22-year old MOKO is a talented music artist that has a mesmerizing style and powerful vocals. Her music style is similar to the music from the 90’s era, drawing influences from Soul, Gospel and House music, but has a very modern twist and soulful spin on it. Right now there is not an artist like her, which is why we love her even more.
Hailing from South East London, the British Soul singer and songwriter – birth name Diane Nadia Adu-Gyamfi – discovered her vocal talents while in the choir of her local church and previously performed with the London Community Gospel Choir. However, she didn’t immediately pursue a career in music and went on to study English Literature in Goldsmith University, where she met and made longtime collaborators out of producers Imposters. Coming off releasing her demo song “Summon The Strength”, MOKO sold out her first live performance at Birthdays in Dalston in April 2013, before signing to MTA Records/Virgin EMI Records in July 2013, on the back of radio support from BBC Radio 1, Rinse FM and BBC 6 Music as well as performances at Glastonbury, Lovebox Festival and the seminal Boiler Room.
It however wasn’t until she featured on two songs on Brand New Machine, the third studio album from her label bosses at MTA Records Chase & Status, that she burst onto the mainstream consciousness; most notably “Count On Me” was released as the album’s second single in September 2013 and charted at number five on the UK Singles chart, while topping the UK Dance chart. With the success of that single, MOKO went on the road with Chase & Status, supporting the veteran production duo on their 11-date UK arena tour, with highlight performances at The O2 in London, Manchester’s Phones 4U Arena and The SSE Hydro in Glasgow especially.
MOKO released her debut EP Black in October. Self-produced with production collective Imposters, the EP consists of four lush Electronic/R&B tracks which highlight her individual talents as a solo star, following her success as a guest on the Chase & Status record. “Freeze” the first song on the EP is the perfect song to kick off the EP with as it immediately draws the audience in with its Electro/Soul style. Starting off as a slow-building melancholic yet ethereal work of art, with its musical milieu wrapping itself beautifully around MOKO’s hauntingly beautiful voice, “Freeze” quickly transforms itself into a head-nodding dance number with fast-paced drum patterns and a synth-heavy bassline, before descending back into its original solemn state and exploding again out of itself in glorious fashion.
Another great song on the Black EP is “Honey Cocaine” which was debuted in the weeks that preceded the EP release and helped create a huge buzz and willing audience for the record. Serving as the curtain call for this EP, “Honey Cocaine” is very reminiscent of 80’s Soul/Disco music but also provides an updated 21st Century Electronic R&B sound that gives the song its relevant feel. Backed by a strong electronic milieu which is built around MPC drums and synth arrangements, “Honey Cocaine” highlights MOKO’s commanding R&B vocals while the chorus is very catchy, culminating in a rather mesmerizing record.
As an all-round artist and musician, MOKO is one very talented lady and one of the most captivating new artists in the UK right now. With her unique style, approach and sound, it is very evident that she is poised for longevity in this otherwise fleeting music landscape. Her debut EP was quite the captivating affair and was one of the best new records of last year, it drew a massive mainstream audience into wanting more from the London native and the building anticipation for her new music can only be a good thing. MOKO is definitely one to watch – purchase her Black EP on iTunes.
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Words by Joannie Scarsbrook // Edited by Ayo Adepoju