2018 : Everyone’s just winging it and other fly tales – The Garden / Lusafrica
East African urban stage prodigy
Bill Ochieng Sellanga was born at the heart of the Rift valley in Nakuru in 1982. The East African urban stage prodigy grew up in Nairobi nerdly passioned by books of all kinds but his ears didn’t miss out the clubbing ambiance of Matutus (the Kenyan buses), his mom’s religious chants nor his father’s vintage Congolese sounds.
It is only later when he entered high school that he got involved in music by directing the school’s choir with no training whatsoever following his instincts. It was the moment when the creative teenager realized his dimension as an artist.
After entering the University of Kenyatta with a sports major he met a few talented and dreamy happy campers and together they launched “Just a Band”. The name expresses their will to simply be a humble group sharing their good music. Being a collaborative experience, that very unique project was like a revolution in the local musical landscape.
The fist album untitled “Scatch to Reveal” came out in 2008 with a strong electro house sound sparkled with funk and hip hop and an owned-up spirit like Gorillaz, Daft Punk or Basement Jaxx. Then in 2009 came out “82” – as all the members were born that same year – whose singles “Ha He” and “Huff + Puff” became viral hits; the second one was selected to appear as soundtrack on Netflix series Sense 8. The third album called “Sorry for The Delay” was then released in 2012 sealing for good Bill’s fate as he decided to focus on music.
In 2013, Just a Band had the opportunity to perform to the Red Hot + Fela Live project along with prestigious from the continent and the US such as tUnE-yArDs, Questlove, Spoek Mathambo, TV on the Radio, Tony Allen, Angélique Kidjo, Childish Gambino…
Bill chose to go solo after that experience and went on and took part in different programs and residencies (1beat in the USA, Red Bull Music Academy in Tokyo, Tedx in Rio De Janeiro) before releasing his first EP “We Cut Keys While You Wait” in 2016, a project allowing him to define his own sound and explore new universes. He also is currently working on album of African remixes for Goldlink, his own production label.
While he grew up to the Kenyan Urban Sounds (such as those from the Ogopa Deejays label) and to what his family would listen to (Tabu Ley Rochereau, Franco, San Fan Thomas, Sello “Chicco” Twala…), the musician takes his inspiration from international references: Michael Jackson, Chic, Stevie Wonder and that funk and disco era, and of course what 2Pac and Puff Daddy did – “California Live” being a real revelation for the young student of Nairobi always found of quality productions and keen of new sounds.
Bill is a crazy and productive experimenter who doesn’t approach music as a frame but rather a key to push one’s limits and to enjoy the freedom of endless creativity. He has become the kind of perfectionist producer to defend tooth and nails the integrity of his musical research backing up the level of his writing.
“Everyone’s Just Winging It And Other Fly Tales’, his first international album will drop Fall 2018. The title evokes the idea that human beings just float through life trying their best through successes failures and that life is no quiet journey…
The album is sparkled with spontaneous and rich collaborations among which Sampa the Great, Petite Noir or Nneka; but also Kenyan personalities such as Muthoni Drummer Queen, Sage…
His stage name refers to an Australian cartoon he used to watch as a kid – Blinky Bill, a brave little environmentalist koala. This nickname has been following him since his teenage years.
It will have taken time, success, an unstoppable creative will and strong work discipline for the dreamy little boy who faced the opposition of his parents and siblings towards his artistic dreams, to make himself a spot onstage in a country generally hostile to that kind of path and offer the world his first internal production.