New Sound 032 \\ ODD OKODDO are a fresh German-Kenyan duo

18th September 2019

ODD OKODDO are Kenyan/German duo Olith Ratego and Sven Kacirek 

Olith and Sven formed ODD OKODDO in 2018, ten years after meeting in Kenya when Sven was recording his ‘Kenya Sessions’. 

Olith sings in a style he calls ‘DoDo Blues’, inspired by the high-pitched, soulful style that originated around the shores of Lake Victoria in Kenya. Meanwhile Sven, who has worked with Nils Frahm and Shabaka Hutchings, uses a bass marimba and a number of household objects to create a distinctive sound throughout ‘Auma’. 

Together, with ODD OKODDO, both Sven and Olith finds ways to stretch their creativity even more. ‘Auma’ is released on 18 October on Pingipung. We find out more about the record ahead of it landing. 

\\ Tell us about AUMA, the themes or stories within it?

Sven: Tabu Osusa, a producer and music manager from Nairobi, asked me if I would like to work on vocal recordings of Olith they had recorded at the Ketebul studio in Nairobi. I already worked with Olith on one of the tracks for the ‘The Kenya Sessions’ album and I always had it in mind to work on a full album with him. 

I listened to the recordings that Tabu sent me and I immediately liked it. I basically kept the arrangements but I recorded a lot of other instruments like marimba, drums, percussion, vibes and piano. I tried to stay true to the original dodo sound even though I changed the aesthetics of the music. After several months I played my versions to Tabu and to Olith and fortunately they liked it a lot. 

Olith: ‘Auma’ is the name of album. It’s a story of a young girl whose mother carries her in pregnancy – they grow together as one. When she was young she was a good girl. When she grows up, she changes her character… sometimes her mother would shout and she wouldn’t respond. I was reminding her that she needs to be patient. 

\ \What’s been the journey between AUMA and your previous release? 

Sven: My previous release was very different from the ‘Auma’ album. Together with my friend Daniel Mbutch Muhuni from Nairobi, we conducted several interviews with farmers, politicians and activists about the free trade agreement EPA between the EU and the ACP countries. We used the recorded voices as musical soloists and created 10 tracks based on this post-colonial issue.

Before that I re-arranged and re-recorded the ‘Nutcracker Suite’ by Tchaikovsky and before that I worked on a record based on vocal recordings from Okinawa, Japan. So every single record had a different background. That’s why you really cant´t compare ‘Auma’ to my previous releases. 

Olith: It’s the one we are planning to release it in October. According to the places we have gone, people have welcomed us well and also liked it so much because many of the songs including AUMA have a lot of teachings. Wherever we go the results came well. 

\\ Having met 10 years ago now, how has your musical relationship adapted over the decade?

Sven: We have kept touch over the last ten years. Also Olith helped me to work on field recordings in Siaya five years ago. 

Order ODD OKODDO’s ‘Auma’ Bandcamp

Check out Album of the Week from Sampa the Great

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