Roadster Interviews – Kwame Yeboah
Kwame Yeboah (Musical Director)
Keys, Bass, Drums, Guitar, Backing Vocals, Percussion
Born in Ghana, Kwame Yeboah joined the Roadsters in 2009 and his wide ranging musical talents quickly led to him becoming an integral part of the team. A hugely versatile multi-instrumentalist, Kwame plays guitar, percussion, keyboards, drums, and sings backing vocals with Yusuf. He is also a renowned musical producer and his abundance of skills have seen him work with acts such as Craig David, Ms. Dynamite, Stevie Wonder, Osibisa, Kojo Antwi, Mpho Skeef, and many more.
Kwame is the son of A.K. Yeboah, a veteran musician of the Ghanaian Highlife musical movement. He grew up around music and musicians and found a particular affinity with his uncle Paa Gyimah, also an eminent Highlife musician, who helped to fuel his musical appetite. After a youth spent playing to a high level with local bands and musicians, Kwame’s journey then saw him move to Denmark to study Musical Harmony and Arrangement. His studies brought him into contact with prestigious tutors such as Michel Camilo and Danilo Pérez both of whom specialise in Jazz but with Latin influences. Following his studies Kwame moved to London where he began working with Craig David and started to establish a highly respected career as a session musician.
Throughout his musical adventure Kwame has retained a connection to Ghana. He currently runs his own Mix Station studio in Accra where he supports African musicians and places a particular emphasis on championing young talent.
The sheer joy that Kwame brings to music is incredibly infectious. His versatility and mastery on so many instruments gives the Roadsters untold options when it comes to musical arrangements and his positive attitude and enthusiasm make him loved and respected in equal measures.
How long have you been making music / How did you start?
I’ve been performing/recording music since I was 10. Actually, starting from when I was about 6, I used to be a good time keeper i.e. metronome for a few drummers in the bands that lived in our neighbourhood.
I started playing properly when I was about 7, my dad had loads of instruments at home so I always snuck around to play with them when no one was watching. I was heavily influenced, at that time, by my uncle Paa Gyimah, a great guitarist who played me all these very early George Benson cassettes as well as very old Guitar band/Dance band music from the whole of Africa.
What’s your favourite Yusuf / Cat song to play?
I have many, and in my case on different instruments too: “Here Comes My Baby” and “Last Love Song” on drums; I love playing “Wild World” and “Father & Son” on Guitar; “Peace Train” and “I Think I See The Light” on percussion. I also really enjoy listening to Yusuf and Alun perform “The Wind”.
How would you describe yourself as a musician?
I’m a great music lover – I live music, and I’m glad music chose me.
Who are your musical influences?
My Dad Anthony Kwabena Yeboah, Snr Eddie Donkor, Nana Kwame Ampadu, Kofi Sammy, Alhaji K Frimpong, Chick Corea, Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Stevie Wonder, Mario Conage/Ultra Marine, George Benson, Ebo Taylor/Pat Thomas, Kiki Gyan, Osibisa, James Taylor, Cat Stevens.
Could you describe a perfect Sunday for us?
My perfect Sunday would be at home! I usually wake up early, around 6am, and will wake my kids up if they’re not already up. We always eat together, my daughter makes breakfast and doesn’t like to cook alone so most mornings are spent hanging around together in the kitchen listening to music of course!
After breakfast I enjoy a quick jam session with my son who plays guitar or we all chill until lunchtime when we’ll go and eat out as a family.
After dinner, evenings are usually reserved for movies or we go and listen to a band perform.
What’s it like working with Yusuf / Cat?
It’s like doing music today for tomorrow and thinking about how it should be done in the near future, with and also without boundaries.
I’ve learnt a lot from Yusuf and I love being in the studio as well as on stage with him. There’s always something new for every show that I’ll find out about during sound check which I love! No two days are the same and I’m always learning new things
Do you have any other musical projects?
Yes I have a Ghanaian Highlife project with a legendary Ghanaian singer and a couple of musician friends called Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band.
I also have a project called Ohia Beye Ya (OBY) which is another band all about Ghanaian music! We create music which is a blend of Highlife, Fusion, Jazz, Criss Cross Rhythms and many more influences.
I do have a couple more projects in the pipeline which I won’t talk about till ready but they’re all rather exciting!
What musical equipment do you use?
Roland Keyboards and Native Instruments Komplete keyboards, Gretch Drums, Sabian Cymbals, Fender Bass, Crafter and Gibson acoustic Guitars, LP percussion and UAD Apollo soundcards.
Do you have any stories that you’d like to share with the Yusuf / Cat fans?
Not so much a story, but I have one very fond moment recently on our last tour! I had the wonderful opportunity to play at the 2016 Global Citizen Festival in New York alongside Yusuf. The energy of the crowd was very different to what you would get on any other gig. It was beautiful to see, once again, how much passion Yusuf has for a cause and how many people his music can reach! It was very inspiring to be a part of something so big. 60’000 people singing along to “Wild World” is definitely an experience I will never forget and I am grateful to Yusuf for having given me the opportunity to be a part of that.
On behalf of all the fans I’d like to thank you for doing this interview Kwame. It has been great to discover a bit about your musical background and to find out about you as a person too.