Kasiva Mutua and all that Jazz

Kasiva Mutua [Facebook]

During the International Jazz Day celebrations a few weeks ago, we caught up with musician and drummer Kasiva Mutua. 

On a scale of 1-10, how can you rate your performance?

Kasiva Mutua: Why out of 10? We are at 72! (chuckles as she answers)

How are you feeling today?

I am good. I am very happy to be at Afrolect Jazz Fest and the night is so lit. It is a very good space to relax, take in music, learn from other musicians and hang out with my friends.

There are notions that Jazz is for rich or high-end people. 

I think Jazz used to be perceived like that before. However, Jazz is morphing into music (like you heard in my performance) with more traditional fusion. Jazz is what you perceive it as. There is also the standard Jazz where there are saxophones, and drums being played. As time goes on, Jazz is morphing and evolving.

You said somewhere you learnt how to play drums from your grandmother. Is it true?

Yes, I was inspired by the stories she used to tell me as a child and now I am playing my vijikos and sufurias (drums.)

How did that build or mould you to be who you are right now?

Those stories and learnings that I had as a child opened up my ear to keen listening of the sounds from my environment. Because of this, I can compose a rhythm based on sounds from my environment and existing rhythms and cultures that I interact with while I travel. Think of it as the pizza-making analogy. When we are making a pizza, the foundation is the environment and in this case, it is the bread. The cheese is the cultures that inspire me, the tomatoes are my friends, the olives are this and that and it becomes one beautiful pizza.

You released an EP, how has the reception been?

I have received mixed reactions really because it is a one-of-a-kind EP. It is a rhythm and percussion EP, which means primarily that percussion instruments are on there. This is a very short EP (15 minutes.) It is called Ngewa which is Kamba for stories. These are stories from my childhood, interactions I have had with people, and stories about their cultures but expressed in rhythms. The EP has five or six tracks and I am morphing into an independent solo artiste. I am working on an album which I am releasing by the end of this year. The name is still exclusive and you can follow me on my socials at Kasiva Mutua on Instagram.

I read somewhere that when it comes to your music, you incorporate Hip Hop and RnB together with Jazz. Which genre of music have you settled on? Is it Jazz?

My identity is African Traditional Fusion. This is music that has the foundation as African traditional music but it is now influenced by other things. When you listen to my music, you do not hear any Western influence. You hear the continent first, then the western later. It is simply African traditional music plus Jazz plus reggae plus blues. All these fusions describe who I am.


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