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Stream Bokani Dyer’s ‘Radio Sechaba’

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Bokani Dyer, born on January 21, 1986, is a pianist, composer, and music producer of Motswana-South African descent. Known for his innovative jazz compositions, Dyer blends various genres such as electronic, R&B, salsa, and classical music.

Dyer’s journey began in Gaborone, Botswana, where he was born. However, at the age of four, he relocated to South Africa with his family in 1990. It was during his teenage years, at the age of 14, that he started taking piano lessons. His passion for music continued to grow, leading him to pursue a formal education in jazz.

He enrolled at the University of Cape Town, specializing in jazz studies. In 2008, Dyer successfully completed his studies and earned his degree. Recognizing his talent and dedication, he was granted two international scholarships after graduating. These scholarships provided him with the opportunity to receive training and attend masterclasses conducted by renowned musicians from around the world.

Bokani Dyer’s commitment to his craft, coupled with his diverse musical influences, has shaped his unique style and approach to jazz. Through his compositions, he artfully combines traditional jazz elements with modern sounds, resulting in a captivating blend of genres. His contributions to the music industry have earned him recognition and acclaim both locally and internationally.

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Composer, singer and pianist Bokani Dyer’s sixth album Radio Sechaba possesses South African and American jazz sensibilities, while attaching to its core sound traditional and contemporary undertones. With shades of choral, Afrobeat, folk and hip-hop further adding eclectic textures, the unification of musical styles mimics the thematic ethos of the album. “At the core of it I’m thinking about nation building,” Dyer tells Apple Music. “We live in this society where people are so separated because of superficial engagement. Bridging that gap requires more openness.” 

An exploratory impulse underscores the vibrant harmonies, soaring trumpets, wailing horns and rhythmic bass that ensue, linking the personal, familial and communal while giving expression to the notion of nation building in a musical context. “The album incorporates quite a lot of influences and goes to different places,” Dyer says. “So even in the making of the music I was trying to embody these ideas of freedom and openness.” Below, he expands on the motifs occurring across these compositions.

Radio freedom

“I’ve been thinking for a while now about where we are in South Africa in terms of the progress we’ve made into democracy. When I look at how people connect with each other, I think there’s still a lot that can be done. A lot of things that are very personal, I feel, also impact the nation-building idea. The way I think about Radio Sechaba is as prescribed listening. When you switch on the radio, you don’t really know what you’re going to experience, and you’re not really sure what kind of journey it’s going to take you on! I thought it would be interesting to say, ‘The agenda for this radio station is building and empowering.’ You know, it’s interesting because I didn’t know much about Radio Freedom and just came across it. It was an anti-apartheid, underground radio station tying into these same ideas. The other ideas I’m expressing on the album are things I think translate globally—themes like the ills of social media, being true to yourself and personal liberation.” 

Personal liberation

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“These songs capture moments in time where I feel certain things very strongly and want to put them down as significant experiences or ideas. This is stuff I’ve gone through, seen and think about—from a reminder to myself that you can actually miss a lot of stuff if you’re not present in the moment [‘Be Where You Are’] to the journey towards being comfortable in your own skin. ‘Resonance of Truth’ is about being true to yourself and doing things that mean something to you. It’s a song about personal freedom…about people tuning in to themselves to find what resonates with them as individuals. It’s a personal thing but also about a spirit of community; being at home within yourself and also wherever you are.”

State of the nation

“We see a lot of people who—when they’re given power—end up enriching themselves. There’s so much poverty around us and there are so many people who aren’t holding up their end of the bargain. So ‘Mogaetsho’ is a song about this betrayal. The reason I say mogaetsho [a Setswana word that most closely translates as ‘my fellow man’] is because there’s been a Black government for 30 years, so it’s people who have a connection to [the] struggle. It makes it more necessary to ask, ‘What’s going on?’ and ‘Why?’—these are the kind of questions that I’m asking. In my eyes, I feel like there’s personal work that needs to be done. People need to look within, get to know and confront themselves because a nation is made up of individuals. I think that kind of introspection is important—and then looking outside you, thinking and caring about other people. Even though we aren’t related, we’re family and should treat each other accordingly. That’s what makes a stronger nation.”

Spirit people

“‘Spirit People’ just kind of came to me and is about history, ancestry and people who lead with spirit. I was thinking about the sound of South African jazz and the influence of someone like Jonas Gwangwa. ‘Medu’ is a lament and a tribute; it means ‘roots’ in Sepedi and was also the name of the anti-apartheid art collective formed in Botswana around the time I was born. My father (who also plays on the track) was part of that grouping, so it speaks to my connection to him, my history and where I come from.”

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Musical structure and collaborations

“I think I was looking at all my musical influences and not really thinking about trying to keep it a certain thing. I was trying to give myself the freedom to try out different sounds while also thinking about the live experience of the album. That was in the back of my mind, thinking, ‘OK I have these songs, how do I translate them best?’ The album was recorded in different batches; the first was the acoustic stuff, then later was the live band set-up, which I kind of discovered as I was recording. It was interesting because I was learning about the sound then got to ‘Resonance of Truth’ and was like, ‘This sounds like what I want it to be like.’ Most of the tracks have the same kind of band set-up—two trumpets, guitar, Rhodes, bass, drums and vocals.

“I wanted to open it up to different voices and I don’t think too hard if I think somebody’s got something interesting to offer. Sereetsi, I’ve been aware of for a while now. I met him the last time I was in Botswana and he co-wrote quite a few of the songs. I have Damani Nkosi on here; he was visiting South Africa and has great ideas about things. I’ve been a big fan of Yonela [Mnana] for a long time but with Amaeshi [Ikechi] that wasn’t really planned. He was playing bass on ‘Spirit People’ and not really as a feature, but it called something within him and he just took the stage. It’s beautiful when you have moments like that!”

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SEASONED MOTSWANA SUPERSTAR ROBYN L DROPS NEW SINGLE “OBSESSION”.

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In the dynamic landscape of alternative pop music, independent artist Robyn L emerges as a force to be reckoned with. Hailing from Botswana and splitting her time between Gaborone, Cape Town, and Los Angeles, Robyn L has captured the attention of music enthusiasts worldwide with her distinct and introspective style.

Listen to ‘Obsession’ here:

Following the success of her debut single, “Malibu Barbie,” which amassed over 1 million streams within its first year of release, Robyn L continues to make waves in the industry. The Botswana-born artist has cultivated a global fan base with a TikTok following exceeding 400k.

“I’m excited for this release!” says Robyn L. “Obsession” is the first new song for 2024, with several more on the cards, all ahead of the upcoming album. I’ve worked with fabulous writers and producers, and to bring my work back home to Botswana and South Africa has been top of my list”. 

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Robyn L’s music is a testament to her versatility, seamlessly blending influences from various genres to create captivating soundscapes. Her upcoming single, “Obsession,” is poised to captivate audiences with its unique sound and compelling narrative.

A recent graduate from Berklee College of Music, class of 2024, where she earned a degree in songwriting, the 21-year-old artist is primed to leave an indelible mark on the music world. With an anticipated album release date set for late August 2024, Robyn L is on a mission to become a household name and a pioneer in the music industry.

Robyn L invites fans and music enthusiasts alike to join her on this exciting journey as she establishes herself as a rising star in the alternative pop scene. Follow her on social media: https://www.tiktok.com/@robynlmusic

For media inquiries, please contact:

mellissa@ibemusic.org

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ian@ibemusic.org

More information: www.ibemusic.org

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Stream Melo – Tsa Makhete

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Check out the latest banger from the BW in 2024! Gifted rapper Melo teams up with Bang!Gae for a production that’s pure fire. With beats crafted by Nephew and beautiful nods to Setswana dikhwaere, “Tsa Makhete” is a masterpiece. Featuring the talented Nicole Martinez and Lord Ledimo, this track is an absolute vibe. Stream it now and feel the rhythm pulsating through your veins! 🎶 #TsaMakhete #BWMusic2024

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Stream project new ABITOLA’s “Kgosi ya Strata”

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