Interview with Fulu Miziki a collective of artists with unique sounds and style

A Conversation with Fulu Miziki

Fulu Miziki is an eco-friendly afro futuristic punk music band based in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. This multidisciplinary collective group was founded by Pisko Crane joined by performing artists Aicha Mena Kanieba, Le Meilleur, DeBoul, La Roche, Padou, Sekelembele, and Tche Tche. Someone’s Trash is Someone’s Treasure: Fulu Miziki costumes, masks, and instruments are handmade 100% recycled. Their orchestra is made from objects found in the trash. Making their own performance costumes, masks and instruments are essential to their approach and musical ideology. Fulu Miziki constantly changing instruments, always in search of new sounds. Their creativity help to consider and see things in a new way. Fulu Miziki are raising more attention, responsibility, and awareness about recycling in the D.R.C.

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Can you tell us something about when you start to get into music? What motivated you? Where does your passion come from?

Being born in Kinshasa, it can be hard to explain when someone becomes a musician, we all grow up around music, and our capital city is the mother of music. In general, we used to listen to Congolese oldies music. Our families were playing it in our homes.

We are passionate about telling stories that matter to us, that’s why our songs are always about life in general, a little bit of activism, and educating the masses. 

What are your biggest influences as persons and as artists? What music do you listen to?

We all have different people who really influenced us, but we all listened so much to Pepe Kale, Franco Lwambo, Zaiko and later we discovered Michael Jackson, American hip hop music such as Naughty by Nature, and others of that generation. Currently, we are moved by anything that sounds great to our eyes. We listen from time to time to Congolese Rumba, Afrobeat, and we are into electronic music as well.

Some band members are also beat producers. 

 How did you meet and how did you understand that there was the right synergy to work together?

We are all from the same neighborhood in Kinshasa, it’s the hood that has brought some other Congolese stars, this place doesn’t sleep, always music in every shop, and this brought us together. We have known each for the past 20 years already, we have done a long journey.

We started with making Congolese Rumba, we moved into Hip Hop music, and then we saw how our environment needed some work, we started getting into collecting stuff and making instruments. 

Fulu Miziki turns trash and garbage into instruments, sounds, and music supporting an ecological and peaceful message, where humans have reconciled with mother earth and with themselves.

How the idea of the name “Fulu Miziki” came about? What is your music philosophy?

The name Fulu means Trash/Garbage, this name came when we were spending so much time collecting stuff from garbage and hunting for different sounds. We adopted it as our band name.

Our philosophy is simple, the liberation of the artist’s mind. 

Your costumes, masks, and instruments have a strong and powerful visual impact. Can you tell us how did your look come to life and how did you create an orchestra made from different materials that fit and match your sounds?

The costumes are made in the same way we make our instruments as well, there’s almost everything in the trash, you can find pieces of shirt, torn suitcases, some clothes people don’t use anymore. We just take them, we work on them and start putting each piece together, that’s how all our costumes don’t match. Because each artist collects for his own and makes his own costumes.

Collecting is just one part, we have to design as well and then everything has to be hand made. 

What were the biggest challenges at the beginning and what kept you motivated?

Honestly, we weren’t that happy being in the garbage all the time. Kinshasa is the country of sape (dressing elegant) each music is supposed to look super elegant.

But we had to change the narrative, create something unique for ourselves as our identity, which we did and now are fine. 

What are the ideas and stories behind your songs? What do you want to tell us about your music?

We sing about hustling, politics, human rights, and love. Those are the topics that we find interesting and can share a message with the audience. Each artist contributes to a song, with his instruments.

That’s the only way we can make something great when everyone is involved. 

From materials found in trash cans and dumps, Fulu Miziki create unique instruments and powerful costumes and masks proving that creativity can give a new life to everything

What are the main challenges you are facing when making new music songs? How long did it take you to a new music project? 

We can’t know how to say since when we started, as we were born into music, but it has just been 15 years of intense work that has brought this project to life. The only challenge is our instruments are from garbage, they break anytime when we are even on stage, but we have to replace them, which means even the sound of the music has to change automatically, and we have to adapt to it quickly. 

Can you share with us any meaningful story behind the scene of your work?

We are inspiring a big generation about recycling and using less plastic, it’s very important to us. W 

There is a universal rhythm in your sounds, but also fresh and new waves. What do you hope your audience would understand from your music?

That’s it’s time for something new, that we searched for years in order to bring them something and we hope they will enjoy it.

Photos courtesy of Fulu Miziki

Last Updated on May 14, 2024 by retrofuturista

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