Feature

Keleketla! is the multi-cultural, cross-continental collaboration you need to see, with a docu-style short film following the journey

This is Keleketla!: a collaborative effort spanning Johannesburg, London, Lagos, L.A. and West Papua, headed by the British electro-duo Cold Cut, best known as pioneers of the pop sampling era in dance music during the ’80s, who brought DJ music to the mainstream. These days they’re turning their work to multicultural collaboration and Keleketla! is their latest project. They’ve got a short film out to document the journey, and it’s 100% worth the watch. 

The idea began when global charity In Place Of War introduced Cold Cut to the Keleketla! Library in Joburg. Since 2008 they’ve been a creative initiative and independent collective of artists working to uplift their communities. Run by Rangoato Hlasane and Malose Malahlela, they invited Cold Cut to Soweto’s Trackside Studios to run a series of grassroots recording sessions that will eventually be released as a collaborative album, and the result is an inspiring reminder of what can be done when global cultures become one. 

The record, set for release on the 3rd of July, will feature a range of South African instrumentalists, including jazz guitarist Sibusile Xaba, percussionist Thabang Tabane, and rapper Yugen Blakrok (Black Panther OST). From the initial Soweto sessions, Cold Cut also brought on more musos from their studio in London, including the father of Afrobeat, the late Tony Allen, as well as Dele Sosimi and West Papuan activist, Benny Wenda.

The docu-style short, directed by Jono Kyriakou, only gives us a taste of the music, and it seems to be a future-facing assemblage of jazz-tipped instrumentals, soulful rhythms, gqom beats and warm lyrical meditations. 

The film traverses interviews with the musicians as well as behind-the-scenes glimpses of the actual recording sessions, and there’s a real sense of fun freedom to the whole thing that celebrates the cross-cultural influences at play here.

It’s all encompassed by the word “Keleketla”, which means “response”, or in musical terms, “call-and-response”, a title which speaks to the project’s aim: to build out a shared musical ground, continents apart.