Ahead of his debut album release, the genre-defying, rising reggae star Kiko Bun touches down at The Fleece this August for a full-band live show.
Having graced the stage at the likes of Outlook, Glastonbury, Boomtown – and even the Royal Albert Hall – Kiko Bun comes from London to Bristol promising a taste of the sun with his soulful, roots-inspired reggae.
Kiko Bun comes from London to Bristol promising a taste of the sun with his soulful, roots-inspired reggae
Thanks to his own contemporary take and unique spin on the genre, influenced by anything from dancehall to golden era hip hop, this will be a show fans can really bop to – and his first live band show in Bristol since 2016.
I’ve been tucked away writing and finishing my album
‘It’s been a little minute as I’ve been tucked away writing and finishing my album’ he says. ‘My girlfriend is actually from Bristol so I’m there quite a bit, but it’s good to come back and do a gig with my band.
‘I feel like musically, Bristol is home, because we’ve got so many similarities. Me and the people of Bristol, we’ve got the same tastes – and I’ve never seen anyone get down to a reggae gig like the Bristol lot.
musically, Bristol is home
‘The live band is a four piece, with five of us in total. We’ve got bass, drums, guitar and keys. I love those chaps, they know what they’re doing.’
As well as an overdue live band performance, this show will also be the first chance for fans to hear some unreleased Kiko Bun music from his forthcoming album, alongside some old favourites.
The album will be his first solo release since his The Clubs EP in early 2018 – with some huge MC features having kept him busy in the meantime – and he gives us more than a flavour of what we’re in for:
‘I’m working with Dan Smith from The Noisettes in Brighton, we’ve done the whole thing together. It’s quite soulful and obviously reggae as well, but I love touching on different genres of music, because I don’t want to limit myself to one thing.
When I was writing, I imagined it being played in a venue
‘I’ve tried to make every tune catchy and danceable this time. When I was writing, I imagined it being played in a venue. The first few singles I put out were quite bassline heavy and repetitive, which was cool, but I feel like I’ve learnt a bit more since then. Everything is a little bit more musical this time as well.
‘The album is about falling in love with a girl, who is now my girlfriend, and it’s also about having a voice in the world as an artist. It’s a bit closer to the heart in terms of story.
The album is about falling in love with a girl
‘The album is almost ready to go, but I want to write a couple more tunes. Me and Dan are on a good creative streak at the moment, as everything we’re writing is something we like, but I know I can’t just write tunes forever and not finish the album.’
Away from roots reggae though, Kiko has found major success in 2019 in contemporary hip hop, providing a chorus for Loyle Carner’s track, You Don’t Know – which has now amassed over five million streams on Spotify. It’s not the first time they’ve worked together, with Kiko Bun featuring on the Mercury Prize-nominated artist’s debut EP back in 2014.
‘The Loyle Carner feature came about as his producer Rebel Kleff is my best mate, so we were jamming one day. We made the beat for it and I wrote the chorus over the top of it – and Loyle said “I like this”. It came about quite organically, just between friends.
‘I’m well happy with it and it’s nice to create with mates as well, as its proper laid back and you have a laugh.’
Kiko Bun also carved out an important presence on Swindle’s seminal No More Normal this year, with features on three tracks and a place on the live tour – where his natural stage presence came to life.
Me and Swindle have become good buddies (…) we are talking about getting back in the studio
‘Me and Swindle have become good buddies after that project, so we’re going to do Glastonbury, Boomtown and a couple of other shows, but we are talking about getting back in the studio.
‘I truly feel like I have a sense of belonging with roots reggae, but I grew up with old school hip hop and nothing can beat gangster for me. But then again, I listen to King Tubby every day.’
In 2018, Kiko toured with the legendary David Rodigan and his Outlook Orchestra as a guest vocalist alongside veterans including Tippa Irie and Winston Francis, producing unforgettable shows at festivals and arenas alike – a bucket list experience for any reggae artist.
‘David Rodigan has taken me under his wing and given me a massive opportunity. I was singing Junior Murvin’s Police and Thieves and Sun is Shining by Bob Marley, even Ganja Farmer by Marlon Asher and Dangerous by Convoy Smith; so I was singing these tunes – reggae classics – everyone’s singing it back and it’s sick.
David Rodigan has taken me under his wing
‘We did a show at The Royal Albert Hall – I felt like Pavarotti, it was so good. My mum came to that one as well. I was wearing an all-white suit, I looked fresh.’
A testament to his continued rise as an artist, Ellesse have clocked Kiko Bun as one to watch, joining forces on some special Ellesse X Kiko Bun garms that he’ll be bringing with him for sale at his show at The Fleece this August.
Kiko Bun will be getting the warmest of warm ups at his Bristol show from Boom Sound boss Gardna. Their synergy was tried and tested across Gentleman’s Dub Club and The Nextmen’s 2018 collab Pound for Pound, as the two resident MCs across the 12-track project – yet more evidence that the industry’s eyes are fixed on Kiko Bun as a rising vocal star, though he remains humble as ever: ‘I just can’t wait to play these new tunes and have a little dance with you.’