ellesse: Could you talk me through any musical influences you have and a bit about you and background?
Kiko: I’m a reggae tenna, and I’ve been doing music forever really. When I was young I had a little guitar and a little drum and I used to always love the sound of drums. My dad would play a lot of Roots and Dubs in the house, but when I went to school, I studied the violin in primary and I took it to secondary school, I went to Pimlico to do classical violin and I got my grade 8 distinction in the end when I was about 17/18, and during that time, I was getting into old school hip-hop. I really liked the ‘raggerdy’ sound of it, like ‘record crackle’ and that sort of thing, and when I got 18/19 I realised that I really liked reggae but I didn’t know much about it.
So, I started listening to more, and reggae was getting bigger and bigger on my playlist and before I knew it I had more reggae in my collection than hip-hop. I never thought that I’d sing, I used to do choir in school and Mr Jones was like ‘you have to sing up, sing up!’ and I was like “nah, nah, I don’t want to sing’. But then I started singing along to rare-ish Root tunes and I started writing as well, and because I made beats, like hip-hop beats, I started making reggae beats, and I wrote a couple of tunes and I just fell in love with it, man.
Then I went onto the internet, onto Gumtree, and typed in Reggae, just to see what would come up, and there was a band looking for a lead male vocal, and I was like ‘well I’ve written a couple of tunes so’. I sent them a couple of demos and they wrote back like ‘we’d love to meet you’ and stuff, it was a band called ‘General Skank’, and I was their front man for three years. During that time, I was writing a lot of original stuff on the side, came up with the name ‘Kiko Bun’. I used to love a smoke back in the day – obviously ‘Bun’ – and my first name is Fredariko, so it was like ‘Fredariko Smokes Kiko Bun’.
So, then I took that name and started a Sound Cloud and made a tune called ‘Sticky Situation’, which is just about ups and downs in life and I just wanted to express myself. Then that got heard by Simon McCulloch from Island Records, and now I’m signed to Island and it’s been like ¾ years now. I’ve had a lot of fun in the past 4 years, written with some amazing people, and only now, I’ve started writing my first album, with a friend called Dan who lives in Brighton and yeah man, it’s got Reggae in it, bits of Funk in it, and hip-hop as well and a bit of Soul. I just feel honoured to be able to do what I love, and it’s nice to write about real life experiences as well, because listeners get to know you a bit more through your music, and it’s like a diary, like a photo album.
ellesse: Could you talk us through the process of how you got to come today and what you’ve been doing and the two tracks you did for us today and you’ve got involved with ellesse.
Kiko: The first wallet I ever got was an ellesse wallet, and I remember showing it off to my mates back in the day when I was a little man. So, when this came about I was like ‘yeah, I’m well up for getting involved’. So, I sang 2 tunes today, I did ‘Stay Blessed’ which I wrote with my mate Dom from ‘The Next Man’, and that was towards the beginning, when I got signed. It’s still got that hip-hop, reggae type of fusion, and it’s about not really caring if things go wrong and just getting on with it and just see positive things. So, yeah, it’s called ‘Stay Blessed’ and then the other tune I sang today was ‘Can’t Hold Back’, which I wrote with Adrianna Berfone and Jim Dogood, and that’s kind of just about doing what you want to do and that there’s no harm in doing what you want to do really, it’s cool. Yeah man, I got some wavy garms, so it’s been nice and it’s been great to meet you all.
ellesse: Is there a distinctive first musical, or vinyl or CD that you remember?
Kiko: My mum’s from Panama in America, and we go there all the time to visit the family and I remember being there really young, I was about 5/6 or something, and the typical music in Panama is from the North and it’s called ‘Typico’ and there was a festival and there were these boys drumming on these drums, and the rhythms were so sick and remember falling in love with the hand drum from a really young age. And Roots as well, with my dad playing reggae in the house and stuff, there is this thing called Nyabinghi, which is the Rastafarian jumbo players and that clicked as well for me, and since then I’ve always liked complex rhythms and cool sounds as well because the drums sound nice, they were tuned perfectly. Even today when I’m producing, I like to tweak things individually so that they all sound nice and crisp. So yeah, I definitely think that it’s still an influence on me today, yeah man, I was like 5.