This transcripted form of interview doesn't quite do the occasion justice. Reported speech will inevitably fail to capture a deep, rumbling voice reflecting ponderously on a forty year musical odyssey. It would have been poetic had it not been constantly interrupted by toilet breaks, demonstrations of exotic artefacts and an array of mobile phone calls. It seemed his capricious mind just could not concentrate on one thing for any amount of time, not an ideal attribute when promoting the completion of his new album "AfroVibes", but far more entertaining.
So you arrived in Barcelona 9 years ago, what made you stay?
I came here to Europe from Africa, stayed in Germany, France and then Spain but Barcelona has treated me very well. When I arrived, I came on a bus and seeing the weather change as we descended down through France I was taking off a layer every few miles!! I felt this was the place man. I needed to make a band, I needed to record and make a project and this was the perfect place with so many people from so many places.
When did you decide that you wanted to make music?
Around 1977. All schools in Ghana have their own band and every year they do a student band competition between all the schools. The government sends the music to these schools and each has to interpret this music and as a group play it in their own style. The love for this caused me to become a drummer. So in the first band I joined I was just a chorus singer, from there I learnt the drums. I never learned with lessons, I just learned it myself, just natural rhythm. I practiced the guitar, taught myself that as well as I needed a way to play the melodies that were spinning around my head. But originally I was playing guitar like a drummer! It took me so long to learn without a teacher! I left Ghana in 1981 for Nigeria. This was a completely different country, the music was especially different; in Ghana we have a unique 'high life' rhythm which is evident in nearly every song but Nigeria is a country which is very hospitable to outside influence, I learned a lot. I stayed there a fair few years before going to the Congo and Cameroon. I would go to places and be the only Ghanaian. For this album I used all the rhythms from all around Africa, I took a little of the rhythm of Congo, of Mali, of Nigeria and put in the voice of Ghana!
So do you think it's really important to have people from lots of different cultures coming together to make music, it's been shown especially in your band hasn't it?
Yeah this is why I need to be in Europe to make music as I can't build this sort of thing in Africa, in Europe people come from North America, South America, from Asia and that's the perfect melting pot. I'm the pillar around which they build. I teach them how to play each individual part separately as you can have a lot of cultures but they all need to be moving to the same rhythm. I mean there are 12 people in the band, you can't give them all rhythmical independence. You have to have a lot of patience when you're playing in a group. I'd played in a group all my life and by coming to Europe I had to do it my way, I couldn't be told what to do anymore. African music has three guitars, one for the solos, one for the tenor and one for the rhythm. Add to that the keyboard, the drummers as well as three horns and chorus singers. Like I said, a lot of patience!
I will go to the house of the guitarist and spend two hours there just to teach him one thing. I'll go to the bass players house an spend an evening with him and spend so long on just one bassline because even though I don't play bass there's still a way to teach people these things.
Construction starts with the drums, never the guitar. When I'm doing this with the drums I don't even know which chord I'm playing! I find the chord using my voice.
Do you play any other instruments?
The keyboard as well, I find all the minor chords there. That, the guitar and my voice. I played in a reggae band in Barcelona as a keyboard player but I came here to do my project, I didn't come here to join any band. Heres an example, imagine there are two ships, the captain of the first ship is heading along steadily and another ship pulls alongside, this ship offers the captain to jump aboard and join the second ship because it is a faster sleeker model. So he joins because they offer to pay him more money and head off into the distance, leaving the captain's ship, his project, behind and abandoned. This is what it is like when people offer me the chance to play in their bands. I tell them I cannot abandon my project. I like to think, now I've finished this album, my ship has arrived! It took me seven years man!
I feel with this the sound of the album reflects the journey I've made, you can feel all the feeling of Africa inside.
The CD itself how long did it take to record?
About two years, because of the money, and then all the equipment in the studio was stolen! So it took another two years again to complete it. Now I'm planning to go home to Ghana in order to send this to the radios, Nigeria as well. Because remember this isn't the music of Ghana, this is the music of Africa gone wild.
Do you have any advice for young musicians?
Advice that I give to all musicians is you have to be strong doing it. Don't lose your confidence in yourself, it's something you have to push through with, there isn't too much opportunity to showcase yourself so you have to take advantage of them by working very hard to get people to recognise it. When you play in a band you cannot be lazy, you have to give all your energy to it.