Etuk Ubong interview
Nigerian trumpeter and vocalist Etuk Ubong combines fiery jazz, afrobeat and highlife with booming Ekombi drumming on his new album ‘Africa Today’.
Hailed by none other than Seun Kuti as “one of the best things to come out of Lagos”, Nigerian trumpeter, composer and bandleader Etuk Ubong has developed an original style he calls “Earth Music”.
It’s nice to have you. You have a brand new album out ‘Africa Today’ via Night Dreamer. Are you excited about it? How was to work on it?
Etuk Ubong: Yes, I’m very excited about my new album ‘Africa Today’, as it’s the introduction to my new genre of music “Earth Music”.
The making of the album, I must say was a great experience, we are in the digital age and recording my album Direct to Disc in just one seating was a great deal.
I consider the album ‘Africa Today’ as one of my foremost teachings of the Black education and history to the African minds and that of Humanity at large.
It reflects the happenings in Africa of yesterday and today. Politics in Africa has been centered around highly intense corruption and dehumanization of its citizens. Like it says in the music,
THEY KILL OUR PEOPLE
THEY BURN OUR HOUSE
THEY KILL OUR BUSINESS
THEY CLOSE OUR SCHOOLS
THEY LEAVE US HOMELESS AND FRUSTRATED
THEY LEAVE US WEEPING WITH CONFUSION
THEY LEAVE US ANGRY WITH STARVATION
AFRICA TODAY !!
What was the lineup of musicians that recorded it? What was the writing and arranging process like?
I find writing as a gift, I hardly crack my brain to compose any of my music. I’m always ready to receive as it comes.
Trumpet & Vocals: Etuk Ubong
Drums: Robin van Rhijn
Keys: Jack Stephens Oliver
Bass: Benson Itoe
Percussion: Mamour Seek
Percussion: Dra Diarra
Trumpet: Michael Awosogo
Trombone: Alba Pujals
Tenor Saxophone : Giovanni Cigui
Baritone Saxophone: Nicolò Ricci
Vocals: Bahghi Yemane
“I have absorbed different genres and styles”
Your music is packed with various influences. From afrobeat, highlife and jazz, to the ritualistic drumming of Ekombi. Would you like to comment on your technique? Give us some insights on developing your technique.
I have absorbed different genres and styles of music from highlife, jazz, afrobeat to the ritualistic drumming of Ekombi .All these sums up makes up Earth Music.
How about your previous release ‘Tales Of Life & Miracles’? How would you compare it to your latest release and what do you think is the main difference?
‘Tales Of Life & Miracles’ were recorded in 2016 and 2017, while I released ‘Black Debtors’ and ‘Collaboration of Doom’ in 2018, I will say that these were the end of my Jazz Era. The music evolved with ‘Black Debtors’ and ‘Collaboration of Doom’ as Earth Music, ‘Africa Today’ album sets the pace and also it’s the introduction of the new black coal Earth Music.
How do you usually approach music making? What’s your creative process?
It’s a gift, I’m always ready to receive it as it comes and when I need it, I get it right away, sincerely speaking I have the next set of albums ready to be released.
What would you say influenced you the most? Have influences changed during the years?
AFRICANISM, the need for the African people and the world at large to get the Black education and uphold it.
How important is improvisation for you?
Improvisation is important as it gives me room for a spontaneous interpretation and expression of the main form and body of the music.
How are you coping with the current world situation?
I’m basically utilizing the current situation of the world to listen to my innermost and reinvent myself.
I hope you’ll be able to tour again in the near future.
Yes we will get on the road as soon as we get a lead, we will be touring the UK and Europe extensively with my 12 man band from Lagos, Nigeria.
Let’s end this interview with some of your favourite albums. Have you found something new lately you would like to recommend to our readers?
Absolutely, ‘Africa Today’ by Etuk Ubong, Fela Kuti – ‘Why Black Man Dey Suffer’, Santrofi – ‘Alewa’.
Thank you. Last word is yours.