Introducing Kandere and Their Avant-Garde Liquidised Trap

You won’t hear ‘ayy’ flows​ or air horns, rather stories of Fiji and feelings of displacement.
June 10, 2017, 5:18am

Kandere connected by finding kinship, safety and comfort in each other, and it is what Wahe Kavara and Lakyn Tarai write songs about. Theirs is a music that is as brazen as it's beautiful, as Wahe's gothic avant garde production pours over Lakyn's sharp bars. You won't hear any 'ayy' flows or air horns, rather stories of Fiji (where Lakyn is from) and feelings of displacement. Their shared Melanesian ancestry is something that not only brings them together but features heavily in their lyrics. "I'm doing what I want bitch / You're just doing what you can" follows lines about working the night shift and only leaving when the sun comes up. The contrast between flexing and the unglamorous realities of life are cutting yet true,we all want to do whatever we want but we still have to find a way to earn a dollar.

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Kandere's music is a celebration of their blackness and their identity and "BB Goy" is the sum of that. Lakyn told NOISEY over email that "coming out as non-binary was liberating but it was also hard, and it hurt. "BB Goy" speaks to being genderless more than anything." The fetishization of queer and black artists may seem like a far away problem, but Kandere have experienced these downfalls first hand. Unpaid shows, racial profiling and mistreatment has soured their experiences with the music industry yet they continue to persevere.

Kandere have been playing shows for almost a year now and their first release is the mark of something special. "BB Goy" was recorded in a library and mixed in a bedroom, and if Steve Lacy can produce a beat for Kendrick Lamar on his phone, then the limits for Kandere are endless.

Noisey: How would you describe your music to a new listener?

Lakyn: Kandere to me is my reply to the diaspora, to darkness, to my hedonism and using my own body to speak and by all means fight for my identity rather than waiting for somebody else to. Our music is dark avant-garde liquidised trap.

What is story behind BB Goy ? What's the story behind the video? Why is this your first release?

Wahe: We collaborated with New York based photographer and videographer, Xeno Rafael and editor Vaxx Be Dis. This concept blossomed from mutual love of the ocean and the psychic recharge you receive by being near water at night. Starring local artists and event producers Yungkara, iiLay, Vaxx Be Dis and makeup by Bachelorette Beauty Services, we hoped to create the atmosphere of family, connection and grounding. To capture the moment where strength is drawn from. Filmed at Half Moon Bay in Melbourne, "BB Goy" explores our deep connection to the ocean, and how water is the bridge to our ancestral lands, as we are guests on the sovereign lands of the Boonwurrung of the Kulin nation. "BB GOY" is an ode to self-empowerment and knowing your dreams are worth it. Like waves crashing, it depicts an undulating internal dialogue of lazy reads, pep talks and deflections of outside perceptions, you must have resilience to not be washed away. It's a no fuss, yet do not fuck with us self-affirmation of knowing your own beauty.

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Lakyn: "BB Goy" speaks to being genderless more than anything. Coming out as non-binary was liberating but it was also hard, and it hurt. We needed an anthem, a mantra that was personalised and cute. Going into the shoot all we knew was that we wanted to have realness, and that meant that we would have real friends vibing.

You have been playing for almost a year now yet this is the first piece of music you publish online. Why did it take so long?

Wahe: Everything we make is crafted using minimal resources. We recorded "BB GOY" at a library and mixed it in a bedroom. The creation was a huge learning process. We made a million adjustments and had to learn how to pair creative choices with audio production techniques going off intuition and call and response. It wasn't easy but producing our music autonomously was really important and helped us land on a sound that we really fucked with. If we had more resources and access to support, the EP would probably already be out by now.

What drives you to make music?

Wahe: My dad told me once that music is your gift and it's your destiny to share the gifts you have with the world. [It's] your magic, your mana, your spirit. It's something beautiful you can give back to the world. That has stuck with me ever since. Music runs through our blood, it is purpose, spiritual, cathartic and an important form of resistance all in one.

Lakyn: Music for us is the embodiment of god, spirit, energy, beauty, sensuality, performance. It reminds us that we are more than our functionality under capitalism. That we have power, we feel empowered through performance, that we create something moving that people connect too. We feel It's a birthright, it connects us to who we are, blackness, being indigenous people and our legacies.

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What has been your biggest musical triumph so far?

Lakyn: Playing at Transgenre in April was everything. [It was] organized by the incredible June Jones from Two Steps on The Water. A visionary festival. The energy that night was unparalleled and we felt like we were in a room with family literally endowing us with endless mana. We felt really free.

You're both Melanesian non binary folk. Did that commonality bring you together?

Lakyn: I clocked Wahe at an Alterity Collective fundraiser. When they played all I remember thinking to myself was "I want to collaborate NOW". So I slid into their DMs and that was how we linked. I would consider Kandere a family project, we're cousins. I fell in love the first time I heard their cackle. There was this instant feeling of safety, unspoken kinship and dedication to both our respective practices. The first time we met up we laid down the foundations for our song; femmes with guns. The rest is history.

What do you want people to take from your music?

Mahe: That it is ultimately an extension of the both of us. That we live the life. It sounds weird but it's the truest expression of us. This is the way we talk to people and have ownership and control over the distribution of our art. We use music as way to communicate, music is the ability to shrug the introvert and make space for the alternate worlds and realities in our heads and in our being. We want people to share that without taking away anything that's not theirs to have. We don't wanna be easy to chew because our reality is not easy to chew.

Catch Kandere at these shows:
June 10 - Melbourne at The Gasometer
June 11 – Hobart at Odeon Theatre (DARK MOFO)
June 17 – Melbourne at The Night Cat
June 24 - Melbourne at Howler