Pierre Kwenders fluidly dismantles boundaries of genre, country and culture in his inventive indie-Afro electro sound, merging Western and African styles into warm grooves punctuated by impassioned vocals.
Born in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, as José Louis Modabi, Pierre Kwenders (his grandfather's name, chosen in legacy) sings and raps in Lingala, French, English, Tshiluba and Kikongo, mining the languages' lyrical and aesthetic distinctions for peak emotional resonance. A teenage stint in a Catholic-Congolese choir in Montréal lead him towards singing backup with Acadian hip-hop group Radio Radio and crafting his own genre-crossing sound, ranging from western classical to African polyrhythms. Emotionally inspired by self-acceptance, self-discovery and the strength of the women in his family, Kwenders's latest album brought him to Seattle to record and work with producer Fly Guy Dai (aka Tendai Maraire of Shabazz Palaces) creating tracks that move from thumping house, rumba trap and West Coast hip-hop to pan-African influenced instrumentals, jazz horns, rock guitars and indie-Afro melodies. He's supported Arcade Fire at their annual fundraiser for the charity Kanpe, recently teamed up with Dear Denizen's Ngabonziza Kiroko as future soul duo ABAKOS, and hosts weekly residency Méké Méké at Ti-Agrikol resto-bar, spotlighting African and Caribbean flavoured house and global dance sounds.
Strikingly stylish and engaging on stage, live with his band or DJing, the globe-trotting Kwenders comes to MUTEK Montréal as both a symposium panelist and in a hybrid performance, combining his Moonshine DJ skills with live musicians as part of Wednesday's opening revelry.