Take four inspiring, innovative, hardworking visionaries, add a dose of sharp entrepreneurialism and a love and pride of their combined African culture and you get to be in the company of some pretty epic trailblazing promoters changing the game in Sydney.
Introducing the Sounds of Afrobeat’s founders, Davis Osa, Nick Mbogua, Junior Aboagye and Emmanuel Adeyemi, the enigmatic crew behind one of the biggest and most celebrated festivals in Sydney are beginning to channel in a new area of success and sustainability of urban music events in our city.
Everything this quartet of ambition and drive bring together is a guaranteed success and the proof can be seen in the unrivalled success of their bi-annual Sounds of Afrobeat’s Festival, which is a brilliant celebration of the music, fare and culture that the African community in Australia can be most proud of.
They deliver respectable, engaging and above all else the best experience to their festival –goers, in a night that always be remembered. I am so proud to be able to bring their success story to my blog and to share with my readers four men who eat, sleep and breathe Hustle…. read below their thoughts and motivations on what is fast becoming a well-oiled music and event brand and why they are changing the game so effectively in Sydney.
Hi guys so nice to finally have a chance to have a chat with you all and the fabulous brand you have built over the last few years with SOA ….congratulations! Can you tell me how and why you decided to create the brand and how it has grown from its first festival?
Davis: The festival was created with the notion of uniting the African diaspora together via music & dance – a theme quite prominent in most African (and people of African descent) homes.There were too many silos within our community, in where you would have events catered for Nigerians, Ghanaians, Sierra Leoneans, South Sudanese, South Africans, Caribbeans, etc. which automatically would exclude others from wanting to attend. As there are musical synergies between us all, we felt, why not combine all the genres for one event, so that not only the diaspora can get together and enjoy all their favorite sounds, but in the process create a platform for our culture to be shared to the wider audience, outside the community.
Since our first event, our audience has grown rapidly over time, with patrons travelling from near and far to attend the bi-annual festival. We honestly didn’t envision the event to grow so quick and we are truly overwhelmed by the support of the community. We believe we’ve created an atmosphere that’s a true representation of our culture.
So how did you all meet? What’s the history behind the men of SOA?
Davis: Our community is quite tight-knit so everyone tends to know each other. We’ve all known each other since teenagers, with most of us having solid friendships spanning well over a decade. We all come from professional backgrounds and have individually had our successes in the events business. There has being a desire for us to collaborate on a project for a while now and I guess SOA was the perfect time to make that happen!
The Sounds of Afrobeat‘s Festival has grown into a must attend bi annual music event in Sydney but more so, it is a grand and inspiring homage to the African diaspora and brings together the elements of music, joy and culture in one afternoon. What would you say has been the reason / reasons to the Afrobeat‘s event success and what leaves your patrons wanting more?
Nick: We as a collective team have a deep desire to deliver our patrons with a cultural experience, which sparks elements of nostalgia. As African-Australian’s it is incredibly important for us to not only retain our cultural identity, but to also share our rich heritage with the greater community. Sounds of Afrobeat’s festival has managed to breakdown the cultural silo’s which can at times be intimidating to those who feel disconnected to the diaspora. Music has been the vehicle which we as a team have chosen to promote to connect with Australian society. We cannot help but feel that the Genre of Afrobeat’s has self-promoted itself within Australia and our team are simply complimenting this by delivering an African greater experience via the combination of Fashion, Food, Art and unity. It is most humbling to us to have so many of our guests returning and providing us feedback such as “I felt like I was back home” or “I wish I could bring my mother to this”. The answer simply is YOU CAN! The event although over 18’s has a strong sense of family, to the degree at which you feel it is a huge backyard party. Music has a powerful ability to connect us all, our festival is the channel.
Would you say, collectively that the African community and its culture and music are represented enough within the Australian community as a whole or is there still work to be done in terms of the promotion of cultural events as a whole in this country?
Nick: After working in the African community for over 10 years, what has become clear to me is that there is not necessarily a shortage of events but a shortage of community support. There is still a lot of work which needs to be done in the community with respect to promoting solidarity and a united front amongst the greater diaspora. From a personal perspective I believe that it makes no sense for our community to be working in competition with one another, with an aim to split the community into silo’s. The African community in Australia is definitely one of the smallest in reference to the greater demographic, so it is imperative that we all work together to promote the culture. With regard to the representation of African music in Australia, I believe that is clearly becoming more mainstream which can partially be attributed to American artist collaborations, such as French Montana & Drake. Afrobeat’s as a genre has definitely broken down some serious barriers over the past five years, which is reflective by the presence on nationally broadcasted radio shows. Within time African culture in Australia will be broadcasted on all mediums available to the general public, which will be further breakdown cultural silo’s in the community.
How would each of you best describe one another in a word and what makes you all work so well as a collective?
Emmanuel: We all have strengths and limitations and I believe what makes us work best is we acknowledge our limitations and focus on harnessing one another’s strengths.
Nick is the go-getter who regards SOA and its element of bringing culture in a bigger scheme of thinking.
Davis is meticulous who sees things that others don’t, and it makes such a difference.
Junior is creative in his perspective and challenges us to think outside the box.
What’s next for The Sounds of Afrobeat‘s and can we see this event go national at some stage?
Emmanuel: What’s next? Expansion. We are in the mix of kicking off more festivals at other interstate locations. Definitely looking to bring the vibes and cultures to everyone on a national level. As we slowly roll out across multiple locations the aim will be to have an annual SOA festival in every major city in Australia.
What would you say your biggest motivator or inspiration is doing what you do?
Junior: I Think there are so many reasons why we started and continue to develop this brand. On an individual level, knowing the gentlemen I work with, we are all focused, driven individuals who want more of out of life. The general expectation of working till retirement has never been a great concept, we all believe in the notion of controlling your own destiny and living a life of meaning and purpose, which to us simply means doing what you love but doing it well.
On a business level, we are inspired and motivated by results, seeing our brand grow and eventually develop to our ultimate vision of a nationwide festival. Results mean we can expand into other sectors of entertainment and business in general.
On a social level: We want to represent our community and give back to the community. There are few platforms available to Africans in Australia where we can dance, eat and feel our culture and see local and international live acts, We want to be an organization that provides this in Australia. We also are inspired to give back to our community, especially the youth. This is a key talking point going into 2019.
For more information on SOA and their upcoming events visit: https://www.facebook.com/soundsofafrobeats/