The Very Best (the duo of Johan Hugo and Esau Mwamwaya) perform ‘Makes a King’ live from Esau’s hometown in Malawi, Kumbali Village. FACT TV will be bringing you a series of four videos about the group over the coming weeks.
According to Johan, the group’s music has evolved “not just in the sense that we’re trying to change our sound, but we’re constantly on a new journey which colours the music we make.”
“In February”, Johan continues, “we took the Malawian backing band Mafilika, and film makers David East and Allison Swank, in a few cars with a lot of recording and filming equipment and went on a trip to Kumbali village. We spent two days in Kumbali performing a bunch of songs from which we picked four to film.”
“The first day we had to stop filming because a very heavy thunderstorm rolled in and soaked some of our equipment before we had time to get it under cover. The second day the suspension on one of the trucks snapped and pierced the wheel but our driver somehow managed fix it with a home made hammer (pure Malawi McGyver style). It was the first time we played songs from the new album together with Mafilika, but despite the problems it all came together and we left with some live performances we are really proud of.”
The duo just released a new album, Makes A King, through Moshi Moshi. They wrote the record in Mali’s M’dala Chikowa, and were joined by local choirs and musicians who stopped in during the recording, as well as Vampire Weekend’s Chris Baio and Baaba Maal.
“The songs are pretty diverse in terms of what’s being said,” says Johan. “But it does get harder to ignore problems in the world. ‘Hear Me’ was a very personal song for Esau and he wanted to express his frustrations about the lack of progress in Malawi since independence. We’ve always felt our purpose in music is to be a positive force and Esau’s voice touches people without going too deep into political issues. So Makes A King is about celebrating the positive and the negative in life – and striving to stay happy through it all.”