This Saturday Zambian born musician, producer and singer-songwriter Ccippo (pronounced she-po) will be bringing his amazing 'The African Music Experience' show to the Joan Knight Studio at Perth Theatre. I met up with Ccippo in Blend coffee shop to have a chat about his music, life and plans for the future. After a little bit of time messing around getting my audio recorder up and running and ordering a couple of lattes, we begin to talk about Ccippo's career in music.
'I started playing as a musician 15 years ago', he says, 'I’d play guitar and keyboards in the studio and occasionally I would be asked to play in live bands. I did that for about 3 years before I started to work on my own music. In 2006 I released my first album 'Zikoma', which means thank you in Nyanja (one of Zambia's main languages).'
Ccippo tells me that since then he has removed all traces of this album from streaming services. 'Listening to it made me cringe', he says. I tell him on the basis of the album's single, 'Call Me Superman', he may have made a mistake. It's a stonking slice of RnB pop, with an insistent, catchy vocal hook and an accompanying video that has a young, long-haired Ccippo strutting his stuff like a 1990's David McAlmont. 'Wherever I go, people seem to like that video', he admits.
I'm curious how Ccippo ended up with Perth as his base as the town isn't exactly a hub of Afrocentric music. 'I only moved to Scotland in 2010. My wife is part Zambian and part Scottish. When we got married, I came to Perth to visit. It’s been I came to Perth to visit. It's been nearly 10 years and I'm still visiting!almost 10 years and I’m still visiting.'
I'm always really interested in how musicians first get into music and where their influences come from. Music and storytelling were an ever-present part of Ccippo's childhood seeping into every aspect of his formative years.
'Zambia has a very rich folk tradition. My uncles on my mother's side were very musical and when I was growing up they would share stories around the fire and they would sing us folk songs. I wanted to pick up all those little elements from the music that I grew up listening to as a child and develop them into something brand new.'
I recently interviewed rapper Kobi Onyame who was born in Ghana and he told me about Afrobeat and Ghanian highlife and that sent me down a rabbit hole of African music. I'd read about Kalindula music online and I'm keen to ask Ccippo more about it.
'Kalindula is the oldest form of music in my country. The closest thing I can compare it to is salsa, except it is in mostly 4/4 or 6/8 time. It is very weird but very beautiful.'
We talk a little a bit about polyrhythm's, which is where two musicians can be playing in two separate time signatures at the same time. The concept seems terrifying to me but it is a fairly common occurrence in African music. 'A lot of African artists play by ear. It’s like a lot of these weird rhythms are embedded in our DNA, in our blood.' Ccippo tells me that it wasn't until he studied music at Zambia's Evelyn Hone College that he realised how sophisticated African music actually is.
As well as being an accomplished musician Ccippo is also a bit of a whizz in the studio too.
'I ran a music label in Zambia (G-Note Creations), and I would produce artists from all over Africa. For the past few years, I have been mainly focusing on my own career but I still find time to produce other African artists. With the world moving online that is becoming so much easier. With the software I use a guy can be in his studio, in say Poland, and I can be here in Perth and we can play and record together online with no lag.'
Ccippo put his production talents to good use on his current single 'I'll Follow You', a good vibe driven, sun-soaked hybrid of gospel, RnB and traditional African rhythms. Plus, he also has a new album on the verge of completion.
'The new album is nearly done. I have a home studio and I recorded it there The new album is nearly done... I'm trying to coincide the release with the concert on Saturday.and an amazing sound engineer called Dave McFarlane is in the process of mixing and mastering it. I used to mix and mastering my music myself but I think Dave can take my sound to the next level. I love his sound. I’m trying to coincide the release of the album with the concert on Saturday. I might miss it by a couple of days.'
I ask Ccippo what he has in store for the show on Saturday. He leans forward and a big smile sweeps across his face.
'My idea with The African Music Experience is to bring something fresh to Perth. I’ve travelled around the UK listening to what sounds are being created and have thought about how I can fit into that musical landscape. I discovered that no-one is really doing my type of music. The show will be indigenous African music but with a fusion of elements that will be familiar to the western world. A hint of Jazz, Reggae, Salsa and a bit of the blues. My Roots is in gospel music but I do love songs, socially conscious songs and folk songs.'
I tell Ccippo that I had seen some clips online of his last TAME show in Perth, including a great song called 'Heart On Fire' that he sings in Pidgin. 'I learned Pidgin in Nigeria. It is sort of like broken English but it sounds beautiful in music, so when I was in Nigeria I took lessons and got pretty fluent. Almost every sentence has an ‘O’ added to the end.' Ccippo tells me that the African sounds we hear on Saturday will come from all over the continent. 'I’ve travelled quite a bit around Africa and found myself incorporating different styles to create music that is entirely my own.’
Ccippo is a very collaborative musician who thrives on the input of others and this will be reflected in his live show: 'I’ve got a few guest singers and artists. I wanted to create a platform where some local artists can get some exposure. It’s good for Perth talent to experience African music and for me to be exposed to music that I’m not familiar with. Sarah Téibo is one of the finest RnB gospel singers I’ve ever heard. Her voice is just amazing.' The show will also feature rapper Terry Bling, also from Zambia, and local blues guitarist Dave Low. 'David is a phenomenal guitarist and songwriter, the world needs to hear his music.'
Tickets for The African Music Experience are selling fast you can get yours here.
Performing with Ccippo on Saturday will be:
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