would be a fitting description for Kristo, a guitarist and vocalist
from Cameroon. He was born in Paris and grew up with his grandmother
in the forested area of southern Cameroon. Hearing the music
at ceremonies such as baptisms, weddings and wakes had a profound
influence on Kristo as a young boy. He began composing songs
for children and was most interested in the percussion he saw
and heard around him.
Kristo's grandmother ran a bar in Eséka and on the radio
there he heard a great variety of music, such as classical,
jazz, r& b, rumba, high-life and makossa - "a very
colourful music world" as he himself expresses it! When
he was 12 years old Kristo received his first guitar and began
playing all the music he had heard on the radio. He joined one
of the bands at his school and then at age 18 formed a trio
to play his own compositions.
The music that captivated Kristo's attention most was 'Assiko',
which can be described as village music. He draws inspiration
for his music from the rhythms of the forest.
Kristo finished high school in Douala, studied Economics at
the University of Yaoundé, then went to Paris in 1986.
In Paris Kristo was very much attracted to working in advertising
and he was successful in getting a technical qualification and
worked in a studio for 4 years. From there he moved into music
studios, becoming a studio bass player. Kristo relates a time
when he met Stevie Wonder and realised it is essential to record
"In December 1994, I was
touring in Ghana with an African
Samy Nja Kwa
Panafest. At the hotel, I ran into Stevie Wonder. I had about
20 of his records at home. When we finished
talking, he asked me if I had some work of mine he could listen
to. I had nothing to show him what I had been doing musically.
That's when I understood that I have to record my compositions."
As well as guitar, Kristo plays bass, percussion, tree trunks,
spoons, forks, bottles and even his own skull!
Kristo performed live at New Morning in Paris in 1997. The following
year he played on the radio and television show "Africa
Live" and took part in the Afro-Pfingsten Festival in Winterthur
Kristo's first album, aptly called Assiko City, was
released in 1997 (with Coco Mbassi
on backing vocals on some tracks), followed by An Sol
Me in 2001. A new album will come out towards the end of
2005. Keep up to date with information on this Afro-Parisian
at his web site: KristoNumpuby