Get to know Nkisi, the artist uniting hyper-modern club sounds and Afrocentric rhythms - Features - Mixmag

Get to know Nkisi, the artist uniting hyper-modern club sounds and Afrocentric rhythms

The London-based artist is releasing her debut album on Lee Gamble's UIQ

  • Jasmine Kent-Smith
  • 4 December 2018

As a child, Melika Ngombe Kolongo considered herself a nerd. Raised in Belgium, the now London-based Congolese artist and DJ found sanctity in solo listening.

“I’ve always just listened to music by myself,” she says. “I was into hip hop and I was also into more electronic stuff, but what linked everything together is that I’ve always been more into the darker side of everything.”

With formative interests in harder sounds such as gabba, trance and dark Belgian techno (“I feel like back then those sounds were kind of looked down on!” she says) it wasn’t until she moved to London that she fully embraced the eclecticism of her personal taste. “In London I could become confident about all the different stuff I’m into”, she explains. “I could just make music and mesh everything together and it was like, ‘It works, this is possible’. I don’t have a background in making music, so I’ve had to really trust my intuition. A lot of my music is about repetition and thinking about what music actually does to your body.”

Now 32, Nkisi’s broad taste is evident in offerings like her 2017 ‘Kill’ EP, her NTS Radio show or through her work with NON Worldwide. Founded by Nkisi alongside Angel-Ho and Chino Amobi in 2015, it operates as a record label, art project, and socio-political network championing an African diaspora-focused collective of artists and creators. “It’s been very comforting to have the NON institution because I always have a house for ideas and free thinking,” Nkisi says.

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