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8 Questions with Paa Kow


There are countless reasons to be awed by the musical phenomenon of Paa Kow. His seamless meld of American funk with African percussive expression. His tight, in-the-pocket drum set style. His fairy tale rise from banging on scrap metal as a boy in Ghana to touring America’s biggest musical cities. Following the acclaimed 2012 debut album, “Hand Go, Hand Come,” Paa Kow is releasing his sophomore project, entitled “Ask,” on August 19th. The rising star of Afro-Fusion took time from tour preparation to chat with Yellow Scene about genre-blending, his evolving style and playing “happy music.”

You just had the pre-release party for “Ask”—how was it received?

Paa Kow: It was a good CD release party. The place was very classy. People showed up, they brought the love, and it was great—it was great. The room had good energy.

And now you’re going on tour. How is it to travel with such a large band?

Paa Kow: I tour with eight musicians. I have a tuba too, so nine musicians sometimes. When I play with more people, it’s because they were on the album. But that is my dream, if I can play for all of them, you know? But going on tour I take less.

How did this album turn out? And how is it different from your first, “Hand Go, Hand Come”?

Paa Kow: It came out good. We musicians, most of the time we’re not satisfied. We always criticize ourselves: ‘Oh man, I wish this could be like that. I wish this could be like that.’ Then there comes a point where you’re like, ‘Let me just let it be.’ For me, my first album was great. ‘Hand Go, Hand Come’ was a great album but then I learned more about it, how to make it more interesting. I think the new album, sound-wise, what I want to hear, it’s better. I think the musicians I chose to record with are great.

Has your music adapted or changed at all since you’ve come to the United States?

Paa Kow: My music career has gone up because I’ve been here. It has become easier for me to understand jazz and fall in quickly to fusing with my traditional rhythm from Ghana. So I kind of have the same ideas, but you can still hear the jazz influence.

Do you ever return to Ghana to play?

Paa Kow: I just came from Ghana last week. I got a call from a guy that lives there, I used to play with him, one of the top musicians there—he called me for a session. So I went, and back home it seems like they are all proud of me, they see me doing good, playing good shows. My name back home it became larger, it became big. They are like, ‘Man I want you to bring your band!’ But usually I go to play sessions. If I get a sponsorship or something like that, I can get it together to bring the band to Ghana and perform at the national theater. My goals, my vision? I want the band to go all over the world. I feel like the stuff I have is unique enough to get to every stage, whether jazz festival or, well, really any festival. Africa, Europe, Canada, everywhere. Play and share the music, you know?

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