Adriano Adewale of AKA Trio discusses the joy of performance and the formation of the group

Each and every AKA Trio performance is a joyous affair. The sensitivity and virtuosic ability of guitarist Antonio Forcione, kora player Seckou Keita and percussionist Adriano Adewale grants the group an immediate musical connection, which not only translates to the audience, but also makes performing extremely fulfilling for each of them. While they hail from different countries in different continents: Antonio from Italy, Seckou from Senegal and Adriano from Brazil, they have found common ground through music and a variety of other interests, which has in turn taught them valuable lessons about themselves. Speaking with percussionist Adriano Adewale, the warmth and positivity that permeates their music is evident in his tone, as he speaks so enthusiastically about the music the band make, the places to which they travel and the hobbies they share away from the stage. Find our interview with Adriano below and pick up tickets for AKA Trio’s performance at Band on the Wall on 21st November here.

How did the three of you meet and begin playing together? When you did so, did you bond over any particular musical ideas or shared ambitions?

AA: ‘We met quite a while ago. I first met Antonio in 2002. We had a friend in common, and Antonio heard a recording of me and Georgia — that friend — and then we hooked up because of that. We started playing and we’ve been collaborating together ever since. Antonio and Seckou had a concert together at this beautiful church in London, and the concert went really well, so after that, we three got together and when we started playing, it was a joy right away. We got on together, we could understand each other musically — one should not take it for granted, it doesn’t necessarily happen straight away — we were really happy with that. Our love for rhythm, for grooves, for melodies, for harmonies, the sound of the voice… all seems to belong within all of three us. I think our shared ambition was something like: this wish to share the joy we have when we play music, but also, the joy we have when we play music together, as AKA Trio.’

You each wear such joyous expressions when you perform together. Can you share with us your thoughts about the joy that music can bring to life, and the emotions it elicits from you when you perform?

AA: ‘Yes, what you see is what we feel. I think we are three kids playing on stage. We play in the sense when like: kids play, kids having fun, kids enjoying themselves, teasing each other, trying things out, that’s what you see. There is that license for freedom. I think that music is really powerful, it can transform people’s lives. It has transformed the lives of all of us in AKA Trio, it has taken us to where we are now: now we’re all away from our home countries, based in a country where we were not born, and that’s due to music. Music takes people from one place to another, it makes people meet other people… the emotions you have, can lift people from perhaps a sad day, but it can also trigger some amazing memories. There are many things that go through our minds when we perform. If you want perhaps to mention one, I think it’s this: just license to be free, it’s this freedom, this playfulness.’

You each hail from a different continent, experiencing different cultures and speaking different languages as you grew up. What have you learned about your bandmates’ heritage and upbringing during your time together, and has that knowledge informed your perspective on your own heritage?

AA: ‘It is fascinating to be performing with people from different places. We always learn much about life, about different ways of looking at the same thing. That goes from food, to music, to sport, to life in general. It is something that everybody in the world should be exposed to, because it’s fascinating how you can learn, and how it makes you look at yourself in a different way. Yes, we share many things that we’ve done in common, but in different ways, and there is one thing that we have all done as kids, which was to playing football. We all loved playing football, and football is something that is really important in all of the countries that we come from. Of course, music is something that, in Senegal, Italy and Brazil, is very very much in the hearts of the people. Of course, food: the Italian food, Senegalese food, Brazilian food, all with a great difference but also, lots of similarities there. Those different ways that we also meet; we find each other through music, but also through other cultural similarities.’

Music has taken you to some fantastic places. What’s the most interesting place you have had the good fortune to visit, and is there anywhere you’ve yet to visit, but hope to through your work?

AA: ‘Yes, we’re constantly travelling around the world, and absolutely, music has taken us to see fantastic places, beautiful! Sometimes, places which are in trouble as well, where music can heal people and bring hope to people. We’ve visited loads of places, but we are yet to visit the whole world… that would take ages! I think there are many amazing places out there to visit, it’s hard to name just one. I would like to say that we feel very special to be travelling around the world to make music, and each place is very special in its own way.’

We know that each of you are virtuosic musicians, but does anyone in the band have a hidden talent that is less well known? 

AA: ‘Hidden talents… yes, there might be some hidden talents there that even we don’t know yet! Well, I know, Antonio likes drawing and is very good with drawing art, Seckou is a great footballer, he plays football really well, I like cooking… but they’re not hidden any more, we all know this! It will be interesting to find out.’

Have you ever heard the music of Trio AKA, a band from Angola active during the late 1980s? If not, what do you think of their style…and their band name?

AA: ‘Wow, no I had never heard that music! Trio AKA, and from Angola. I love it… I love that style: electric guitars, really groovy, you can really dance to it, it’s uplifting music. Yes, what a great name for a band!’

Photo credit: Steve Lacey