Jus B: We cross-over to New York City to chat to our beloved brother Kafele Bandele. Let’s get to know him better…
Jus B: Who is Kafele Bandele?
Jus B: You were born in Baltimore, Maryland and now reside in New York, but you have an African name. Tell us about that.
Kafele Bandele: Before I was born, My parents decided to change their names to African names. That is because they no longer wanted to carry on the tradition of holding onto the last names of the slave owners who once owned their ancestors here in America. So they picked names from different countries in Africa. They named all of their children African names as well. My first name is from Malwai, and it means “worth dying for.” My middle name, Kopano, comes from the South Africa/Botswana region and it means “unity,” or “togetherness.” And my last name comes from Nigeria and it means “born away from home.”
Jus B: Before we get to the music aspect, I just found out you are an actor*shocked*? When did you start acting?
Kafele Bandele: I picked up on acting a bit because I needed to shoot some music videos for myself. I do like acting and also the whole process of working with film footage. I also started to learn how to edit film in the process. Shooting and editing video can be very costly and time consuming, so I decided to learn how to do it myself as a way of cutting costs, but I found it to be very rewarding as well.
Jus B: You are known in South African as a trumpeter first and foremost. Do you come from a jazz background?
Kafele Bandele: I would have to say that jazz is definitely my biggest influence. When I was growing up, I was surrounded by jazz music because my father, although not a musician, is a huge jazz fanatic. He was always playing jazz records. In fact, his jazz collection is so big, that my mother asked him to start keeping some of his records outside of the house!! Although I was surrounded by jazz, I didn’t really start to appreciate it until I was about 11 years old. From there, I have grown a deep love and appreciation for jazz, and it has become my biggest influence. Also, because I grew up in Louisiana, I was able to listen to quite a few famous jazz musicians because they often played the local jazz clubs when they were not touring the world. Many of the worlds best jazz musicians come from Louisiana.
Jus B: How did you start with house music?
Kafele Bandele: When I finished college, I decided to move from Baton Rouge, Louisiana to Chicago. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the decision to relocate to Chicago would have a massive impact on my career as a musician. Many would argue that Chicago is the birthplace of house music. Before I moved to chicago, I barley knew what house music was. I had only heard some of the very popular commercial house music that was played on MTV. But when I got to Chicago, I was blown away by much of the house music that I heard. I had no idea that there was a movement of people creating this deep, soulful, jazzy music known as house. I became friends with quite a few DJs who introduced me to a whole new world of music that I did not even know existed. One of my DJ friends, I guy named Sean Alvarez, asked me if I wanted to play the trumpet along with him while he was spinning at an event that he was promoting. I agreed to do it, and immediately fell in love with the concept. Eventually, I started writing, producing, and recording my own house music. And working with other producers and DJs as well.
Jus B: Tell us about your involvement in the South African house music scene and who you have worked with.
Kafele Bandele: I have to give thanks to Ralf GUM and Andy Compton for turning me on to the house music scene in South Africa. I worked with Andy few years ago, and he introduced me to Ralf. The first track the I did with Ralf “Complicated” put me on the map in SA. From there, I met and worked with quite a few DJs and producer from South Africa and other places as well.
Jus B: Your current collaboration with Sir LSG and Brian Themba on the hit song ‘All I Am. How did that come about?
Kafele Bandele: Sir LSG started working with Ralf GUM at some point. He ended up doing a KILLER remix to the track “Burning Star.” I got a chance to meet up with Sir LSG when I was last touring in South Africa. We have been keeping in touch ever since, and he eventually reached out to me to work on the track “All I Am.” I am glad he did!! That song is definitely a super nice track, and I am glad to be a part of it. Stay tuned for some more collaborations between me and Sir LSG!!
Jus B: Over the years, what other previous songs were big hits in South Africa?
Kafele Bandele: To date, I think “Complicated” was my biggest hit (thanks, of course to Ralf GUM!!!). A few others have been “Stone Crazy,” “Believing (UPZ,Qness),” “Above The Sky (Andy Compoton),” and “It’s Over (Rocco),”
Jus B: What projects are you working on right now and what can we expect in 2015?
Kafele Bandele: I have been keeping pretty busy!! I am working on another one with Sir LSG. I just had a release with Ndinga Gaba and Groove Cartell (Botswana) called “Jewel in my Hand.” That is my newest single. I am also working with another Botswana DJ and producer named DJ Spax. We have a track called “Be My Lover” that we are finishing up. That one was done in collaboration with the Fearless Boys. Also, I just recorded with the house music legend Louie Vega. I will be featured on one of the songs on his upcoming album.
Jus B: Are you an independent artist or are you signed to a record label? Which one?
Kafele Bandele: I am an independent artist. I have worked with several indie labels, and also some major labels. But I am not signed to any label exclusively.
Jus B: Which South African producers have you worked with on your songs?
Kafele Bandele: I have worked with Nastee Nev, Qness, Thee Gobbs, Soul Agenda, and Rude Disco to name a few. Also, Lemon and Herb, and Eltonnick among others. And, of course, Sir LSG
Jus B: Which producers do you wish to collaborate with? From anywhere in the world…
Kafele Bandele: I absolutely LOVE Sade!!!! So I would definitely put the band Sweetback on the list. Out of SA, there are quite a few that I would like to work with as well. Culoe de Song, Black Coffee, and Black Motion to name a few. Also, there are several European producers that I would like to collaborate with as well, including Full Crate (from Full Crate and Mar). The list would be VERY long if I went through everyone. There are so many amazing producers out there. But these are a few that would be great to work with.
Jus B: Do you have siblings? How close are you?
Kafele Bandele: I have 2 brothers and 2 sisters. My two sisters and one of my brothers are older than me, but I also have a younger brother too. We are all pretty close in age. But we are all spread out in different regions in the US. My two brothers are in Louisana. One of my sisters is in Chicago, and the other one in California (San Fran area). And Here I am in New York City.
Jus B: Besides the trumpet, do you play any other instrument? If so, which one
Kafele Bandele: Besides trumpet, I play keyboard and sing.
Jus B: Any last words to your South Africa fans?
Kafele Bandele: I want to let my fans in South Africa know that I love them and really appreciate them. And I can’t wait to get back to South Africa again to perform live for them. Every time I have performed in SA, I can not believe how much love and positive energy that I feel from the people that come out to support. I can tell that they are true fans and that they appreciate what I do. And that means a lot to me. I am definitely planning on spending more time in South Africa, so be on the lookout!!
Thank you for time. Stay Blessed!!