FEATURED FIND: MILOE’S INDIE POP AND RUMBA FOLK REMINDS US THAT WE’RE NOT ALONE
Congolese-born, Minneapolis-based singer/songwriter Miloe gives poetic voice to the African diaspora with his gentle folk and indie pop music.
In the opening of his brand-new music video "Solo," Bob Kabeya, better known as Miloe, walks down the street speaking with his mother about her experiences expatriating from their home in the Congo. "When you leave Africa, or from anywhere where you were born, and move to a new place, you lose a big part of your identity." Earlier, she spoke of the jarring transition from The Congo to the drastically different environs of Minnesota, "The first thing that struck me when i got here was… I feel like it's a silent country. It's like… silence."
To capture this sense of isolation and alienation while simultaneously expressing some pride and appreciation for his Congolese heritage, Miloe chose to cover "Solo" by fellow Congolese expatriate Marie-Pierra Kakoma, who makes music under the name Lous and the Yakuza. "Solo" is a poetic evocation of the cone of silence that can surround you when you're somewhere where no one knows your name. It's haunting, chilling, yet still sounds sweet. You'd most likely never know it was expressing such longing and melancholy unless you happen to speak French.
MILOE - SOLO
Miloe's music is neither here nor there. Speaking on his magical Greenhouse EP, MTV rather precisely put it thus "Miloe's reach exceeds the suburban backyard elsewhere capturing the travelogue of his youth in finger plucks and gently swaying piano." Of course, many parts of Africa have a rich, vibrant tradition of guitar-based music from the Mali blues of Ali Farka Toure to the Bedouin party vibes of Tuareg guitar to the sunny bounce of Soukous music - another Congolese export. And yet, Kabeya's melodies aren't as sunny as what you'll often hear from African music.
MILOE - WINONA
Kabeya's music owes just as much to minimalist Minnesota folkies like Mason Jennings. The combination is stunningly beautiful, not to mention unique and evocitivally poetic. It's like watching the "Fingers of God'' break through a wall of leaden grey clouds over an evergreen forest as winter yawns and stretches its way into Spring. The time could not be more right for Miloe to be launching his unique vision and voice onto the world. The tumult of the last year has, finally, been giving rise to a deeper and more real appreciation of the African diaspora, across time and cultures. It's about time, although the recipients are the luckiest ones of all. Much of the music from the African diaspora is some of the finest music on Earth and this appreciation is mostly just giving them the appreciation and recognition they've deserved all along.
This free-floating, shifting sensation will likely ring true to others, as well. So many of us are rootless, aimless, and wandering now, like so much dandelion dander on the breeze. So many of us are living in that cone of silence mentioned by Kabeya's mother on "Solo." It's not all melancholy, though, (although perhaps always bittersweet). Music reminds us that we are not alone. It gives us a community and, sometimes, even a family, even when we're sometimes many thousands of miles from where we are born. We Are: The Guard are proud to be a part of that global family and community!
J. Simpson occupies the intersection between criticism, creativity, and academia. Based out of Portland, Or., he is the author of Forestpunk, an online journal/brand studying the traces of horror, supernatural, and the occult through music, fashion and culture. He plays in the dreamfolk band Meta-Pinnacle with his partner Lily H. Valentine, with whom he also co-founded Bitstar Productions, a visual arts collective focused on elevating Pop Culture to High Art.