If you’re a fan of afrobeats, namely UK-based afrobeats, then you’re sure to have heard of the London-based Ghanaian duo Vibe Squad.
Formed since meeting each other in college in 2007, Wizzy, 22 and Kelvin, 23 make up the musical group. However, these Londoners have an extra multicultural edge as despite being based over here, Kelvin was born in Belgium and Wizzy in France, which is evident in both of their fused accents with twangs of African, English and French.
Describing how they came to do music, Kelvin explained how they were doing it for a few years, but not on a commercial level, only gaining recognition in 2011 when they came out with their single Dance With Me.
Our music, if we were to categorise it called afrobeats, but we try to cross genres and bring in other influences. Like if you
were to listen to our last single ‘Come Over’ it’s got a dancehall twang to it.
With inspiration from their parents, culture and African artists, Kelvin went on to explain that their sound was a result of a meeting of musical interests. As despite being brought up as two individuals, their shared cultures helped them become what they are today.
We got into the music industry by doing music! Music is our passion, regardless of whether we have an audience or not we’d still be doing music. We’ve always looked up to musicians who are legends in the game.
I, as a kid, have always been trying to copy other people, singing other songs. I grew up to a lot of old school artists, African, western and Caribbean… like Daddy Lumba, Feli Kuti, Bob Marley, Osibisa, several.
Moving on to current influences, Vibe Squad noted that they had their ear close to the ground and worked based on the feedback they get from fans.
I take a lot of reviews, I listen to people a lot, I listen to what’s out there and, yeah, I give the people what they want.
They also suggested that when it came to the afrobeats scene, they had a particular talent for seeking what was hot and what wasn’t:
Music deserves a lot of research. You need to actually sit down and predict what type of songs will be out in the next few months. Prediction is very key. So far it’s worked out for us so maybe our formulas are working out quite well.
With their current single Come Over receiving much positive feedback and gaining a large amount of views in a short space of time, Vibe Squad noticed the affect of the grown popularity of afrobeats as a genre helping to push that:
(Wizzy) – I think it helps, but I still think that even if afrobeats weren’t as big… because our sound is so different and so unique I think we’ll still have an audience there.
(Kelvin) – The industry has evolved. There is more interest and more people and more curiosity.
Being part of an industry as small as the UK afrobeats one, Vibe Squad have worked with and rubbed shoulders with notable artists especially WeRay Ent, and named Fuse ODG as someone whose career they admired. However, admiration doesn’t equal imitation for Vibe Squad, as they hailed individuality and clever predicitons as the main reasons for their success:
Set yourself apart by being yourself. People try to copy and imitate but it only works for that person because it’s unique to them. Add stuff that makes it unique to you.
We predicted earlier that azonto would be out there.
We were one of the first in the UK to bring out an azonto song. So, with the right prediction you’ll become the pioneer of a thing, when it actually blows up.
Vibe Squad are among the many artists due to perform at the Afrobeats Festival later next month and expressing their excitement, they explained what an event like this meant for the genre overall:
(Kelvin) – It’s one of those things that’s needed in an industry like this to grow it. Getting artists together… it’s a great look, for the fans as well.
What else can you ask for?
Afrobeats can only get stronger. People outside it need to take it seriously in order for it to grow.
(Wizzy) – Most people who aren’t doing well in this industry, it’s because they take it too lightly or doesn’t have the right team behind them.
They also referred to the constant statements made which suggest that the favour of afrobeats at the moment was just a phase:
(Kelvin) – As long as Africa’s there, it will always be there. And that’s it.
(Wizzy) – I know why people say it because they compare it to funky and funky came and funky died, it’s just a genre it came in and that’s it. But afrobeats, you can relate it to back home. Your heart is in it. Arobeats is here to stay.
With all their heart and passion going into music, the currently single afrobeats duo discussed their love lives – or lack of it:
(Wizzy) – Too busy for girls and they’re tough to handle as being in this music industry, they’ve already judged you before getting to know you. These late nights studio sessions could be taking for a late night at hers Lol.. especially these shows outside London.. I’m sure there’s a doubt that another girl is gonna end up in your hotel room.
(Kelvin) – Because you’re famous and in the limelight, you’re not gonna have time for that. And because people think that it makes famous people more lonely.
Because they end up being put into a corner and have all this prejudice around them, that they cannot make any romantic relationships with anyone.
So the ladies out there, you definitely need to holla! Come over, don’t be shy!
We’re not as shallow as our videos make us look, we’re not all about pretty light skinned, good body… We see them all the time.. we need a girl that we can take home, motivate us and wanna grow together.
On that note I might actually bring my date to Afrobeats Music Festival and let her see things from another angle.
Despite not being in any relationships at the moment, the group’s romantic experiences do reflect in their music as Kelvin revealed that a certain golddigger inspired Vibe Squad’s previous hit Wa Di Mi Sika (meaning “she spends my money):
It’s as simple as a girl just wanting you because she thinks she can get financial benefits from you. As much as you put a comical side to it in the music, it did actually happen. And yeah… so men out there watch out! Don’t think it only happens to people like us.
Aww! Any ladies willing to fix Kelvin’s broken heart?
Vibe Squad’s latest single Come Over is out 1 October. and the album is planned for a 2014 release.