En 2016, était sortie une compilation consacrée à la scène nigériane des années 1980, Doing it in Lagos. Un musicien camerounais, Nkono Teles, était inclus avec “Be My Lady”.
Love Vibration, qui vient d’être publié, se penche un peu plus sur ce “pionnier“ de la musique électronique au Nigeria.
Six morceaux, issus de ses trois albums solo (Fiesta Dancin’, Party Beats, Afro Music Party), présentent le travail de cet innovateur. Il a introduit la boîte à rythmes dans la musique populaire locale, loin du makossa de son Cameroun natal et at créé un son boogie-funk, base sur laquelle il a produit les albums de nombreux artistes nigérians.
One of a small handful of pioneers of the Nigerian electronic music scene in the 1980s (alongside the likes of Jake Sollo & William Onyeabor), Teles was known for being tapped by over 100 musicians to feature on, produce or arrange their music. The list of ’80s Nigerian records that his sound and style embellished is seemingly endless: Steve Monite (he arranged and produced the music on the Only You), Dizzy K, Peter Abdul, Odion Iruoje, Steve Black, Rick Asikpo, Feladey, Charly Boy, Majek Fashek & Sonny Okosuns, to name just a few, all engaged his enigmatic production and keyboard services throughout the 1980s. He became known as the first person in Nigeria to push the use of the drum machine into popular music and created a unique and original boogie-funk sound combining these new beats with guitars and an array of new and affordable synthesiser sounds that started appearing in the early 1980s.
Teles’ first break came as a keyboard player in Tony Allen‘s new solo band, right after he had split with Fela Kuti & the Africa 70 at the start of the 1980s. He travelled up to Kaduna in the north of Nigeria only to find that the sponsor had pulled out of funding Allen’s band and was stranded in the city. Whilst in Kaduna he met Nigerian artist Steve Black who invited him to join his band. Steve remembers his first encounters with Nkono: “Someone told me there was a Cameroonian boy here that plays keyboards. He came to the studio and he was good, but he only played Cameroon music, mostly Makossa, but I knew he had potential. I said to him – “We have to change our musical style, let’s play some funk”. We listened to Cameo, The Crusaders, that kind of stuff. He spent hours on end listening to Cameo!”
“After that, Nkono came back to Lagos and every musician wanted to record and was looking for session musicians. When Nkono was in the studio with you he would contribute to the recording. He would arrange, he did a lot of the studio, so everybody liked Nkono. Most other musicians would come to the studio, just do what you ask and that’s all, but Nkono wasn’t like that. He would take over, produce and arrange. Once Nkono discovered he could produce, he set up his own production company; everyone began taking their demos to Nkono and he would produce them.”