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Nyokabi Kariũki explores the sounds of Kenya with new EP

The Kenyan-born composer takes us to the happy places and memories of her home country using field recordings, experimental electronics and her own voice.

Composed with birdsongs, ethereal voices and no audible instruments, “Equator Song” perfectly sets the tone for Nyokabi Kariũki’s upcoming project peace places: kenyan memories. Each track on the EP will be based on a specific place in Kenya that had emotional significance in her upbringing, transporting listeners around the country using field recordings, kalimbas, experimental electronics, and languages including English, Kiswahili, Kikuyu, and Maa. 

The cover art, painted by Kenyan artist and childhood friend Naila Aroni, also has a particular significance concerning the themes of the project. “I love her art so much, so I asked her to paint 3 pieces based on some places the EP tracks featured for the cover art”, she tells us. […] “Then, I wanted to give back to Naila in a similar way : by asking her to send videos of her own ‘peace place’, and I created the final track around it. Her peace place was in Lamu on the Kenyan coast. It was fun because I had never been there before and it wasn’t my peace place at all. I was using the audio she gave me of her and her best friend walking down the beach. […] I think it was a perfect way of acknowledging the symbiosis between visual art and music in this EP”.

Nyokabi Kariũki lives between New York, Maryland and Nairobi. A classically trained pianist, she fuses classical and contemporary music, as well as the musical traditions of East Africa. She is also self-taught in traditional African instruments, especially the mbira. In 2020, she distinguished herself in the Recompose contest with the track “Fishermen (Sell Your Dreams)”, a recomposition of a song from Grammy Award-nominated producer Alev Lenz.

peace places: kenyan memories by Nyokabi Kariũki, out on February 25. 

Listen to “Equator Song” in our Songs of the Week playlist on Spotify and Deezer.

Equator song