This year’s edition of Pearl Rhythm Festival’s Stage Coach paid tribute to folkore music as known to us – heavy on instruments like flutes, xylophones, drums and many instruments that have inspired our folk sounds for ages.
The festival has always been a celebration of music that is first becoming extinct as masses are giving way to pop culture – for the artistes that are usually part of the festival though; it’s a chance to let the music within speak.
It’s a platform to let the inner message, drum beats and belief take fore – And it’s the story of Derrick Komakech, one of the finalists at this year’s Stage Coach.
Clad in white trousers, a leopard skin print and head gear made of mainly feathers, Komakech was an attraction of attention – And of course, when he got the eyes on him, he managed to thrill as well as market the place he comes from.
Of course he wasn’t a household name by the festival; the few that had listened to his music were mostly farmiliar with Pigwanga Cwe, a song that had been compiled on the annual Pearl Rhythm Stage Coach album.
But he proved to be more than just the song, a soulful performer, his music tends to amplify culture as well as mourn the dangers that culture is surviving in today.
Komakech has been singing for a longer time though, speaking to Tsup Ug, the 29 year old notes that he’s been writing and performing for a longer time though the concept of fusion that he’s known for now was a decision he took in 2012.
The artiste has since performed at different events that including the GuitarFest, Tontoma Poetry Jazz Sessions and Pearl Rhythm Festival among others.
But that’s just not all about Komakech, during the Stage Coach recordings, the artiste wowed the producers; Giovanni Kremer Kiyingi, a folklore artiste that was attending the recording sessions even compared him to the legendary Geoffrey Oryema of the Land of Anaka fame.
Yet, even when the comparison may seem distant, it’s indeed Oryema that Komakech looks upto; “He inspires me a lot, he’s the reason am doing what am doing,” he says.
Surprisingly still, is a fact that Oryema is indeed a distant relative of Kamakech through his mother’s side, thus, when the young man learnt of the legend’s impending concert in Uganda, later this year, he couldn’t be more excited.
“I will do whatever it takes to be at that concert, not even an army can stop me from being part of that show,” he swore.
During his performance at Pearl Rhythm Festival, Komakech went through emotional songs like Pigwang Cwe, Kampala Kelele, Min Latin and Waraga bot Oryema among others. All the songs are off his new album set for release in 2017.
Waraga bot Oryema, is a song the artiste wrote after learning about Oryema’s story and his reasons for opting for the exile than his motherland, the song also tends to reassure the legend that Uganda is much safer and welcoming.
However, even when Komakech idolizes Oryema’s genius and mastery, he also notes that the years the legendary act has been out of Uganda, Gulu and the people there don’t know him since the generation that did is mostly dead.
People that have listened to Komakech perform rate their experiences differently, some say he has too much soul, while others love his attention to the Acholi sound.
Jaq Dewey, a radio personality and performer commends the artiste for staying true to his identity; “You can feel Komakech’s love for his culture when you listen to his music. I don’t have to understand the language but when you listen, there’s a proud Acholi.”
Derrick Komakech is a multi disciplinary Visual, performing and experimental sound artist. His passion for traditional oral literature and Guitar has helped him develop a breed of Acholi contemporary folk music which is becoming a permanent mark in his musical recordings and other musical theatre productions. His breakthrough in his musical compositions and endeavours was through a musical theatre production that was organized and produced by Makerere School of performing arts and the Royal Danish embassy in 2013. Born in Gulu District, Uganda on March 5th 1987 and grew up in a family that identified its self by communal singing, making things using our hands that sometimes transitioned into rudimentary technology which has influenced all his works as a visual and performing artist. He graduated from high school in 2007 with A-Levels in Art and Design, History, Economics and Geography. Komakech continued his studies at Makerere University in the Margaret Trowel School of Industrial and Fine Arts where he graduated in 2012. Following his studies Komakech has taken part in KLA ART 014: The BodaBoda Project as well as undertaking a residency at 32° East | Ugandan Arts Trust. He also works as an art tutor, guitarist and freelance graphic designer.