This London duo is blending their African heritage, music, and British experiences into a fresh and eclectic sound.
I had the pleasure of interviewing the incredible duo, Afro Comb. The group is composed of Caira Naomi and Denzel Nonso, who are from London, UK. Their sound infuses soul, jazz and hip-hop, usually made in their home studio. Their distinctive sound is paired with vibrant visuals; they are true creatives who direct their visuals and collaborate with their equally talented network of friends. This is seen in their newest project – “Faith?,” which has been streamed 30,000 times since its release this Easter. They are one of the hottest new artists coming out of the UK who have meaningful lyrics and an eclectic sound.
How did you guys meet?
Caira: I went to a friend’s birthday party with my girls; Denzel was there with his boys and our energies gravitated towards each other. From that night our two groups of friends merged, and we’ve been a little family since. What is so special about our relationship and friendship group is our creative overlap, outspoken personalities and infectious motivation.
You guys are a couple, in business and living together. What is it like and how do you make it work?
Denzel: We started living together 6 months into our relationship and it’s been nearly 4 years since. Of course, there are ups and downs, but we have a level of maturity and understanding that our love and unique circumstances will feed our music; if anything, it makes our words rawer and more relatable. We are equally invested in one another which creates a strong foundation of mutual goals and dreams.
How did you come up with the name Afro Comb?
Caira: Denzel started growing his hair just before we were officially dating and he hasn’t cut it since– which I have now put into dreads. The connection we have with our hair is a very personal one, yet we believe it is a powerful symbol for our strength and history. This is a question we often get, inspiring a mini project ‘Our Name; Our Hair’ on YouTube.
How was the song “Faith?” created?
Denzel: Caira picked up “Erykah Badu – The First Lady of Neo-Soul” by Joel Mclver and after the first day of reading it she came home and wrote her verse. I instantly started to vibe to it and once I wrote my verse, we knew it would be a banger.
Your video ‘Faith?’ is beautiful! How was that visual creation process for you both?
Caira: Our friendship group has a huge part to play in the making of Afro Comb. Each of us hold a creative dream and an artistic talent, from illustration to jewelry design. The time and space for us to work on a project aligned for “Faith?.”
Ayesha (@aayeshasureyaa), hand-made the South Asian inspired jewelry we were wearing, and also took many of the press shots we have published, Sadie (@Flowerarmour), basically brought the whole set with her as well as using her infamous film camera to capture our rawest moments.
Ella (@EllaVioletta), has founded her own production company with her friend Koko, @Stuupid. She sprinkled her magic and edited the footage. Rich (@LostInTottenham) has set up a recording and photography studio with his boy Rubio, Aseptic Studios; which is where the video was shot; filmed by the two of them. The Yellow screen in their studio was the starting point of our storyboard.
Also, Domo (@DomoGorille) amongst his many talents, has a style of illustration that is so distinctive, it was only right that he designed the piece that strung it all together, the single’s artwork.
What frustrations do you experience being artists of colour?
Denzel: By being a Black boy from London, people will assume that I’m a Grime or Trap artist. I love both genres and they have contributed to my love of music and my style, however it is frustrating that society continues to put me in a box.
Caira: We have a catalogue of songs we are yet to release, some of them are direct and unapologetic in the way we address Black issues. It’s difficult being outspoken in an industry run by rich, white men. We don’t ever want to dumb down our message, so we need to be strategic about how we deliver it, compared with other artists who may not need to be as careful.
What advice do you have for upcoming artists of colour?
Caira: In University, I found it difficult to be the confident, Black woman I know I am. After leaving, I found a more grounded, self-assured version of myself. The love I now show myself, a love that my mum has always ingrained into me, is now able to shine through my art. One thing I would advise, is that it is easier said than done to stay true to who you are. Remain yourself, throughout the whole process of finding your truth.
Denzel: At the root of every sound, is a black musician. The soul and power from our ancestors are what drives me. I would advise people to start reading and actively seeking knowledge to empower themselves.
What are words of wisdom that you take with you everywhere?
Denzel: When it comes to music, we want our words to be relevant in 20 years and for it to still resonate with future generations. We always say that ‘the mix will never be finished’ and it’s true. It will never be perfect, art never is but to be honest, neither is life. All you can do is ensure that you are showing the world the absolute best version of yourself.
Have you had to follow your intuition and if so did it influence your musical journey?
Caira: I was studying a chemistry degree whilst fighting a subconscious war with visuals arts. Science and math will always fascinate me, but art gives me meaning and motivation that, even as a writer, I find hard to describe. Although I know my mum would love for me to be following an academic path, I can see through her strong exterior that she loves what we are doing, and I have confidence in our potential to make her proud.
Who are some of the artists you are listening to now?
Denzel: Although we have an eclectic and personal taste, the music made by our peers will always inspire and motivate us. Our friend Domo Gorille collaborated with us on our debut single, “Bills + Tax” and are always working on songs together. We have an afro-beat inspired song coming out soon with Ferno too!
Caira: We heavily respect artists like K the Infinite, Lorde Apex and Cairo Mia as they are emerging into the industry as we are. We will always support underground musicians and embrace their sound as much as more established musicians. Some of our favorite artists like Greentea Peng, Little Simz and Kojey Radical have broken through the glass ceilings put on underground musicians and it only inspires us more.
Lastly, In the midst of Corona, how can people support you?
Denzel: Firstly, eternal thanks for all the support we have received so far! Keep Listening to “Faith?” and follow our socials, subscribe to our YouTube channel and keep an eye out for future releases.
Stream Afro Comb on all major streaming platforms and venture through their website for more information.
Check out their post on our Instagram page.