Santuri East Africa - Identity | Community | Innovation

From the blog

Santuri (So Far)

Santuri Safari 2014


As 2014 draws to a close it’s perhaps a good opportunity to reflect a little on what has been an incredible year for Santuri, and look ahead to even more exciting times ahead in 2015.

What can happen in a year

This time last year Santuri was still an idea being batted around by various cultural curators, artists, DJs and other activists in East Africa. 12 months later, we find ourselves in a strong and unique position, thanks to the support of a myriad of individuals, organizations and movements that have helped us on our way.

Widening the sonic palette

Santuri in an idea that focusses on concepts of innovation, collaboration and creativity within the East African music scene – a platform for experimentation, learning and expression for musicians, DJs, curators, and audio engineers. There was a feeling that the region was under-performing and under-representing its incredibly rich and diverse talent, often swamped by western-influenced, aspirational and highly commercial, throwaway sounds. Santuri tapped into this feeling of discontent by musicians and music lovers, and developed a series of events and projects over the course of the year to road test a concept – that through developing interesting collaborations, widening the sonic palette, and approaching the creation of music in a professional yet innovative way – new East African sounds would resonate around the region and much further beyond.

Rebooting expectations

We feel we are well on the way to proving that concept. 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 / Creatives Garage (Kenya), Santuri has run 5 hugely successful co-creation workshop / recording sessions throughout the year. The sessions focussed on putting regional artist together with highly regarded producers from around the globe, developing new music within highly charged creative environments. Often in makeshift, pop-up studios in unusual locations, the benefits of this approach has been numerous – from rebooting expectations of what is possible with minimal equipment, developing highly collaborative ways to build tracks, and integrating cutting-edge technology from our partners Ableton and Native Instruments in order to create DJ / club friendly tracks ready for testing to festival audiences that same day. What’s more, each event is a opportunity to build the skills and enhance the professionalism of participants and partners, leaving a legacy to build on.

Over 20 tracks in one year

At last count, we’ve produced over 20 original East African tracks and remixes under the Santuri banner, and many are receiving strong support from high profile tastemakers, DJs, record labels and websites around the world. In terms of global reach for new music, East Africa is definitely rising.

We’ve been honored to work with and learn from many exceptional artists from around the planet, including but not limited to Wunmi, Haja Madacascar, OY, Gebrueder Teichmann, Makadem, Sebunjo, Sarabi, Giovanni Kremer Kiyingi, Esa Williams, Ambrose Akula, Lulo Cafe, Tony Nwachukwu, DJ Zhao and many more. Our ever growing local network of DJs, producers and promoters have driven the concept forward – through the evolution of a regional party network that includes Hatari Voltage in Kampala, Santuri Society in Dar and Muthurukshion in Nairobi – and via blistering sets and remixes by the likes of H The Dj, Saint Evo the Myth, Nzech, Dark Meme, DJ Ivo, Dread Steppa, DJ Rachael, Mr Jake, and DJ Bad Cat, and many others.

Great partners

As we develop this network further, we welcome many new and unique East African voices into the community, diversifying into new musics and cultures as we go. In fact, thanks to the strong support of our partners such as HIVOS, we are heading into 2015 with an incredible range of projects lined up. Across the region we’ll be running more workshops, more studio sessions with new artists, more parties, and more festival appearances in more countries. Beyond that, we have a full schedule of official global releases lined up for various Santuri projects via our new label and its partners in Europe, the launch of our new website, as well as a hugely exciting project to develop locally built pro audio equipment for the east African market. What’s more, we’re developing live bands with the likes of Mim Sulieman, and creating opportunities to tour Santuri and East African artists in Europe, the UK and South Africa.

Trilled to have got this far

We are thrilled to have got this far, and can’t wait to enter the next phase of the journey. Needless to say, it’s only been possible and worthwhile because of the support and encouragement of so many people and organisations, and the dedication and drive of many we have worked with. With that in mind, we’d like to wish you all a happy holiday period and look forward to seeing you all again in the new year.

Best wishes from the Santuri Team

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