BLACK ROCKERS UNITED MEDIA

#BRUTALK: POWERSLIDE

Powerslide is the iconic Kenyan trio: Willy Ojiro (guitarist/vocalist), Timothy
Wafula (percussionist), and George Zuko (bassist).

We caught up with each other on February 5, 2021. This is our #BRUTalk!

INTRO

INTRODUCTION | ORIGIN STORY

INTRO

NK: Black Rockers United [rock horns] since '06 when Nate decided that enough was enough, we should have a scene and it should be global. Nicole Kali, Media Team is joined by Powerslide. What's up, y'all?!

George Zuko: Hey, what up, what up?

NK: Hello, it's so good to meet you. Thanks for joining us.

Willy Ojiro: Thanks for hosting us.

George: Thank you for having us!

NK: Powerslide is a Kenyan power-punk rock trio: Willy Ojiro (guitarist/vocalist/mixer/producer)—hey, Willy!—Timothy "Qreed" Wafula (who is the songwriter/percussionist of Powerslide), and bad-ass bassist George Zuko the "G-Man" is with us as well! Yeees. [Laughs]

George: Yesss, yep, yep!

NK: So how are we?

Willy: We are fantastic!

George: We're doing fantastic. It's hot in Kenya but the weather is good, corona(virus) is down at least and we're doing well!

NK: I'm happy to hear it! Awesome.

George: So yeah.

NK: You're doing well and got KICK-ass music out. I wanted to shout out the single 'Darkness Is My Home' that you released in late January!

Willy: Yeah!

George: Yeah! Yeah.

NK: It's a very timely track and it's proof of your evolution as musicians. I would love to hear your opinion and feedback on your awesome, new music.

Willy: I think 'Darkness Is My Home', it was bound to happen because now, the kind of music we listen to is much heavier than the kind of music we used to listen to before.

And I think we listen to much more metalcore than we do punk now. So I guess, this kinda just had to happen!

NK: Yes! It has the punk vibe but it's—it's definitely metalcore. And I love that you didn't give us time to adjust, you just hit us with it and it was very solid.

Willy: [Laughs] That kinda was the point: it's like, we released 'Under The Gaze of Eternity' and then didn't want you guys to think we're going pop or R&B. People think we're going pop and they're like "We like this new direction".

But then some people were like "We don't kinda like the poppy stuff, we like the heavier stuff" and then all of a sudden it moved to something heavier—much heavier than anything they would've thought.

NK: Okay. So there was a mixture of reactions from people!

George and Willy: Yeah!

NK: But for the most part, everyone dug it. It was just "WHOA, I didn't expect that from Powerslide. That's cool.

Willy: Right.

George: Yeah.

NK: The single before that is 'Under The Gaze of Eternity'!

George: 'Eternity', yeah.

NK: It's very new-wave and it's—it's post-punk so it's an instant draw. How did sharing these two songs feel back-to-back?

George: Well, it was good! It was like, for me I'm mostly indie. And Qreed and Willy—they're usually more heavy (style), they're more hardcore guys. It was good: having the feel of both sides. And I feel like it went really well for all of them, yeah.

NK: Absolutely! Nekesa's a guest vocalist on that track too, right?

George: Yeah.

Willy: Yeah, Nekesa's BRILLIANT. And uh, she's coming back on a few more songs for the album.

George: She has the most—

NK: Oh my goodness!

George: ...the best voice in the world.

NK: Oh, yeah, Nekesa has an amazing voice. I'm really happy that y'all are collaborating.

George: Yep.

Willy: Yeah, definitely, Nekesa's awesome.

NK: True, true. So are y'all.

Willy: I think we may be going to hang out with her tomorrow. It's umm, one of her dude's birthdays. Shout out to Anto'. We're gonna hang out with you.

George: Yeah, shout out to Antoni. Yeah.

NK: Oh, nice! It's Antonio's birthday?

Willy: Yeah!

George: Yeah, tomorrow, yeah.

NK: Tomorrow, okay! Happy birthday in advance, Antonio. Shout out to you!

George and Willy: [Laughs] Yeah.

ORIGINS

NK: So Timothy, Willy, George, you originally all skated together and then you decided to be a band? And you learned instruments on top of that!

Willy: Actually, weirdly enough: George wasn't originally in the band.

NK: Okay!

Willy: The founding bassist was his brother Sam! So umm...but we all skated together long before that, long before I even started playing guitar. We've been skating together—how long has it been?

George: More than seven years at least?

Willy: It's been ten years. It's been at least ten years, dude!

George: Ten years.

Willy: 'Cause I remember, I was 13?

George: Yeah, we were like, in high school when we met, when I met up with Willy.

Willy: I was in middle school, yeah. I didn't live in Nairobi before. I lived in like, this really tiny town where I was the only skater. So I just skated on my own in my backyard.

And only on the holidays did I come to Nairobi, and then I'd skate with like, George and his brother Sam, and a bunch of other people.

NK: That's so rad, okay! So it's a big skate city in Nairobi.

George: Yeah! Like not that big but it's growing. It's not like U.S.A.! [Laughs]

NK: Aww, that's cool!

George: You guys have, you have like, the biggest population of skaters.

NK: I dig that! I like the synergy and a lot of people that skate together usually do make music together. And they listen to very heavy music: metal and punk.

Willy: Weirdly enough, that only exists everywhere but in Kenya 'cause here most of the people who skate don't really listen to rock or the people that actually do skate and listen to rock...

Not too many of them listen to punk. It's only because of Powerslide. A lot of scenes like skateboarding and punk go hand-in-hand, but here that's not really the case. So it's really crazy that all these guys that I skate with eventually became the same band.

NK: That's really interesting perspective, Willy! I didn't know that for the most part, no one really listens to punk that skates. I guess they just listen to whatever they want to.

George: Mostly rap and pop, actually.

Willy: Yeah, punks are really into rap big here.

George: Yeah...but like now in the rock scene, like, uh, people actually want to like hardcore stuff by the way.

Willy: Yeah, they switch: at home they listen to like, hip-hop and stuff—then they listen to Powerslide and mosh, and all that...and then they'll go back home to listen to hip-hop.

George: So they usually come to like, to our shows so you'll find a bunch of skaters coming through, which is so dope!

Willy: [Laughs] Yeah, a bunch of skateboards at the door!

George: They go into the club, and then you find like, a bunch of skaters coming to skateboard. And you find someone just left their skateboard and no one is attending to it. So someone can just step on it and fall like...it's crazy. [Laughs] Yeah.

Willy: [Laughs]

NK: Oh my gosh, wow [laughs], it's really official but do-it-yourself.

George: Yep.

NK: There's a lot of venues that just pop up and then there's also clubs that host rock shows. Are there any clubs that you specifically used to play at, that kind of gave you your start as a band?

Willy: There's one place! It's called The Blues (Nairobi). It's actually so weird, it's like a restaurant but it has a stage in the restaurant. So like, guys will play shows there and stuff. Umm, so that's where we started playing. We played there like, once a month every month for like, a year.

Big shout out, The Blues, that was really nice of them to give us a start!

NK: Yeah!

George: The Alchemist?

Willy: But we only played there once though.

George: Oh, yeah, we played there once.

Willy: [The Alchemist], this pretty cool venue in Kenya but it's more of like, a club scene. Even I was there last Saturday. I was there the Saturday before.

NK: Rockin'!

Willy: Where they played like, live [laughs]!

George: Yeah, he's a—he's a party animal [laughs]!

NK: He's like "I was there, I was there!" You know.

Willy: My brother was asking me if I wanted to go even more but I was like "No, we're going to the studio". [It's] a cool venue, they do a lot of live shows and stuff. So uh, playing there was pretty fun. And seriously the time we played there, George wasn't even in the band. He was filming us!

George: Yeah, I was filming them by the way! Yeah [laughs]

NK: That's awesome! I love that all of y'all have like, known each other for so long; you've supported each other. If you weren't behind the scenes, you were like in front of the camera or onstage with each other.

Willy: Yeah! [Laughs]

George: True!

Willy: It's like my idea of Powerslide, it'd be a bunch of guys. Like, SO many bands, just talented musicians who come together and play music. But Powerslide, it's like music is the last thing that brought us together 'cause when George joined the band, he didn't even know how to play bass.

George: And by the way, like, the first time I asked him, I asked Willy and the guys if I can join...[laughs]

Willy: [Laughs]

George: And then Willy told me I had to learn like, 15 songs.

Willy: I didn't say 50! [Still laughing]

George: You said like, 20, rock-solid!

NK: [Laughs too]

Willy: Yeah, like way back in 2017, George—just when we were forming the band—asked if he could join and I was like kinda "Nah. You need to get a bit better" [laughs].

George: Yeah by the way.

Willy: Like, he joined when we had the other bassist first, like...

NK: So you had to level up as you were becoming a band, I get it. You know? It's a whole process.

George: Yeah.

Willy: Yeah, he joined the band right before we played the city in like, a cool festival too (This Is Africa). It was like, a BUNCH of people.

NK: Ooh, wow! Whaaat?

Willy: It was crazy, yeah. It was really great. Yeah.

George: Thank you so much, man. And I'm really glad I joined the band. Cheers to you guys. Thank you! I appreciate it. Yeah!

NK: Sam is definitely the foundation of the band even though like, you're the bassist now. He's—like, you can definitely tell that he laid that groundwork. He's so dope.

Willy: Even the name Powerslide! I came up with a list but Sam, I think liked Powerslide.

NK: Awww! Ah, that's so cool. I didn't know that.

Willy: Yeah, shout out to Sam!

George: Shout out to Sam!

NK: Yeah, shout out to you!

Willy: Sam actually has another band [Duma]. Might you have, by any chance, have heard our song 'Of Monsters and Men (feat. Lord Spikeheart)'?

NK: Yeah.

Willy: So now the guy who's screaming on that, Martin Kanja, he's got a band with Sam Karugu. It's like an industrial band. It's called Duma, pretty big!

They started, like a year ago and they already toured Europe and stuff. So yeah, you should check them out: Duma, industrial like, grindcore.


Listen to their incredible track 'Lionsblood'.

NK: Definitely! If Martin's in it and if Sam's in it, then like for sure. I remember first hearing about y'all at the same time as Aphasia and like, Mortal Soul and all of these bands like Seeds of Datura.

Willy: Really?

NK: Yeah!—that took off now. And it's—it's really interesting to see...

Catch the rest on YouTube!

Powerslide can be found on  ,   and !


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