We caught up with Laurence Taylor of Birmingham reggae-pop septet KIOKO to chat about their first ever headline tour (in association with Love Music Hate Racism) and upcoming single with rapper/comedian Doc Brown.
You’re hitting the road this Friday to start your UK tour, are you looking forward to it?
Absolutely! We’ve been lucky enough to have supported Lee “Scratch” Perry and Dub Pistols on tour as well as doing a bunch of festivals and one off shows all across the nation over the last couple of years. Now it’s like we’re reaping the rewards of being one of the busiest bands around and, having established fan bases across the country, we get to take our live show on the road for the first time as headliners. It’s definitely a big tick on the bucket list for all of us.
You’ve teamed up with Love Music Hate Racism for the tour, how did that come about?
We were approached by LMHR to headline a show earlier this year in our home town Birmingham. The night was a real blast; we were supported by a whole variety of up and coming artists, some of the best the Midlands has to offer that spanned genres and helped to create a real buzz in the room. I think everyone who attended and played left that evening feeling really positive about where we’re going as a society, so that was a great thing to be a part of – and to be asked to close the evening was a real honour.
Both the band and LMHR felt the magic that night and we discussed the idea of taking KIOKO on tour under the Love Music Hate Racism banner as a way of spreading our message and music to new audiences. We’re absolutely thrilled that the tour has come together and proud to carry the flag for LMHR across the nation.
How important is LMHR’s cause to you?
On an individual basis, a few members of our band have experienced the evils of racism first hand so this cause might be more important to us than any other. As a band we try to convey a message of positivity, inclusivity and open mindedness in not only our music but in everything we do. This obviously ties in nicely with what LMHR do, so the relationship between our band and the organisation has been very hand-in-glove.
Love Music Hate Racism can trace its origins all the way back to the Rock Against Racism movement of the 1970’s and throughout the years loads of our favourite British bands such as The Clash and Steel Pulse have been involved with anti-fascist and anti-racist campaigns so for us it’s a privilege to be involved. At the risk of sounding like a broken record we can’t stress enough what it means to be working with these guys!
You’re also donating your ticket sales to LMHR, was that a hard decision to make?
Not at all. Nobody in our band ever thought about making money the first time we picked up an instrument – we thought about making our own music and making a difference which is exactly what we’re doing by raising money for LMHR.
What can we expect from a KIOKO show?
In a word, ENERGY! As a band we’re always changing and pushing ourselves to write better songs and play them as well and authentically as possible, but one thing that’s always been consistent about KIOKO is a wild live show. The music we make is predominantly reggae and pop inspired but there’s really something in our live show for everybody, whether you’re in to deep dub grooves, music with a social message or catchy pop songs.
You’re releasing a new track with Doc Brown for this tour, what can you tell us about it?
Without giving everything away we can tell you that it’s a remix of one of our biggest songs. Doc’s verse is incredible; he obviously grasped the message of the tune instinctively and really helps to nail what we were trying to get across with the song. We can’t wait for you all to hear it, we’re sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised!
Will Doc be joining you on tour?
Well, Doc won’t be joining us on this tour because when we booked our the tour he already had other commitments with the BBC. Everything is good though as he is keen to work with us again in the studio and do live performances so we’ll be arranging that later in the year.
Finally, what does the rest of 2018 hold for KIOKO after the tour?
This year is going to be wicked! After the tour we will still be busy, we are already booked on to a handful of shows and festivals around the UK and Europe with more shows to announce. We will also be recording new material in the studio for releases to come later in the year!
Interviewer: Johnathan Ramsay