#FOCUS: Kazez

Two hearts, one soul. It is more than music with these ones, it’s family.

Starting a band with friends is a thought that often crosses all of our minds as teenagers, even more so for twins. However, following through with such plans is a lot more complicated than it might seem. There’s a lot of courage in deciding to proceed as a two-man unit rather than trying to find your way on your own.

It’s a path that has seen their talents and tastes grow synchronously since they were young kids enjoying the musical genius of the late Michael Jackson on their grandfather’s old CD player. Mimicking his dance moves and memorizing his lyrics eventually sparked a fire within them for music that hasn’t stopped burning since.

They weren’t always preoccupied with music though. The pair were renowned mischief makers as young boys growing up in Isolo, Lagos and even earned the tag “Aki & Pawpaw” for their reputation. It all came to a head when they were shipped off to boarding school at just 8 years old but the experience helped them forge the strong bonds they share now. In fact, they’ve become such good friends that they enjoy each other’s company even when there’s nothing more.

Having a twin can often be like having a living, walking mirror – an image you’ll always be easily compared to and judged against. It can quickly become a tedious affair and many twins have often gone tenuous lengths to separate themselves from their womb-mates. However, rather than highlight their differences, Taiwo and Kehinde Kassim embrace their similarities.

“Nothing [is] better than being able to see yourself without having to use a mirror,” they said.

It’s a statement that sounds ironic when you realize they don’t look all that much alike. Kenny is slightly taller and macho – he used to work out more – with a broad face and Taiwo has a more oval face. It was never about their physical similarities though, they represent for themselves a reflection of their struggles, their passion, and their dreams.

If the duo of Paul and Peter Okoye are the blueprint, Kazez are determined to be the perfection of the process. When asked if they’d ever consider going solo at any point in their career, their answer was crystal clear and defiant.

“Nahh…  We’d rather just have the other person just cough on the song,” they said

It’s certainly better to have more sources of inspiration when you’re developing a new sound but it still takes a bit of a work and a lot of chemistry to combine two musical styles into one enjoyable harmonious tune. The pair have had to refine their music making process over the years to ensure they make the most of each other’s strengths. They’d hardly describe it as a process though. They really just try to explore their creativity as much as possible.

“Our music making process most times is just a vibe. [It’s] not necessarily what we’ve experienced or what we’re going through, we just make the music as the vibe comes and its usually a joint thing but Kay [Kenny] does most of the writing,” they said.

Even their genre of music is left open to interpretation. They’re really only concerned about making good music. They’re the consummate creative souls – two free spirits unbothered about defining themselves any one way. Technical terms and proper definitions are for academics, music is about more than words, about more than melodies, it’s an emotional and spiritual experience.

“…our music lies in the choice of words, our lyrics are what we are, so it’s not influenced by genre but the message and emotion behind every song,” they said.

Their biggest music inspiration? God.

Others in the music industry have also influenced their sound including upcoming artistes like Sinister Beats, Dabu the Gimini, and Tomi Thomas among others. This abundant upcoming musical talent in the country also keeps them motivated to continue to strive towards their goals irrespective of the obstacles. They started out with the management company, B.L.A.O Family Entertainment and even though they’ve since gone out on their own as indie artistes, they’re grateful for how much the outfit contributed to their growth.

There are no relationships without its conflicts but Taiwo and Kenny have learnt not to dwell on the arguments, just to simply move past it. Money can be one of the easiest sources of conflict anywhere and the distribution of their income could have easily become a source of disagreement but they don’t bother sharing it. They always have each other’s backs and that includes financially – being smart with the money isn’t about adhering to a percentage split, it’s about being your brother’s keeper. Their partnership, and even more so, their brotherhood comes first above all else.

A typical day in the Kassim house begins with them waking up to brush their teeth in the kitchen; a bad habit they’re yet to let go of. Taiwo then proceeds to attend to his business as a graphics designer (on his laptop) while Kenny goes to the shop downstairs to resume as a hairstylist. Just two regular dudes trying to make a living. Once the sun is down and the time is right, it’s time to hang out with their boys and hopefully catch a vibe for a song they’ll produce later.

They don’t have any particular time for recording in the studio so it’s all about catching that right vibe and developing it into a fully written and composed song that they can produce in 30 minutes or less. It definitely sounds like an unorthodox process but it’s what has worked for them till date and what landed them a gig at the last Gidifest concert.

“Gidifest 2017…was too litttt!!!  Still getting alotta mad love from there!” they both said with excitement.

The excitement was not unfounded. It’s their biggest achievement till date and rightly worthy of celebration and genuine glee.

It’s not the only achievement these two have managed in their short careers though. They advanced all the way to the quarter finals in the second edition of the Hennessy VS Class competition and even though they didn’t manage to win it all, they’re proud of how far they were able to go. They’re committed to developing their craft and have been applying the important things they learnt during the competition.

It’s a slow steady rise to fame but as the Kazez know, there’s really no other way to the kind of success they dream of having.

They’re not just good musicians though, they also have a great ear for the right sound, showing appreciation for the likes of M.I., Niniola, Burnaboy and Wande Coal. In fact, Wande Coal is at the very top of the list of artistes they’d like to collaborate with.

Taiwo and Kenny still have a long way to go but they also have each other and for them, that’s always been enough.

“As long as we’re together, we’re chilling.”

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