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Interview | Sef Kombo and Kitty Amor talk Afro House

Leading proponents of the Afro-Tech movement speak music, whitewashing and fronting Sondela Recordings.

After enjoying a mid-summer run at Bora Bora Beach Club alongside Louie Dunmore and Sondela's roster of artists, Sef Kombo and Kitty Amor are back on the island this week.

On Wednesday 21 September, they play back-to-back as guests of THEMBA presents Colours at Club Chinois.

Earlier this summer, we spoke to Sef and Kitty following their gig at Defected.

Leading proponents of the increasingly popular Afro House movement, we were keen to learn more about the visibility of music from Africa, who we should be keeping our eye on and what the industry could do better in elevating Black artists.

Image by La Skimal

Is this the first time playing on Ibiza for both you?

Sef Kombo (SK): "This is my first time playing in Ibiza, yes."

Kitty Amor (KA): "I played at Amsterdam Bar in the West End back in 2018, but this is the first real club here."

For those that aren't familiar with the Afro House movement, can you talk about its rise and what part you guys have played?

SK: "There are so many different styles of music within the genre that are representative of people's, you know, lifestyles, how they've grown up and especially the area that they live."

You guys are London-based. Would you say that has had an influence on how you produce new music?

SK: "I grew up in Brixton, so lots of Caribbean influence for me, but being Tanzanian, I guess my objective is to support and push music from my continent. Being someone that been back to the Motherland many times in my life, I feel a deeper connection to it. It makes sense to push music from that region."

Images by La Skimal

You both represent Sondela, which is a sub-label of the Defected family. How heavily involved are you both?

KA: "Sef is an A&R for the label alongside Louie Dunmore and I'm kind of like the co-signer, supporter of the label. The relationship I have with Sef has enabled me to back Sondela as much as possible really. I also work for DJ Mag outside of Defected as well."

What do you have coming up on the label this summer? Any exciting producers you've signed?

KA: "Our big summer release is from FKA Mash and Sio who are both based in South Africa. We're really excited about the record. It's a cross over within the music landscape. It's not so much a club anthem, but a track that can be played on radio, in DJ sets."

SK: "It has an amazing vocal and the beat is great. I'm learning A&R in the label - what sticks and what doesn't, but I'm confident this will be a huge release for us."

As an industry, what can we do to avoid whitewashing Black music?

KA: "Authentic representation is important. There are key people that have been part of the sound for many years and I think it's important to have those individuals play a part within the growth of the sound itself.

Not necessarily just relying on one figurehead for the whole sound. It's a whole community where everyone plays an important parts to make it even possible. I think it's really important there is always an involvement of those individuals who have contributed to the growth of Afro House.

To avoid whitewashing, we need to think beyond the present moment of where the sound is. It's more than about what's happening right now."

Absolutely. What names influenced you growing up?

KA: "For me, it's Culoe De Song, Da Capo, Black Coffee, Shimza, Manoo - there's so many that have been the bedrock to the sound. Our role as DJs has been to promote the origins of the music as well as show how far it has come thus far."

"There's been a rapid growth of women who are making moves too. In the last two or three years, we've seen Desiree in South Africa, CinCity in Amsterdam, Jamiie in Berlin and Thandi Draai in South Africa too.

There's lot of women really doing their thing. It's great to see. Before there were few and far between, but now it seems as though, no one is really clasping onto the whole female DJ tag. They understand now that we're more than capable of being one."

How is the clubbing scene developing in African countries? Do you play there often?

KA: "It's coming on majorly!"

SK: "I think it’s already there, it's just something people haven't really discovered or know much about. I've been playing in South Africa for four years now. I've developed good relationships.

The clubbing scene is strong in emerging cities, like Nairobi, Lagos and as well as in Ghana a little bit. It just needs building. In terms of clubbing, Namibia is good, Botswana is good, South Africa and Angola are really strong. Cape Verde as well."

Is it different playing there compared to Europe?

Both: "Ohhhh yes!"

SK: "It's different things. My first experience of House music in South Africa, there was a lot of men, but not so many women. On my last trip, there was much more diversity. A lot more 50/50. Their understanding of music and their acceptance of new music is what makes the scene so great out there. But in the UK, we're probably more used to more balanced crowds."

KA: "One thing I've noticed in Africa, is that the production is moving forward quicker. It has the venues, open spaces that allow for them to invest in production.

Another thing that is different back home, is in South Africa, there is more flexibility, in terms of them being able to create an open space and putting great production into it. Everyone there is serious about putting on a show. It's not just necessarily a gig or a club night. It's a show."

Have you guys got any more Ibiza appearances coming later this summer?

KA: "Yes, we do."

For Defected or?

Both: (laugh)

SK: "We have some dates, but it's just about getting them officially announced, you know. We've got plans in the pipeline. We're going to be busy over here on the island, put it that way."

Keeping your cards close to your chest. We look forward to hearing more when the time is right!

Now we know that Sef Kombo and Kitty Amor will join THEMBA and AMÉMÉ for the penultimate Colours party at Club Chinois. That is shaping up to be one hell of a party, guaranteeing the very best in Afro House music.

Head below to buy your tickets and be there.


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