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Published 1st August 2017


So, who’s this then? This is Kikuyu Soul, a musical duo comprising brothers Andy and Matt Davies from Mannings Heath.

Kikuyu? Kikuyu is the name of the largest ethnic tribe in Kenya. The brothers are proud of their Kenyan heritage from their mother’s side of the family.

What type of music do they play? It’s a blend of hip-hop, soul and R ‘n’ B. Andy and Matt have developed musical passions from very different angles. Andy studied sound engineering at university before nurturing his drum and bass skills whilst performing across Europe (as MC Degs) for a decade. Matt maintained a love of music whilst studying for his Master’s degree in Chemistry. You know, that old hip-hop cliché!

Have they been performing together for long? Strangely not. Whilst Andy and Matt are multi-instrumentalists and share similar tastes in music, they only recently joined forces for Kikuyu Soul. Andy said: “We played a couple of acoustic sets when we were young, but have mostly done our own thing. We talked about doing something together but Matt was busy with his degree, whilst I was involved in various projects. Finally, we reached a point where we both had time and the idea came to fruition. It just wasn’t until we were in our mid-20s that theopportunity came about.”

Can you describe the sound of Kikuyu Soul? The brothers are fans of ‘Old School’ hip-hop and such influences can be heard in much of their output. Having been introduced to hip-hop through 2Pac album, they discovered albums by seminal bands including A Tribe Called Quest and Big Daddy Kane. Matt said: “We love those ‘old school’ beats and wanted to build our music around that style. At the same time, Andy has a good singing voice, so some of our music has soulful influences. It’s all part of the same culture, yet there are many different sounds, from boom bap beats to modern R ‘n’ B. 

Sounds like they’re a difficult group to define by genre? That’s true, as different songs demonstrate many influences with singing, rap and even instrumentals. One song, Mothership, features classic rap beats over a soothing jazz piano that wouldn’t be out of place on a Nina Simone record. Style Is (Part One) starts with a minute of atmospheric keyboards before a hip-hop beat kicks in, whilst the Thessalonians fuses hypnotically dark piano with thoughtful lyrical content. 

A bit of everything then? There’s certainly variety. Andy said: “We have songs that are inspired by current acts like The Weeknd, whilst others could be from the early 1990’s. It really is a mish-mash of the music we like. It may be that our album sounds too much like a playlist. You could listen to two tracks and think they were by different artists.” 

Do both the brothers sing? Andy takes on most singing duties, whilst Matt focuses more on the production. They play all the instruments, having both learnt the piano as children, and have even fused a few samples into certain tracks. They have also collaborated with Xstatic, one of the best female rappers in Kenya, on one track.

Do they argue much? Seemingly, the sibling rivalry that affected bands like Oasis and The Jackson 5 has not reared its head. It helps that they are not living in each other’s pockets as Andy lives Mannings Heath whilst Matt lives and works in London. Matt said: “If Andy has an idea, he will lay it down and send it to me on email. I will add my ideas and give feedback. The ideas tend to develop organically and we can be hyper-critical without there being animosity. It helps the creative process.”

Who writes the lyrics? Writing duties are shared, with Kikuyu Soul trying to be honest and topical with lyrics. Andy said: “Much of the content is quite personal. We make everything relevant to who we are as people. We don’t pretend that we’re anything we’re not and just focus on our own experiences and things that we have an opinion on. Some lyrics are quite playful, whilst the songs with a darker mood offer an opportunity to write something sensitive.”

Have they recorded anything? Having initially intended to produce a handful of songs for a possible EP, Andy and Matt had enough for an LP. So, Kikuyu Soul have  released a full album, Asprilla.

As in the Italian motorbike manufacturer? No, that’s Aprilia. Asprilla as in the legendary Newcastle United and Colombia striker, Faustino Asprilla. Matt and Andy are fans!

Has Asprilla been professionally produced? Without a record deal, Kikuyu Soul have produced Asprilla with their own home equipment. That includes playing the instruments and mixing. However, thanks to Andy’s sound engineering experience, the music has a high level of quality.

What has the feedback to the record been like? The social media response has been positive and lots of friends, particularly in Horsham where the brothers are well known, have helped spread the word. Andy said: “When you don't have record label support, you have to be out there promoting your tracks on different platforms to try and push things forward. It’s not easy and we went into this a bit in the dark. But the music is out there and people can choose how much they want to pay for it. They can download it for free or pay £500 if they’re feeling generous! We hope people like it, but if they don't, we’re probably still going to carry on!”

What are their expectations? Matt said: “We have no plan and that's why it's been so much fun. We’re just making music that we like and whilst we hope others do too, we’re pleased with it.”

Presumably, they’re hopeful of some success? Andy still has commitments as MC Degs, and will soon be heading off to perform in Belgium and Holland. However, he would like Kikuyu Soul to be a success. He said: “Given the choice, this is what I would like to do.”


You can listen to Kikuyu Soul on many platforms including










Kikuyu Soul