“I Felt Like She Was Screaming at Me”: Musician Dave Okumu on Grace Jones

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Dave is wearing his own clothing and accessoriesPhotography by Andrew Nuding, Styling by Jordan Duddy

In the latest issue of AnOther Magazine, the Kenyan guitarist and producer talks about growing up with Grace Jones’ music, and the impact it still has on his musical output

This article is taken from the Autumn/Winter 2022 issue of AnOther Magazine:

Grace Jones was the first artist that I connected with. My older sisters were huge fans – I remember seeing a copy of her album Slave to the Rhythm in the house as a child. I found that iconic cover artwork by Jean-Paul Goude, where her screaming face has been elongated, so terrifyingly beautiful even though I was only seven at the time. I felt like she was screaming at me, but not in a way that was aggressive. It felt more like a pure expression of vitality and exuberance. The message was simple – just be yourself. Before I had even heard the music, there was something about seeing someone with my complexion being so clearly and unapologetically themselves. It struck a chord right at the core of my being. The power of her expression gave me the licence to be myself. Then I heard the song itself and it really didn’t sound like anything else – it spoke to me in an even deeper way and set me on a trajectory. Grace has been very close to my heart and my musical creativity ever since.”

Known for fronting the electronic trio the Invisible – whose sound the band describes as “experimental, genre-spanning spacepop” – the Vienna-born, Kenyan guitarist and producer Dave Okumu was raised on 1980s pop, funk and soul. His decades-long career has included performances and recordings with the likes of Amy Winehouse, Tony Allen, Adele and Jessie Ware – that last collaboration earning him his second Mercury Prize nomination in 2012, following The Invisible’s own nomination three years earlier. At his studio in London Fields, Okumu continues to compose and produce music for some of the biggest names in the industry, including that first inspiration, Ms Jones.

Make-up: Rachael Thomas. Photographic assistant: Wynston Shannon. Styling assistant: Mary Hovhannisyan

This story features in the Autumn/Winter 2022 issue of AnOther Magazine, which is on sale internationally now. Buy a copy here.