A Birmingham-based seven-piece reggae and pop outfit, Kioko first got together in 2008 but went through a number of changes before re-emerging on the UK music scene in 2014. The band features Matt Doyle as the lead vocalist, the group's frontman, who also plays rhythm guitar. Jon Brown is Kioko's lead guitarist, Ben Torrens its bassist and Tom Collins, the drummer. The remaining members of the band are its horn section. Ewan Whyte is a trumpet player who also provides backing vocals, while Josh Wilkinson provides the trombone parts. Laurence Taylor, another trumpet player, is the seventh member of the group.
Kioko describe themselves as a group of like-minded and multicultural musicians. Like the big acts of British reggae, such as Steel Pulse and UB40, Kioko have sought to put their own brand on their sound, which embraces pop music as well as reggae rock. The band cite a wide range of acts as having influenced their sound and socially progressive lyrical content. Providing inspiration are performers as diverse as Bob Dylan, Marvin Gaye and Bob Marley.
Kioko's career highlights
As a touring band in their own right, the members of Kioko have played all over the West Midlands and large parts of the rest of the country. In addition, they have been offered some high-profile support slots with the likes of The Wailers and The Specials. They have opened for the legendary Jamaican producer and musician Lee 'Scratch' Perry during his shows in the UK, as well as for hip-hop acts such as Tinie Tempah.
Several members of Kioko knew one another when they got together as a student band. However, after graduating, the members of the group found it harder to get together to perform, and gigs were sporadic. It was not until 2014 that the band decided to make a go of it and to rebrand with its current name. Since then, the group has made multiple releases and toured in support of their records, such as the nationwide tour that was put together to promote their EP, Let's Be Frank.
When Kioko set about recording another EP, by the name of True What They Say, they employed the services of the renowned reggae icon, Spider Johnson, to provide his insights during the studio sessions. The band has gone on record as saying that Johnson took them 'under his wing'. He has continued to mentor them in the development of their music. In recent years, the band has become a favourite on the festival circuit, including bookings at Glastonbury and Soundwave, Croatia's premier live music festival.
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