Fresh dance talent Oko Ebombo is dipping his toes into the music world, and thank God he is. Gracing our ears with self-described “jazz de rue”, the Parisian artist spent four years recording his debut EP, in different cities around the world. Collecting inspiration from each pit stop, the result is dreamy poetry injected into soothing, modern jazz—to be felt live in Amsterdam this week. Glamcult caught up.
For someone who hasn’t heard your music before, could you describe it in one short phrase?
I call it jazz de rue, street jazz music. It’s not really jazz, neither is it hip-hop or pop; it’s music that complements words—it’s poetry.
You worked on your EP Naked Life between 2012 and 2016, travelling between Portland, London, New York and Paris. What was the reason for recording in all these different places and what did it contribute to your music?
I am (first) a performer, not a musician. I started to make my music in the US and after meeting musicians in different cities, I started to build the EP. Each city definitely influenced my music—New York for the jazz, Portland for the rock, and Paris for my soul.
What does the title, Naked Life, refer to?
In French we say “la vie nue”. It’s not to be naked, but to be bare in your mind. We all have struggles; it’s the first emotion you have when you start to grow and think about what to do with your life.
You have previously been recognized as a dancer, photographer and model. What made you move on to music?
I was in my room and started to play piano and you know, it fits in my world to mix video, dance and music together. So I started to make music this way because it was the end of a point in my life. I decided to mix words with music because it made sense to do so; it brings all of it together.
Your music is inspired by coming of age and ‘urban experiences’. Can you elaborate on these experiences and how they drive your art?
To give an example, Iro represents the time I spent in the streets. I have spent a lot of my life in the streets so I am talking to the streets and asking, “What is this life?” It’s about my experience of life and it’s the beginning of music, but it’s more about poetry than music. My songs are mainly about the lyrics and what it is I’m saying, rather than the music behind it.
This week you are performing at De School. What can we expect?
I can’t say a lot but I am really happy to play in Amsterdam and I will be performing songs from my EP. I am expecting some love and looking forward to performing for my friends as I have been coming here regularly for 10 years now.
You have a personal affiliation with Amsterdam and homegrown brand Patta, right?
Yeah, I met two of my best friends, who work with Patta, back in 2006. Patta used to come to Paris and ever since we have kept evolving that friendship. We slowly started to collaborate and that’s how we know each other, we are really good friends—just like family.
Your music tells a personal tale. For you, what is it about your story that is most urgently asking to be told?
In life we are always naked. We never really know what we want, what we need and where we go. We are naked in front of these questions. Naked Life is the title to my first release.