BLACK ROCKERS UNITED MEDIA

 

#BRUTALK: LAST YEAR'S TRAGEDY

Diallo Gatabaki talked to us on January 19, 2021 for another memorable one!

INTRO | ARTIVISM | THEN/NOW

INTRODUCTION

NK: Nicole Kali, #BRU Media meets Last Year's Tragedy! 

NK: [They’re] a Nairobi, Kenya metalcore band for over 10 years now, wow! So everyone knows who’s rockin’ our 21st #BRUTalk in 2021. That sounds so cool to say [laughs].

Diallo: It does [laughs]! It does.

NK: Diallo ‘Dee’ Gatabaki joins today as rhythm guitarist of Last Year's Tragedy. And with us in spirit are David ‘Chizi’ Mbure, lead vocalist, Ted Ngure, harsh vocalist, bassist Mahia Mutua; drummer George Atsula; lead shredder Joseph Wangonya and keyboardist Ruto Kipkulei! Yes!

Dialllo: Yes!

NK: We love you all here and feel your presence here! You're still shredding!

Diallo: Yeah.

NK: 10 years! Does it feel like it, first ofall?

Diallo: Umm, in many ways, yes—just to put this in context, when we started out technically more than 10 years—I mean when we started out, we were just kids in uni...and we didn't know what we were doing!

I mean, most of us have families now [laughs]. People have kids! But yeah, 10 years, a decade. It's surreal so to speak.

NK: Oh my goodness, I bet it's surreal.

Diallo: It is! They asked me or they begged me not to embarrass the rest of the band so I will do my best!

NK: [Laughs] I mean, this is already a fantastic interview. I'm loving the energy, Diallo.

Diallo: Yeah! Thank you, thank you. I'm pumped though, yeah.

NK: Absolutely.

Diallo: We've—we've followed, ever since following you and just seeing the work that you're doing in putting a lot of Black artists in the spotlight. Man, so for us this is such an honor, this little country in East Africa. So yeah!

So just—I mean, the kind of people you bring onboard just to talk about you know, more importantly than just the music, a lot of the issues that faces them as Black people (which are unique to us), umm.

It's amazing! So I'm really excited for this and I can't even begin to express how humbled I am that, you know, people from outside Kenya listen to our music and are digging it so...

NK: Awww. Seriously, Diallo?

Diallo: Yeah.

NK: Really?

Diallo: Yeah, yeah.

NK: I mean, like, we're mutually humbled because you have been in this game so much longer than us. And we've been listening to you for—gosh—ten years, as long as you've been around. And like, it's a country that is small with a big sound, and big issues. Right?

The issues are almost kind of eclipsed by how many of you there are and how much you're speaking to power. So thank you for doing that with metal because I think you and I can both agree: metal is one of the easiest ways to really break up that corruption and that power. (Question authority.)

METAL ARTIVISM

Diallo: It is. Yeah, it really is and this really speaks to what we feel about personally. And it's funny. A lot of the questions that we were asked about being a band and why you listen to metal music when we were younger...

They were like "You guys are so angry!" You know,"you're angry all the time!" but you know? The country where we live in—you know as a Black person and especially as a Kenyan as well, you have to be angry. You have to be upset, you know, in the world that we live in...

So metal just lends itself so easily, actually to be sort of a channel to express that aggressiveness, so to speak.

NK: All right!

Diallo: Yeah.

NK: In that way, is that how you met? Were you all metalheads and you just kind of synchronized from there or?

Diallo: It is, actually! So it's a funny story because I think the first time we were doing an introduction and everyone was getting to know each other. I was wearing a metal T-shirt and the lead singer just walked up to me. He was like "Hey, I guess you listen to metal!" And I'm like "Yeah" [Laughs] "I do."

And he's like "We do, I know some guys who do this". None of us could play at the time, yeah, so...we just banded this little group of misfits together. I mean, we used to sneak out of classes just to go and just watch music videos all the time

NK: So dope!

Diallo: I don't know, whch we were probably about five years behind or something but yeah! Yeah, so I mean we really grew and just that common love for the genre really brought us together. And one day, we literally decided! "Why don't we form a band?" And it was half a joke.

Yeah, we're just like "Yeah, where are we going to get instruments? I can't play anything, you can't play anything." And somehow, I mean if you wanna, sometimes in life—if you want to do it, you'll just find a way.

Yeah, I think what makes it even better is that the university which we were in was like, super-conservative [laughs]. So we stood out!

Yeah, we walked together and we would stand out so imagine going to class with a Sepultura T-shirt or something. Yeah, so...

NK: Wow!

Diallo: Yeah.

NK: I'm imagining that environment.

Diallo: [Laughs]

NK: And it's almost like you kinda rocked harder and I guess the message prolly hit that much more [laughs].

Diallo: IT DID, yeah because it feeds that rebellious nature, of course at the time. Uh, we were much younger but also I think because it was—like I said, a very Christian university and whatnot. I think it was easy for us guys to see a lot of the—

How can I say, sort of the hypocrisies that come out, in the things that were being taught in school and real life? And yeah, so that actually added a lot of the themes that we write about till this day.

LAST YEAR'S TRAGEDY NOW

NK: Wow, so it's kind of an evolution of metaphysical reality, what's really going on. You know? Wow, and that definitely shows in your music ever since Challenge Accepted for sure.

Diallo: Yeah. And I mean, something else since Challenge Accepted, I think a lot of the things that we're talking about back then still ring true. The world has changed but in many ways hasn't so as long as we live here and as long as the world still has these challenges, we'll always have music to write.

NK: 100%, boo.

Diallo: Yeah.

NK: Circling back around to fan support and obviously the new album releeease Amongst Lions on Andromeda Music that just became a reality!

Diallo: [Rock horns] Yeah! Yeah.

NK: Yeah.

Diallo: Yeah! Wow.

NK: So how do you feel in the aftermath?

Diallo: Yeah. I can say, and I think everybody in the band feels the same way: we are first relieved! [Laughs] We are so relieved. I mean, making music is fun and everything but it's also hard. You know. We don't do this for a living, so to speak as it'd be very hard to make a living out of music solely here.

But yeah, so a lot of sacrifices we have to make on the daily just to make music. It just fills us with so much pride that it's finally done and the music is no longer ours, we've shared it with the world! And you know—that's it!

So I think towards the end of the recording process, we had to have a sort of chat. And we needed to just get ourselves pumped.

You know, "after this, you know there's no looking back. You always second-guess yourself with the sort of music you come up with. It's like 'Oh, I wish I'd done this and this better'."

NK: Real.

Diallo: But I mean, progress above perfection so we are relieved. We are happy. I mean, like I said at the beginning, the reception has just been amazing. People have just really come through for us and they are loving the music! And that's all we want.

NK: Yes, you love it, the fans love it, the world has shown maximum feedback, yo.

Diallo: Yes! Yes, they have, I mean, we're getting comments and people buying the album from literally places as far as Russia. And I was just like "Wow!" Yeah.

NK: Aww, Diallo!

Diallo: That's incredible! You know, I didn't think...you know, and that's the beauty of music, like, the reach is infinite. You know? Yeah.

NK: Wow, so pretty much almost every corner of the earth if you thought about it, like almost. (Pacific Islands, Africa, Eurasia, the Americas? That's a huge range.) People you didn't even expect in different places!

Diallo: I know! Yes.

NK: The truthtelling of Amongst Lions on various tracks like "Intercessor (feat. RISH)" and "Threat Level Midnight", do you think it also speaks to people in countries that are going through something similar right now?

Diallo: Yeah, well, I should hope so 'cause I mean, we wrote these lyrics from our perspectives but a lot of these things ring true wherever if you live in a country that has such an oppressive government.

Or if you're—for some of the songs that we have talk about the human condition, and dealing with self-doubt and depression. I think regardless of where you are on the planet, a lot of people do face these things.

NK: Yeah.

Diallo: Yeah, so we wrote it from the context of our eyes but I think it does apply.

NK: Yes! There are 11 colossal composition on the album Amongst Lions, again Last Year's Tragedy's latest groundbreaking project which brought the best of the best in Kenya together. How do you feel about working with artists like RISH?

Diallo: Oh, man. So we keep telling guys we are such fanboys for RISH, and we've known her for the longest time. We really are! We really are. So I mean, we knew from the very beginning that we wanted to work with her. And she's like, super-cool. She's so chill.

And I think when we wrote the song, first we just knew "This is it! Intercessor!" And it wasn't even called that at the time. It was some other lame name, like something like "Till Further Notice", I guess? We had no idea.

I mean, so we let her go first because we're gentlemen. We let her go first and she did her vocals. And I mean, we had to completely rethink the song!

That's how good she is. We just had to throw out all our original ideas and just write about what she had done, because it was just so moving and so beautiful. And yeah. We're just stoked she could lend her talents on our album.

NK: Me too, she made it shine in a way that it really like, it seems timeless, you know? We're going to be listening to this long after 2021. It's a really solid collaboration and really beautifully done album. Congratulations!

Diallo: Thank you! Yes, Nic from Andromeda Music is such an excellent producer and he really pushed us. I think coming to the end, the way we initially were going with our pre-recorded tracks and how they sound now is just very different.

They're so much more awesome! There's just a lot more storytelling going on. And he really pushed us there so we owe him a lot.

NK: Yes! How does it feel to work with other Kenyan metal music producers? I mean, that's a reality that I think is just so awesome! That's kick-ass!

Diallo: It is! It is, and we're hoping that—actually, one of the things we're hoping after this is that a lot more people— just because of the quality of the production is that a lot more people will actually just pick up if they had any things about forming bands...are able to pick up because now they're proud. They're seeing "Hey, you know, you guys are doing it!"

Watch the full interview from here:

Find LYT across social media and support their new release Amongst Lions!

     

 

Media Pioneers: Mildred Achoch