Category Archives: Interviews

Osekre: Poetry, Hustling, and Musical Genre-Bending

In 2014, I stumbled upon a song unlike any I had heard at the time: “Why Are You Here,” by Osekre and the Lucky Bastards. The combination of horns, highlife sound, and energy like a punch in the gut was thrilling, and I immediately had to listen to it again, tweet about it, etc.

In the spring, the band came to Boston for its edition of the Aputumpu Music Festival, where I watched them and a diverse set of other bands. Later, I sat down to chat with the band’s lead singer, the musician, poet, and entrepreneur Osekre. In addition to creating two albums with his band, “No Turning Back From Here,” released in 2009, and the EP “Why Are You Here,” released in 2014, he’s also the founder of the Aputumpu Music Festival and the associated blog.

My notes from the conversation:

  • how having a talent and being willing to share it with others can get you quite far
  • the fascination of a certain subset of Ghanaians for Ivy League schools
  • the ways that people can make surprising shows of generosity, yet you still have to ask or put yourself out there in order to be in a position to receive, which takes courage
  • how you often feel like your creation is telling you what it wants to be
  • how your attitude toward an art form can change over time
  • physical proximity to other artists be an important influence on your work, despite internet-fueled location-independence
  • the new often comes from mixing existing things in new ways and how outsiders are often in the best place to see those possibilities
  • creating things for yourself can lead to things that help others, like a music festival (maybe all creation is ultimately selfish)

To find Osekre on the internet:
Website: (website)
On twitter: @oskere
On Facebook: osekreandtheluckybastards
On Bandcamp:
Aputumpu Music Festival and blog

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Arthur Musah: Engineering Education, Film School, and an African New Wave

Early in 2015, I spoke with the filmmaker and engineer Arthur Musah. He was trained in electrical engineering and computer science at MIT, and film at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, and has gone on to work on fiction and documentary shorts, including What to Bring to America, Refuge, and Color Blind. He is currently working on two feature-length documentaries focusing on Africa and Africans in a globalized, technological age.

What was special about this conversation is that it’s the first African Takeover interview. There’s something about asking someone to tell their story that often leads to fascinating places. Even if you know the person, you are almost guaranteed to be surprised. Part of the reason that I’ve been interested in listening to interviews, reading interviews, and now, conducting interviews, is that I always love that electric jolt of astonishment, and that point in the conversation when the person says something that makes you rethink some aspect of life.

Some things that struck me about this conversation:

  • the way that knowledge gets passed down in an institution: the kids at Arthur’s secondary school have a system for getting into American universities
  • as always, it’s fascinating how people start off in one place and end up somewhere completely different, yet appropriate
  • the way that art affects us differently at different stages of our lives
  • how diving deeply into one perspective or style of a thing (here, film) can make it easier to notice the characteristics of other styles
  • learning how to play all the roles can be extremely valuable, even if you eventually delegate them to others

I’m excited to see Arthur’s films, and like him, I’m interested to see what interesting stories come out of the African experience.

To find Arthur on the internet:
Website: One Day I Too Go Fly (website)
On twitter: @pidgincinema

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