Who is ‘The Bearded Man’? The mystery that shrouds the look, the voice behind the facial decoration, is the decadence of years of searching for that ‘right’ flow, that ‘right’ sound, before realising that what he was searching for already lived and coursed through him. Real music!
Kofi’s uncompromising attitude and distinctive vocals have grabbed the attention of music fans across all genres, due to his eclectic musical tastes, greatly influenced by legends such as Sting, Bob Marley, Fela Kuti, Jay-Z, Nas, Notorious B.I.G, Coldplay and many of the 90’s Brit Pop artists. His flows and subject matters reel you in to his world and what he’s been through. You connect to it as you’ve been there yourself or know of someone who has. His command of the English language yet simplistic nature in portraying his stories has won over the biggest cynics of Hip Hop. He fuses words with compositions that make truly enjoyable songs, not for mainstream recognition, but for those that love and appreciate the art in being an artist.
This is the aesthetics that has governed Kofi. Striping away the braggadocios and self-glorification of a culture that prides itself on what car, what girl, how much, how nice, Kofi Stacks and his Mandem is a voice, a mouthpiece for those that see through the facade that has become modern day hip hop. Though it does sell records and may get a club prancing, what Kofi & The Mandem really want is for the words, the music, to rock festivals and span generations.
Having been a solo artist for much of his career, Kofi realised that his love of music included a live sound that isn’t normally associated with hip hop. He knew that what he liked was different to most stereotypical Hip Hop artists, the Indie bands, the ska grooves, the energy of rock and fluidity and honesty of jazz and blues music. Trying to suppress this realisation was making his creative process artificial and he felt that he would be cheating the fans. The Mandem was birthed. Now his music sounds and feels organic.
The Mandem consist of a quartet of talented musicians that shares the passion that Kofi has for real music. On Base there is Ash, the quick witted groove of the band. Following in his uncles footsteps, Ash picked up the base guitar having heard the unforgettable Queen b-line of Another One Bites The Dust. Five and a half years later and he’s perfecting his talent with the help of influences like Victor Wooten, Marcus Miller, Stanley Clarke and Pino Palladino to name a few. Ash’s eclectic taste definitely adds a groovy dimension to The Mandem.
On the pots and pans is Stevo, the 22 year old drummer with ten years experience, though he knew as a three year old once he knocked the shit out of his uncles drum kit that he just wanted to make a racket. A beautiful sounding racket. From listening to some of his favourites like Travis Barker of Blink 182 and Chad Smith, former drummer of The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Stevo taught himself to play by listening to their albums and now teaches drums himself. Stevo’s skills have been fined tuned through Reggae, hip hop and funk music and from touring in Europe, playing with a full orchestra and playing at the Shepherds Bush Empire for his graduation gig. Having set a record by playing for 60hrs straight in 2008 for the Guinness Book of Records, it’s fair to say that Stevo is the heartbeat of The Mandem.
Nate Cain is on lead guitar. Manchester’s very own son is the self confessed rebel of the band having grown up listening to anti-establishment band Rage Against The Machine. He’s looking forward to giving Liam Gallagher a run for his money in the bad boy stakes of talented musicians though he does show a softer side to his professional character with his love and admiration for complex finger picking guitarist Tommy Emmanuel, who he cites as one of his biggest inspirations alongside John Frusciante and Led Zeppelin as a band. In fact it was when he first heard Led Zeppelin’s music that he knew he wanted to be part of a band and rock arenas. This was cemented and made a step closer when he played at MEN Arena for a Young Voices charity gig. The Mandem have their bad boy, but most importantly, they have their rhythm.
With so much rock, punk and funk influences, it’s only right that The Mandem was completed by a jazz loving sax player, Taurean. A multi-instrumentalist trained to grade 8 in both the violin and the piano, his love is the saxophone, through his mothers love of Ska and Jazz. His tutors then became Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Fela Kuti and Renato D’Aiello. Having performed at iconic venues such as Hackney Empire, Camden’s Roundhouse and in Luxembourg, not to mention opening up for Courtney Pine, Tourean is ready to step from the shadows and be recognised as one of the greats himself. He is definitely the soul of The Mandem.
So, prepare to be enthralled lyrically, receive a few bruises from moshing at their live gigs, loose your voice from chanting out memorable songs, have your soul serenaded instrumentally and most importantly, be fully entertained with real music. Just like it should be.