives, Stone Town Records (TZ), Nafasi Art Space (TZ), and  Afrogroov (RW), among others.  

  1. Online production training – entry level and masterclass 

In November 2020 Santuri produced two online courses in music production, utilizing our network of educators and artists from around the world. Supported by Music In Africa, the project took the form of Zoom webinars, with a hybrid closing event which involved people convening in the Santuri Studio in Nairobi while others joined online. The sessions were recorded and can be viewed here: 

Sim Sima entry production course:

Masterclass level: 

  1. In-person workshops and training – Santuri Studio     

Santuri has run over 15 separate workshops for producers from our studio space in Kilimani since the beginning of 2021. These have ranged from Ableton and Maschine basics, to live recording, electronics jam sessions, live looping performances and more. The workshops have been arranged and carried out by Santuri staff, and have led to further interactions entirely self-organised by the community of artists we have worked with. 

  1. Live streaming and festival curation    

Santuri curated and provided technical and artistic support for two online festivals this year, one for Common, the festival created by Currents.FM in February, and the other for Suoni per il Popolo Festival in Montreal in June. Duma, Kampire, Afrorack, and Labdi were among the artists who performed in Santuri-produced showcases.

  1. Research / thought leadership 


In 2020 Santuri undertook the most extensive survey of music producers and sound engineers yet undertaken in East Africa in partnership with the Berlin-based music technology company, Ableton. This survey interviewed over 250 producers, DJs, sound engineers, labels and music institutions, examining the education landscape for electronic music among other topics.