THE VERY BEST shares new video with Ethiopian community organisation Ethiopia Skate + UK live dates this summer

May 30, 2015






Before The Very Best set off for their upcoming UK tour they are sharing a new music video for the title track from their new album, Makes A King. The album came earlier this year via Moshi Moshi. Recorded in lead­singer Esau Mwamwaya’s homeland of Malawi, Makes A King has been praised as their most ambitious and richly textured album to date. The video was made in collaboration with the community organization and collective Ethiopia Skate. Hopefully this video will spread the word about Ethiopia Skate and encourage more people to donate. Check out the full list of tour dates, watch the video, and learn more about Ethiopia Skate below.

About Ethiopia Skate:

It’s been over two years since a peer group of young skaters, led by then 16 year old Abenezer Temesgen, shared only 7 boards between 25 youth in Ethiopia’s capitol, Addis Ababa. With time they connected with older skateboarders Addisu Hailemichael, Buzeyo Julien, and Yared Aya who each brought their neighborhood crews to the mix­ creating a citywide network of youth interested in skating.

With no place to buy skateboards, the crew created the beginnings of a skateboard scene and start a community organization to support it. American photographer Sean Stromsoe documented this process by taking photos and making videos to inspire the movement. Since then, Ethiopia Skate has been able to get over 100 kids skateboarding with boards donated from Austria and America. They use Instagram to connect with various skaters and travelers, even getting the attention of CNN ­ who did a story on the movement in 2014.

Kids from all backgrounds come together on the weekends to share their affinity for skating, challenging each other to practice ever day. Urban youth who otherwise wouldn’t try to learn English practice their words so they can communicate with visiting skateboarders, creating friendships that change lives in the simplest ways possible. In a place where there are no proper skate spots, this generation shows how to make do with what you have­ power sliding down steep hills in the Piassa district or dropping in on their homemade mini ramp. They aim to build Ethiopia’s first public skatepark and spark a movement that lasts long into the future.



19th July – Dour Festival, Belgium
23rd July – TomThumb Theatre, Margate
25th July – Womad Festival, Malmesbury
31st July – Gentlemen Of The Road Festival, Aviemore
5th August – Headline show at Oslo, Hackney



More about The Very Best:

It’s been a long, strange trip for Johan Hugo and Esau Mwamwaya, the Swedish­Malawian duo behind The Very Best’s exuberant global pop. One which crosses continents as well as musical genres. It’s also a trip, according to Johan, with no end in sight. “We’re constantly evolving,” he says with a laugh. “Not just in the sense that we’re trying to change our sound. But we’re constantly on a new journey which colours the music we make.”

This particular journey began in October 2013, following a performance at Malawi’s Lake of Stars festival when Johan stayed on in the capital Lilongwe to record some demos. Initial sessions were promising, but to really move ahead Johan felt they needed a change of scene. “When we were ready to get into writing and production we wanted to get away from Lilongwe and city life,” he says. “We found a house about five hours drive from the capital in a village called M’dala Chikowa. It was an amazing experience recording there, especially because the community is half Christian, half Muslim. In a world often divided between the West and the ‘other’ it was amazing to see people living in peace and harmony despite differences in religion and culture.”

Living and working in M’dala Chikowa also fed into the new record. Hearing that they were in town, local choirs and musicians would often turn up and perform for them, intrusions welcomed by the band who were keen to incorporate a new variety of acoustic and live instruments into their sound.

“This time we really wanted to make a record that could be played by a band,” says Johan. “Something really organic, so there’s not as many electronic instruments on Makes A King. As well as the sounds of the lake, Johan and Esau again drew on a wide circle of contributors and guest artists. Local Malawian band Jerere can be heard sharing a joke with Esau on the infectious “Bilimankhwe” while anthemic single “Hear Me” is anchored by bass from Vampire Weekend’s Chris Baio and Senegalese superstar Baaba Maal adds his trademark vocal power to “Umasiye”. Yet whether tapping into a vibrant house groove (“Sweka”) or summoning lilting pop harmonies (“Mwana Wanga”), Makes A King remains a southern African album at its heart, with Esau not afraid to reference Malawi’s recent issues with endemic poverty and political corruption.

“The songs are pretty diverse in terms of what’s being said,” admits Johan. “But it does get harder to ignore problems in the world. ‘Hear Me’ was a very personal song for Esau and he wanted to express his frustrations about the lack of progress in Malawi since independence. We’ve always felt our purpose in music is to be a positive force and Esau’s voice touches people without going too deep into political issues. So Makes A King is about celebrating the positive and the negative in life ­ and striving to stay happy through it all.”


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