The Busy Twist: Journey through sound

Originally hailing from South London, musical outfit The Busy Twist are in their own words “pursuers of global tropical music culture”, crafting a sound that fuses various elements of West African, South American, Caribbean and UK bass music.

With past releases on Soundway Records and The People’s Ear, they’ve now started their own imprint – Busy Life Records.

Inspired by their ongoing trips to Ghana and the relationships they’ve built with the local musicians, much of the label’s debut EP Sunny Side was recording during their first trip there, and again sees the band form borderless music intended for dance floors worldwide.

With four compositions led by singer Zongo Abongo, we asked the Northern Ghanian alongside Busy Twist’s Ollie and Oli Cole to each pick out some of the sounds and movements that have helped inspire their latest project and individual journeys through sound.

Ollie Twist

1. Ochea Special – Paulson Kalu Afrikanah and his stars 25

It was when we first discovered highlife, we heard this this song and the riff at the beginning instantly stood out to me. It gave me the idea to create a feel-good, up tempo soca / afro beat style track, which ended up turning into the song, ‘Friday Night’, which we released via Soundway Records. It was one of the first tunes made under the name, The Busy Twist. Our latest EP ‘Sunny Side’ is very much inspired by this same essence of this feeling.

2. Joy Ride riddim

This was actually the first physical CD I had ever owned. I bought it in St. Lucia when I was about 7 years old. It was one of the biggest riddims at the time and could be heard blasting out on soundsytems and radios all over the island. The feel good vibes and bounce of the riddim just stuck with me, and to this day, it’s one of my favourite and most influential riddims behind my love of Dancehall.

3. Kwesta – Spirit ft. Wale

This is a more recent song I’ve been really inspired by, the beat is a unique blend of pop, South African house and hip hop. It carries a mellow, laid back vibe but also an uplifting and driving feel behind it, complimented by a dope vocal from Kwesta to match. Even though on first listen I didn’t understand the lyrics, I could feel his message through the energy of the track which gave me a feeling of ’spirit’. Wale, who originally is from Nigeria is an artist I rate as a hip hop fan too, and it’s good to see him featured on this wave, helping promote the cross culture collaborations. I also love the video which is the perfect concept for the song, as it captures the spirit of different people and cultures in a cool, artistic style.

Oli Cole

4. Tabu Ley – Kafal Mayay

Definitely a favourite at the moment, proper relaxing and a beautiful vocal from the Congolese Rumba legend, Tabu Ley Rochereau.

5. A.B. Crentsil – Ehurisi

I can never get bored of this track, it gives me such a nice feeling and instantly takes me way to a sunny place, which is what we were aiming for with this ‘Sunny Side’ release. Too much love for the Ghanaian don A.B. Crentsil, too.

6. Orchéstre Baka Gbiné playing “Ima Gati” – album version [from Cameroon]

A great video of Orchéstre Baka Gbiné doing their thing in the jungle in Cameroon. I’d definitely recommend checking out the rest of their stuff, they’ve been a huge influence on all of us, especially on our latest ‘Sunny Side’ EP.

Zongo Abongo

7. Amakye Dede – Beautiful Woman

This is one from Amakye Dede. The topic of the song relates to me because its about this one girl I met who was a gold digger that took my kindness for weakness. I helped her in so many ways, bought her so many gifts, only to find out she was just using me to satisfy her needs. She managed to convince me not to be bothered about seeing her with other men and she got into the habit of drinking and smoking, so whenever she went out, I would play this song to console myself, which eventually inspired me to get over her. She asked me why I’m so interested in playing this particular song so much one day and my answer was ‘find your way beautiful woman’.

8. A. B Crentsil – Atia Special

This feeds into a memory of a time when I was just 9 years old. I had run away from my home in Tamale in the northern part of Ghana, where my family originates. My parents at the time were staying in Accra and I was not happy in the north because I was being mistreated, so I decided to leave in search of my parents. I had no money with me, so I lied to the bus instructor telling him my mother was just sitting further back on the bus. When we got to the last stop, everyone got off and I had to catch another bus to get to Kumasi and then I could find a connection bus to Accra. All the buses took the same, so when I approached the next bus, the instructor asked me who I was travelling with. I told him that my mother had mistakenly left me behind when i went to buy some water, so they were worried for me and immediately put me on the next bus to Kumasi.

By the time we arrived it was night and everywhere was dark so I found a bench in front of a shop store and I went to lay down to rest. Whilst laying on it, I heard this song playing from a bar close by and said to myself, let me just go to the music so I can enjoy the song before coming back to sleep. When I got outside the bar, little to my knowledge it was actually owned by one of my elder cousins. He saw me and was very angry I was here all alone and immediately took me to his house, where he phoned my parents in Accra. They were so worried as my family from Tamale had already called to say I had gone missing, so the following day he gave me some money and put me on a bus to Accra, where I was reunited with my parents. So this particular song reminds me of him, who has since passed away.

The Busy Twist’s Sunny Side EP is out now on Busy Life Records. 

Order it here.

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