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A talk with Gros Pokossi NGOLLÉ

November 19, 2014 1 Comment

A talk with Gros Pokossi NGOLLÉ

Flashmag this month will meet a globetrotter of  music that played on all continents. Born in Cameroon, at  14 he will be initiated to the bass guitar, later he will play alongside renowned artists of the Cameroonian scene as Ndedi Eyango, Moustick Ambassa, Jean Dikoto MANDENGUE, Vicki Edimo, Alhaji Toure or Roger Saba Lecco to mention only those .
  In 1986 he traveled toFrance to polish his mastery of the art of music and then crossed to Germany, where he will spend 25 years playing music both in the studio and accompanying artists on stage.  He went on tour around the world with the Decoding society  of  Roland Shannon Jackson, James Carter, and Jef Lee Johnson. Later  he will also tour with the Indian jazzist Trilok Gurtu with whom he will immerse in  musical diversity and mixture of genres, then it will be the classical music, with Claude Chalhoub, well known in film music. Meanwhile he will make a visit to the United States and Los Angeles in 1999 to obtain a degree from the Los Angeles college of Music. His experience has allowed him to work and guide on the scene  new artists such as Ayo'o, Nneka, or Y'Akoto. Currently based in Chicago Gros Pokossi NGOLLE is our  guest star  this month in the following lines he tells us a little about himself and his art.
Flashmag:  hello Gros Pokossi NGOLLÉ, we are happy to have you as  our guest star  this month. A page which has seen over the years famous artists such as Ray Lema, Sally Nyolo or Tweet, to get to the aim of this talk, first the inevitable  question,  why did you choose the music? `
Gros Pokossi NGOLLÉ: Well  when I was 14 one of my neighbor  in  Nkolndongo at  Yaoundé, the capital city of  Cameroon was on vacation, from France he had brought with him several guitars he had distributed to kids at first I was a little shy I didn’t really want to play, but I realized that all my buddies thought only about  playing  music and I was on my own,  alone in my corner then one day I decided to play  with them and I got addicted , I decided to play the bass guitar I made it  my specialty and I continued until today.
Flashmag: how didyour family reacted to your choice?
Gros Pokossi NGOLLÉ: My father told me if that's what you want to do, go ahead but my son atleast be sure  to feed your family
Flashmag: why did you decide to travel toFrance ?
Gros Pokossi NGOLLÉ:  I felt cramped in the country, I  had to discover different backgrounds so I went to France.
Flashmag: AfterFrance you crossed toGermany and Berlin how you filed your luggage in Germany?
Gros Pokossi NGOLLÉ: After France had my residence  visa of 3 months was about to expire so I went to Germany at the time it was the only country where  as a Cameroonian you could go without visa. In the  meantime my license to work in France was granted but because unfortunately I was not in France at the time, my work permit in was cancelled so I had to stay  in Germany in spite of myself. Thus begin a long career, I also remember that in my debut in Germany  I was welcomed  in Hamburg by the father of  a well-known Cameroonian footballer Choupo Moting.
Flashmag: Someyears later you began working with the American group The Decoding  Society  how this happened ?
Gros Pokossi NGOLLÉ: While I was still in Cameroon in the early 80s' I met Roland Shannon Jackson, the  front man of the  Decoding Society, we stayed in touch for a while  and one day in 1994 he asked me if I could join them on tour it was a surprise trip I did not really expect, so I started to work with the Decoding  Society for over 2 years I became a regular in the United States, and in 1999 I  went back  to school. I graduated from The College of Music of  Los Angeles, in California.
Flashmag: Speaking   about  music school did you think it was important for you to attend a school of music?
Gros Pokossi NGOLLÉ: Yes, definitely, it has filled some of my shortcomings and for me it was a new challenge, I am never happy with the present state, I’m always trying to improve my present for a better future.
Flashmag: Later you’ll get other musical experiences working with the Indian jazzist Trilok Gurtu how  was it?
Gros Pokossi NGOLLÉ:A beautiful musical adventure, I had the opportunity to meet a variety of genre of Indian music, and folklore that is not very far from genres that are found in Africa, I worked with Trilok for over a year.
Flashmag: Continuingyour musical adventure you will make classical music with Claude Chalhoub?
Gros Pokossi NGOLLÉ:Yes indeed, a very good experience at the Jazz Fest, which Wayne Shorter  was part of the artists’ line up, Claude Chalhoub, needed someone who can make the groove for his plays, we made contact, and this  was the beginning of a very rewarding experience.
Flashmag: you are amongthe musicians from the shadows you are behind the artists on stage or recording in the studio how do you live this situation yet without people like you there is no production. Possible?
Gros Pokossi NGOLLÉ: This is true, but everyone has to do their work, I doesn’t bother me, there are those in front, while we are behind and we have to do whatwe have todo, and then I also believe  that when the time will be right  I  would do a little more proactive stage, but for now I'm focusing on what I have to do.
Flashmag: you helpedthe careers of new artists such as Ayo'o, Nneka, or Y'akoto, how were done these meetings?
Gros Pokossi NGOLLÉ:  the German scene  often evolves in a closed circuit, the musicians know  each other every one knows who is doing what. So legitimately we approached and we worked  together I contributed to the major Albums  of Nneka  for example. I am proud of the success experienced by these girls (Ayo'o, Y'akoto) on the international stage.
Flashmag: as an Africanmusician I'd like to have your opinion on the fact that African musicians to this day do not break too much on the American scene yet it is not the talent that is missing, why about you?
  Gros Pokossi NGOLLÉ: The US market is very closed, the American public is not open to other genres of music, for a storefront in the United States generally one  must make the kind that is practiced by the US it’s a fact. While the African music that is still considered the world music, folk music, or ethno, does not always happen. Even if there were major hits like Manu Dibango, and Hugh Masekela.
Flashmag: you're in Chicago for some time now, how is it? Do youencounter other African musicians?
Gros Pokossi NGOLLÉ: In Chicago there are not too many African musicians compared to New York or Los Angeles, but I am in constant contact with musicians such as André Manga, or Prince Ndedi Eyango  who is back in Los Angeles.
For the rest since I am in the United States have done almost all the festivals, Lollapalooza, Coachella, the David Letterman show with Nneka, and many others. Anyway I always thought that it was in the United States that it had to be this is where it happens.
Flashmag: presently what are your projects?
Gros Pokossi NGOLLÉ: Well I think the time has come for me to make an album, it's true someone like Richard Bona made us realize that it was possible to make an album on listening music. It will be a little bit in the genre of listening music.
Flashmag: Speaking ofthe actual trend of music, what about the pop music  which is a music that  virtually doesn’t last  with tubes that disappear completely after 3 months?
Gros Pokossi NGOLLÉ: I think it is a commercial music that is made just for this purpose, to sell quickly and  good if possible, and in any case the high production in the genre necessarily always pushes the previous productions towards the exit, this is what people must understand.
Flashmag: as we are closingthis interview  any advice to future generations and the public?
Gros Pokossi NGOLLÉ: For young people who engage in the musical adventure I say work work work, and  to the public I say thank you to be confident on us.
Flashmag: Gros Pokossi NGOLLÉ  Flashmag and its readership thank you for granting us this interview good luck.
Interview conducted byHubert Marlin Elingui Jr.

Journalist writer

  • best essays - May 17, 2017 1:57 AM

    I didn't know Gros Pokossi NGOLLÉ earlier but now I feel like I've known him my whole life. He's got that personality, the one which instantly clicks. I'm impressed by his attitude towards his career and I hope he continues thriving.

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