From Zambia with love

Mukuka logoThe unique authenticity of multiculturism

At the age of ten, he was saving up his lunch money to secretly buy rap tapes. A year later he began to write his own lyrics and rap instrumentals using music production software. In the summer of 2009, he built his own home studio in his bedroom, taking years to collect basic equipment that was not available in Zambia. He composed, recorded and mixed his first music album “Strange Tales” that summer and later in November he copyrighted and published it in Zambia. His release led to interviews on National Television and several radio stations, and a limited CD distribution. History topics dominated the lyrics of his songs while the music included intricate harmonies, melodies and some modulations, defining his unique style of rap and foreshadowing his musical explorations beyond rap music. 

Incantare Poster> “Incantare,” his second CD produced and published in his studio in 2010

> He was commissioned to write music for a stage production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet for which he used folk music and jazz elements in his score in 2011

> He formed his own band “Greek/Arabic/Jazz,” of which he was arranger, composer and manager. The band pioneered a fusion of Greek/Arabic, Classical and Jazz music in Zambia and was met with applause. 

> He started his studies at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, USA in 2012

> He released original music on both Ring Mode Records and No Ego Records, earning support from major electronic music producers such as Larry Tee (Ultra Music, USA) in early 2013

Eleftherios MukukaNext to these:  This August is leading a team of Berklee students to Zambia, to teach at the annual American International School of Lusaka Music Camp. He is also building a partnership between Berklee’s Jazz Revelation Records and Global Youth Groove, to donate music instruments and CD’s to the first and only music academy in Lusaka, where he is also planning a music workshop.

Talking with Eleftherios, even if it is online, it is easy to feel his positive and gentle aura. As the interview was taking place, I received a very vibrant feeling of his calmness and his modesty.

Eleftherios, you have a Greek name and a Zambian surname, you live in Boston where you study at the Berklee College of music. Tell us a few words about you.

Well my mother is Greek and my father is Zambian. Ironically, they met while they were studying at UC Berkeley and now I am studying at Berklee College of Music in Boston, pretty cool! I was born and raised in Lusaka, where I fell in love with music and my two very rich cultures. By growing up in the Greek community in Lusaka, it felt as though I was living in both Greece and Zambia simultaneously. I attended Greek school there, was an alter boy in the orthodox church and was part of the Greek youth dance group. I was just really involved in all aspects of Greek life in Zambia, which I loved dearly.

When I was in the Greek community it was as though I was in Greece, and then as soon as I stepped out of the Greek community I was back in Zambia. I must say, there is a small but strong Greek community in Zambia!

You are surrounded by very strong and interesting influences, from Greece, Zambia and of course USA where you study, how all these cultures are combined in your music ? Which elements do you take from each culture ?

I am only in my second year at the Berklee College of Music, so I have only been in the USA for about one and a half years now. My goal as a musician is to effectively express my cultural richness through my music, in various genres, in hope to spread joy, peace and love to the world. I am beginning to explore the fusion of Greek music with Zambian music in both classical and electronic music form.

What is the main difference in your opinion between the Greek and the Zambian music ?

I am working on taking melodic and harmonic elements from Greek music and fusing them with the rhythmic elements of Zambian music.However, this can go one step further by bringing Zambian melodic and harmonic elements into the picture. Southern African music is not just rhythmically interesting, but melodically and harmonically interesting too.

Greek and Zambian music are different in so many ways. This makes the fusion of the two very interesting and unique in my opinion.

Mukuka words

The latest years there is a cultural rising of Africa, especially in music and fashion industry, making actually the African style the new trend in the scene. How do you feel about that ?

Africa is coming up very fast! Zambia for example is growing rapidly. I believe that for many years African culture was unexposed to most of the world. People simply did not know what Africa was about. In the recent year however, more and more African artists have been able to share their music on the international scene. This has inspired many African and non-African musicians to delve into the exotic African folk music. I believe that the future of music is in fusion music: the fusion between world music and contemporary music.

People want excitement when they listen to music. Fusion music gives that excitement! Even in electronic music!

I agree to that. Its the new “trend” we could say, people , and i mean artists mainly , showing their need to experiment and work together with different cultures…

Absolutely!

 

Have you ever visited Greece ?

Yes many times! Especially Tsagarada, where my grandmother lives. My mother is from Kefalonia and Tsagarada (Mt. Pelion). I was also baptized in Greece when I was very young. I was in Greece last summer. I was visiting my grandmother and gave a solo electro-acoustic concert too!

That sounds very exciting! What was the feedback you got from this experience ?

The feedback was great! It was in Tsagarada and was such a lovely experience. I will definitely do many more!The concert was followed by an interview and short performance on Radio ERA Volos.

Any thoughts of moving to Greece for living and expanding your professional carreer ?

Yes for sure! I want to study Byzantine music, Greek traditional music and Rebetiko music in Greece. I want to learn the bouzuki too!

Qantara BerkleeI thought you were interested mainly in classical or electronical music. Do you plan to endorse byzantine and traditional instruments like Bouzouki in your music ?

Most definitely!! At Berklee I am part of an Arabic ensemble entitled “Qantara Berklee” led by maestro Simon Shaheen. Also, some of the musicians performing in the ensemble have worked with me in  a few of my original compositions . I love Arabic music too.

Lets get back to Greece. You said that you are planning to move to Greece , all this noise about the economical situation of the country doesn t scary you and hold you back from moving to Greece ?

Of course it does, very much, but I love Greece with all of my heart! Also, as a composer I can live anywhere as long as I have made the right connections and know the business side of the music industry well. Also, it is a must for me to study Greek music in Greece. I have to mention also that creativity in Greece never stops.

I know you are about to release a new musical piece. Would you like to talk about it ?

Sure. Well I just finished working on a song entitled “Heart” which I recently signed to the Swedish Clubstream Label Group. In this EDM (electronic dance music) song I incorporate Southern-African grooves with sweet melodies and harmonies. The song is uplifting too! It will be released sometime in May!

How do you see yourself in 5 years from now ?

In 5 years from now I see myself having graduated from the Berklee College of Music and living in Greece composing music, furthering my studies in music and already successful.

Do you have any message you would like to share with our readers ?

Yes, I would simply like to tell my fellow Greeks to be strong and have faith. Greece is undergoing very big challenges right now but our culture is forever strong and beautiful! Zito Ellada!

Thank you so much for the interview! it was so nice to talk with a young creative and openminded artist!

You are most welcome! It is my pleasure! I thank you so much for giving me this wonderful opportunity of being featured on your blog!

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1 thought on “From Zambia with love”

  1. […] The unique authenticity of multiculturism At the age of ten, he was saving up his lunch money to secretly buy rap tapes. A year later he began to write his own lyrics and rap instrumentals using music production software. In the summer of 2009, he built his own home studio in his bedroom, taking years … Continue reading » […]

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