A Victoria-area musician is looking to bring the Afrobeats sound to Vancouver Island.
Poncho says he is looking to make a name for himself in the rapidly-expanding pop music genre produced by artists from West Africa and the diaspora.
Poncho’s single, Jah Day, recently topped the international charts on CFUV, the campus radio station for the University of Victoria.
He says coming up in Ghana he found his music was different from what other artists were doing.
“I still found my sound being different and my style being different,” Poncho told CBC’s All Points West.
On Vancouver Island, his style is even more distinct, he says.
At times being based in North Saanich can feel a bit isolating, he says. and others have encouraged him to move to a larger urban centre.
“We can’t all be in Vancouver,” he says. “Some people also here want to have fun and have this style of music in their face, in their ears. They wanna vibe to it.”
Poncho says there has been a global wave of Afrobeats, a broad term for music from West Africa that fuses elements of hip-hop, dancehall, and other genres. His personal style, he says, is influenced by highlife, a genre popular in his native Ghana.
African artists — including Burna Boy, Rema, and Davido — have had recent hits around the world. MTV added the Best Afrobeats Video category to this year’s Video Music Awards. The Grammy Awards announced they will add an award for Best African Music Performance for next year.
The wide-ranging genre has universal appeal, Poncho says.
“We’re just here to make people feel like life is not about stress and struggle,” he says. “I have songs talking about hustle, trouble and all that, but at the end of the day … you have to dance to your troubles and just let it go.”
All Points West7:16Poncho brings afrobeat to the Island
He says his desire to build a music career can be difficult for others to understand.
He recently took time off from his day job to focus on music, leading to people asking him why he would “take time off work that is paying to do work that is not paying at this point.”
Poncho says he feels he has no choice.
“I go to bed I can barely sleep because of the desire,” he says. “There’s this burning desire. It’s bigger than me. This is what I want to do.”
Poncho’s EP, BACKBOYINFRONT, is available on major streaming platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music.