Janka Nabay is the undisputed king of bubu, a frantically-paced dance music with ancient, magical origins in Sierra Leone. The Bubu Gang are the posse of musical collaborators he has hooked up with in the US (featuring members of Skeletons and Gang Gang Dance among others), to create a wild, high-octane juggernaut of call-and-response vocal interplay, juddering dancefloor rhythms, synths and guitars: throw in a taste for tearaway improvisation and you have an absolute blast of a sound, that keeps it quick, loose and natural and runs on pure musical joy. Ready to hit hard and true in full band format at festivals worldwide in 2012. An EP drops on True Panther Sounds in March before a full-length album on David Byrne’s Luaka Bop label later in the year.
Janka single-handedly radicalised bubu in his native Freetown, Sierra Leone in the nineties, adding drum machine kicks and twitching synths to its airy hum of blown bamboo shoots and carburetor pipes. Then he relocated to Philadelphia, and after a decade off the musical radar he found a Stateside vessel for his infectious music in True Panther Sounds, who released a well-received EP in 2010. This caught the well-tuned ears of the mostly Brooklyn-based players who would go on to make up the Bubu Gang, namely Doug Shaw (Gang Gang Dance, Highlife, White Magic), Jason McMahon & Jonathan Leland (Skeletons), Michael Gallope (Starring) and vocalist Boshra Al-Saadi: a series of sweatbox US shows followed, and all involved realized they had birthed something beyond the sum of its parts: “We speak one language now”, says Janka of these exciting new sounds, that draw as much from Janka’s own bubu as they do from the sunny energy of Ghanaian highlife, the extended improvisations of 70s Miles Davis, the hypnotic rhythms of classic Afro-beat and the swirling echoes of 60s and 70s psychedelia.
“In a potted history of Bubu music, the horn-fueled traditional sound of Sierra Leone, Janka Nabay’s arrival is the defining moment. There is the pre-Janka era, when bubu was played by five tribes in the country’s north and could only be heard on one holy day a year, during Ramadan. But in the post-Janka landscape, young people from Sierra Leone to Liberia are jamming bubu bangers in the club every weekend” – The Fader
“There was also an African apparition: Janka Nabay from Sierra Leone, wearing a straw skirt and singing and dancing to recorded tracks of what he said was a 500-year-old tradition called bubu music. The tracks were modern, and the beat, fast and skeletal and driven by bell taps, was unstoppable, demanding wider dissemination” - New York Times
No shows booked at the moment.