Culture Talks

Culture Talks… An interview with Ayo Salawu

The Roundhouse Rising Festival has annually given young artists the platform that is crucial in taking the first steps in a competitive industry. Having started on Wednesday 21st February, it also presents the opportunity for those interested to hear the artists that will likely inhabit the radio waves (or streaming service suggested tracks modern people out there) in the coming years.

Ayo Salawu is a young drummer in the London jazz scene who, as he tells us, has been learning his trade on the circuit for various artists since leaving academia. Quickly making a name for himself, Ayo will take to the stage at the Roundhouse Jazz Re:freshed night this Tuesday 27th February, this time accompanied by a band of his own – Ayo Salawu and the Jazzadelics!

Tickets for Jazz Re:freshed at Roundhouse Rising Festival 2018 are available here – Roundhouse Rising 2018 Jazz Re:freshed

Hi Ayo, thanks for answering some questions for the site! Could you introduce yourself, your background, and a little bit about what you’ve been up to over the last year?

My name is Ayo Salawu, I’m a freelance musician and I’ve been working full-time as a drummer since I finished my studies late 2016. Before then, I grew up in the Kent area where the music scene wasn’t all that great. This led me to want to study music in a place where I can connect with other musicians while learning more about music.

Since I graduated in 2016 I’ve been working with Pop Jazz artist Julia Biel, afrobeat band Kokoroko, and I now have my own project starting this month of February, our first performance being for the Roundhouse Rising Festival; an opportunity granted to me by Adam Moses which I’m grateful for.

Others I’ve had the pleasure of working with so far are Hamish Stuart, Snake Davis, The Fontanelles, and Soothsayers.

Who do you consider as being influencers in your style of playing?

Bands, artists, and drummers who have an influence on my playing and what I write include The Brecker Brothers, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Butcher Brown, Dennis Chambers, Robert Glasper, Robert Sput Searight, Tony Allen, Corey Fonville, Brian Blade.

You’ll be playing at the Roundhouse with Jazz Re:freshed in late February which we’re looking forward to coming down to. How has Ayo Salawu and the Jazzadelics and your association with Jazz Re:freshed come about?

It came about through a gig I was doing with Kokoroko for Jazz Re:freshed in which Adam Moses was in attendance. After the gig was over he had liked what he heard from me on the drums and asked me if I had my own project which I didn’t at the time. He told me to contact him once I had my own thing going on and he showed full interest in supporting me once that happened.

Fast-forward about 5 months later around summer 2017, I received a call from Adam and he asked if I had anything yet. I didn’t, however he gave me the date 27th of Feb 2018 and asked if I’d have something ready by then. And that’s how the Roundhouse Rising Festival opportunity came along.

Have you anything coming up in the way of future collaborations, releases, or shows that people can catch you at?

The main artist I’m drumming for, Julia Biel has just released her new album on 09/02/18 so from March onwards we have a good number of shows and tours coming in the UK and internationally. The next London show is on 07/06/17, however sooner dates are likely to present themselves so keep a lookout! For Kokoroko our next show is on 08/03/17 at The Jazz Cafe in Camden and more will be coming up this year.


A specially selected Spotify playlist from Ayo and from TriForce – both of who you can catch at the Jazz Re:freshed night at The Roundhouse – will be posted in the ‘Curated‘ section of CV

Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions Ayo!

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