Roël Callister from the band Kuenta i Tambú (KiT) answered a few questions for the GenBass team. Read, listen&Enjoy !
Q : Can you describe KiT ?
A : KiT consists of a bunch of crazy people mostly from the islands of Curaçao and Aruba. One band member is from Germany. We all share the same passion and dedication to music. Most of us have a background as a drummer or percussionist and we all love Carnaval and chicken! And there’s the one important thing we have in abundance: energy and drive!
Q: Can you tell me your part in the band ?
A : Mostly I try to come up with ideas and make them work within the live setting we’re playing in. Thank god I don’t have to do it all by myself. I’m doing the writing and production part with my good friend, and not to forget, great producer: Rusted Braces. Whatever we make in the studio I’ll try to reproduce on stage. Live I do mostly chanting and some of the small traditional percussion instruments.
Besides the studio work and the live shows there’s also the label and the management part, which need to be taken care of. Together with 3 others we do all of this.
Q : Can you explain me what KiT means ?
A : KiT is short for ‘Kuenta i Tambú’ which translates into stories and drums.
Tambú is the name of the drums we use on stage! There’s actually two of them. The normal tambú and the tambú Grandi which is the bigger drum.
Tambú is also the name for music style, which is one of the most traditional music styles on Curaçao. It was brought to the Caribbean by the African Slaves.
It’s a combination of singing, clapping, tambú drums and the chapi (hoe). Since the band name is a bit difficult to pronounce we mostly stick to KiT.
Q : Can you tell us a bit about the story of KiT ?
A : It all started back in 2005 when one of my best friends, who’s a great artist and story teller, asked me to do a performance with only traditional music styles from Curaçao. 3 years later I was booking our first theater tour with his help. Until then it was totally acoustic and traditional. In 2010 we decided to change it up a little bit by adding samples and electronics. It was quite a long process going from acoustic to a 50/50 with electronics and acoustic drums.
The one thing we keep on doing is: using the traditional instruments and elements in a modern setup where we’re able to experiment with i.e. ‘work songs’. ‘Work songs’ were sang by the slaves to ease the pain of their situation while ‘working’.
We also have the ‘celebration songs’. These were used to thank God for a great harvest and to celebrate the great season they just had.
The Tambú drums and the Chapi are always present.
Q : How have you come up with the project ? What are your inspirations ?
A : I try to get inspired by anything I listen to. I especially like it when there’s loads of Drums and percussions. Those are my fist instruments and form the basis of all our compositions.
Bands and artists I listen to are quite varied and actually too many to mention. I’ll just name a few who did inspire me while producing music for KiT: Carlinhos Brown, Timbalada, Sergio Mendes and of course the local artists from Curaçao that make traditional music.
The connection here is simple: rhythm & percussions and especially the concept behind it. It’s how to make songs having percussions as the first instrument.
Q: What was the evolution of the band ?
A : The evolution happened when I gave in to electronic music influences. I was listening to electronic music already, but at some point we started trying out different things for KiT’s music. Things like bleeps, pitched vocals, weird basslines, using conga’s instead of snare drums and those kinda crazy things.
We shifted from ‘Tambu’ music to make something else. This was the birth of ‘Tambutronic’: we make use of traditional elements of tambu music and loads of loops, samples and electronics.
Q : Can you explain what modern Caribbean music is ?
A : Caribbean Music doesn’t stop at just reggae, zouk, or calypso. They do refer to many different styles as Caribbean Music. To me it becomes modern when you take it out of its original context and add i.e. some slick synth. sounds to it, really poppy sounding chords etc. It will always be danceable though. That’s its strength.
Q : Why being attached to your roots ?
A : Because it’s that one thing that you get for free! It’s that one thing that keeps on reminding you where you’re from. It goes beyond music. It’s like a blueprint for many things. For KiT it’s something we all can relate to and fall back on. It’s something you should be proud of.
Q : Can you tell us about your releases ?
A : Our first release was back in 2009. The album is called ‘E Kalakuna’ and was totally acoustic. The title track to the album was the first song I have written, and the first song I have ever sang. It reached the #1 position on a few charts on the islands. It’s a very special album to us. It’s where it all started.
The second release was on 30 nov 2011. It was an EP. Here we started exploring the possibilities within the new style we were creating: Tambutronic!
On 22nd of September 2012 KiT is releasing its second EP called Jackhammer. It includes remixes by Bert on Beats (Man Recordings), Wiwek (Mad Decent) and our own Rusted Braces.
Q : Can you tell us about difficulties (or not) to find a label, and what are the solutions you came up with?
A : To be honest: I tried a few times, but I always got to hear the same thing:
The music is very specific and there’s probably no market that would be interested. So I decided to release it myself. Nowadays I really don’t know if it’s a good or a bad thing, to not be signed to a label. It has both positive and negative sides to it. On the one hand It gives you total freedom to decide about your releases, while on the other hand It takes a little longer to build your network though, but it works.
Q : Do you see yourselves as a new type of club music ? Maybe close to IDM ?
A : To me it’s a kind of club music yes. We decided to adopt the name Tambutronic. It’s the best way to explain in one word what we do. You can definitely dance to it. It’s raw; it’s loud with loads of bass! On the 22nd and the 29th of September we’re organizing the first ‘TAMBUTRONIC SESSIONS’. In the near future we’ll be organizing more of those in different cities.
I know you’ll all want to grab that free DL and bang your head on the walls listening to KiT. Here you go !
Listen on Soundcloud&DL for free from the Bandcamp page
Ban Selebr’é – KiT (Kuenta i Tambú)
Tiro Loco – KiT (Kuenta i Tambú) ft. Orange Grove
Interesting documentaries about the traditional Tambu:
Tambu of Curaçao
Visit KiT on :