London reggae maestro Kiko Bun has been merging dubbed out sounds, latin influences and elements of hip hop with great success, earning himself a blossoming reputation and writing credits for the This Is England ’90 soundtrack. Ahead of his appearance at House of Common this August Bank Holiday Monday, we spoke to Kiko about his roots, tastes and some of the warmest music he knows.
One of your biggest tracks to date is called “Where I’m From”, but where would you say the artist Kiko Bun came from?
I would say most of the influence in my music has come from London as it’s where I grew up. I've had hip hop, reggae, salsa, and other genres around me all my life, and I guess my love for reggae and a hip hop phase in my teens have contributed to what my sound is today.
And moving away from London for a moment, did many of your formative experiences take place outside of our capital?
I went to Jamaica shortly after my signing with Island and it really inspired me and I learned a lot! From hanging out with local vocalists and seeing their confident studio vibe, to just driving past a house with loud music playing. It was all what I had dreamt of.
You’re playing a fair few festivals over the next few months, with sets at Reading, Leeds and the Madness’ House of Common still to come after your performance at Tramlines in Sheffield. What do you think it is that makes your music so festival friendly?
I just like to have fun on stage. Love a giggle and a good time. It's nice to know people enjoy themselves.
You recently played a tour as support for The Wailers, which must have been a great honour. If you could have your pick of any artist to open for next, who would you choose?
I would love to open for Damian Marley one day. That would be wicked.
Last year you signed for Island Records, one of the biggest labels going. How did it feel signing on with such a huge player in the music industry?
It feels so good being signed to Island. They're the loveliest bunch and I feel that my music is at home with them. There's none of that pressure that everyone asks me about as I just get on with the music and have loads of fun, as I do.
House of Common is looking to compete with the world-famous Notting Hill Carnival this August bank holiday, and they’ve called on you as one of the acts to help propel the new festival to victory. As a Londoner yourself, what are your thoughts on Notting Hill Carnival?
Notting Hill Carnival is a great opportunity for everyone to unite and just enjoy themselves. There is a sound for all tastes so you can't go wrong. Carnival plays a huge part for me with regards to reggae music.
You’ve covered a lot of ground on your tours, do you find that audiences take to your sound more warmly in some places than others?
I guess if people know I'm coming they'd more likely be up for a good time in contrast to a surprise set or road show but we still see people enjoying themselves regardless. I like to connect with people of all musical tastes.
In previous interviews you’ve spoken about getting into music from an early age, and collecting a lot of records for sampling at home. Do you still buy a lot of music?
I am still a regular at a few stores as I will always love my vinyl. Always up for a crate dig.
I’m sure there are plenty of people that you would like to work with musically, but who would be the most surprising one?
It’s always nice to end on a musical offering, so with that in mind… what would you recommend as some therapeutic music for someone who’s got themselves into a very “Sticky Situation”?
I would say listen to Louie Louie by Toots And The Maytals as it’s just such a feel good classic. Always brightens up me day.
You can catch Kiko Bun in London when he plays at House of Common this summer. The festival will take place at Clapham Common on Monday 29th of August, with the likes of Toots and the Maytals, David Rodigan and Norman Jay MBE also due to perform.
Interview by Andrew Kemp
Photo courtesy of Kiko Bun