South London has given birth to many musical styles across different cultures – but reggae is the big daddy of them all.
City Splash Festival at Beckenham Place Park on September 12, will honour all of those musical children, from the roots to the newest buds, from Barrington Levy to Lila Ike, from the Twinkle Brothers to Kiko Bun.
More than 40 artists will perform across four stages; the Mainstage, Rampage Carnival, Channel One Presents and Woodlands.
The stages are surrounded by ancient woodland and grassy hills so festival goers can take in breathtaking scenery while they enjoy their favourite reggae acts.
Other acts to take the stage include Hollie Cook, Dawn Penn, Rasties and Marla Brown.
Mr Bun, whose tastes take in the broadest range of bass-heavy reggae influences, will be there as much to listen to the other artists as to perform himself.
“I love the City Splash vibe and line – and really want to get further into the scene I’m about,” he said. “I absolutely love playing festivals and especially feel more at home at the reggae ones.
“I like to hang about and watch some of the other acts perform too.
“I love festivals because you have so much choice in what you want to hear or experience, whether it be a live band or sound system, plus you have many different avenues of reggae to choose from in those scenarios so I always find myself spoilt for choices!”
Bun lists Toots & the Maytals, UB40 and Ini Kamoze among his influences – but his dad may be the most important person in him finding his way to them.
“My father played a lot of reggae vinyl when I was growing up,” he said.
“It was always playing at home so was definitely embedded in me from early on.
“It wasn’t until I was in my late teens that I started to make this music myself but it’s thanks to my musical upbringing that I found reggae for sure.”
He is also influenced by the strong ethics of Rastafarianism.
“Rasta is important to me as I respect a lot of the values and ways of Rasta life,” he said.
“Many people who I consider close friends of mine who play a great part in the UK reggae scene are of the Rastafari faith. Beautiful people with good morals and not to mention the roots music and origins of the deep reggae sound I love are of this descent.”
His song Where I’m From says he was raised in the “land of large bass and big drum”. So where is that?
”I’m from north-west London but I went to school in South London’s Pimlico School –
before it became an academy – so most of my friends are from the south and I spend most of my time in the south,” he said.
“I think this is why people think I’m from South London, but I’m actually from Camden.
“My mother is from Panama in Central America – which is why I have named my record label, ‘Panamah Records’ – and my father is from Rome, Italy.”
Kiko’s work was everywhere in 2015-16 and his life changed.
“I quite enjoyed the ride really,” he said. “I went to many different countries around the world to shoot videos, write music, and play gigs.
“I still do those things obviously but it was a whole new thing to me and I just loved it.
“It was a very exciting time in my life.
“I was working as a chef in Soho for two and a half years and then I went on to work at FlashBack Records, a record shop in Islington right before my signing to Island Records.
“So I’m not really sure what I would have done if my music had not caught on – maybe a chef, maybe a record seller. Both things I very much enjoy.”
He’s now working on his own productions from his home studio – playing all the instruments himself and recording to tape.
He is about to start releasing a series of seven-inch records, all on Panamah Records.
He said: “I’ve always liked to explore reggae and it’s various forms in my releases but now I’m bringing it right back to the foundation.
“Not many people are making Rubadub or early dancehall anymore but I just want to focus on this music I truly love and that’s all that matters to me. So expect to hear some classic sounding records with big 1970s and 1980s influence.”
After City Splash, he is headlining with his band at Colours, Hoxton on November 12, with Oxman Reggae in support.
Tickets: gigantic.com or via the link in Kiko’s Instagram bio
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