Today, Dave Okumu & The 7 Generations announce new album I Came From Love. The album will be released April 14, 2023 via Transgressive Records.
I Came From Love is a tapestry of the Black experience that explores ancestry, the legacy of slavery, what it means to exist in an unjust society, and Okumu’s own family history.
On Okumu’s brand new project I Came From Love, he calls on a star-studded array of guests, including Eska, Kwabs, Wesley Joseph, Robert Stillman, Anthony Joseph, Byron Wallen, Raven Bush, and Grace Jones. Rather than release solely under his name, Okumu has chosen the moniker ‘Dave Okumu & the 7 Generations’, which Okumu sees as “my actual ancestors, the ancestors of others, my musical ancestors, and my descendants”.
The album is a body of work presented in chapters; “You Survived So I Might Live” [tracks 1-4], “The Intolerable Suffering Of (The) Other” [5-8], “Seduced By Babylon” (9-11), and “Cave Of Origins” (12-14).
On the album Dave explains, “The narrative of this record emerged in tandem with the origin of its musical journey, through a rumination on survival, ancestry and heritage. The account of the young west African girl who was transported to South Carolina in 1756 and sold to the slave owner Elias Ball and the subsequent unearthing and presentation of her story to her descendants became an emblematic framework for these songs, opening doors to many aspects of the diasporic experience. The music stands in loving defiance of any forces that would seek to disconnect us from our collective history. As I consciously stand before my ancestors through the medium of this sound world, I proclaim that ‘You survived so I might live’”.
The first single to be heard is “Blood Ah Go Run” which tackles the horror of the New Cross house fire in 1981 that killed 13 Black teenagers in South London. The lyrics reflect the Black community’s feelings of the time, crying out, “Blood ah go run / if no justice no come.”
On the track Dave adds, “Living in an area as culturally rich and diverse as southeast London, I feel touched by an atmosphere of transcendence forged through a particular type of adversity. When you walk the streets and so many cultures are represented within a community, it’s difficult not to ask the questions ‘how did these people get here and what have their ancestors passed through so that I can have the life I am experiencing now?’ The story of the New Cross Fire and the subsequent response from different factions of society is one such trial, embodying a process which came to shape a significant element of the discourse around race relations in this country. Living in this part of London, I want to remember and honor those who lost their lives in that fire as their sacrifice, along with many others, feeds directly into my experience of this world.”
Each chapter will be accompanied by a short film directed by Nicolas Premier, who worked across all the visuals on the project. The first film is “You Survived So I Might Live”.
Nicolas explains, “From the first time I listened to 7 Generations I've been stunned by its cinematographic potential and aesthetic. Also, the way Dave's music encompasses a great diversity of sound sources is profoundly inspiring. It's something we talked about from the start of our collaboration and I knew 7 generations would be one of those where things are said before being formulated because we speak the same language. I consider making films is about composing poetry with images and sounds and music often plays the role of the trigger as it did for You Survived So I Might Live.”
Listen to “Blood Ah Go Run” HERE
Watch “You Survived So I Might Live” HERE
Many musicians find creative freedom working alone in the seclusion of their room, but for Mercury nominated singer-songwriter and producer Dave Okumu, the most fruitful moments in his career have occurred in crowded rooms. “In my teens I was already on this journey where I was reflecting on the significance of relationships,” Okumu explains. “I want to learn how to connect with people and how to communicate because this is what life is about.”
Okumu is the youngest child of eight siblings, born in Vienna, Austria, to Kenyan parents. The family later moved to London when he was 10. Growing up in a musical household, Okumu recalls being introduced to 80s funk and soul by his older sisters and being taught how to play guitar by his brother.
His career took off in the mid noughties’ with the Mercury nominated art rock trio The Invisible. Beyond the band, Okumu also developed a reputation as a producer, session player, and musical mentor with the encyclopedic knowledge and calming attitude to coax the best out of a cavalcade of artists including, Tony Allen, Amy Winehouse, Adele, Jessie Ware, and his hero Grace Jones.
Okumu released his first solo record Knopperz in 2021; an instrumental concept album based on pianist Duval Timothy’s 2017 album Sen Am. It was friend and mentor Lexxx who sparked the soul searching that kicked off his next record after he told Okumu that he was trying to explain who Okumu was but struggled to summarize his vast catalogue.
“There are all these ways into these aspects of who I am and I felt like he was saying, it would be so cool if you could find out how to say who you are in a comprehensive way”. Okumu took on that challenge and in response devised his sophomore release I Came From Love. The album writing and demoing process began in January 2021 at Lexxx’s East Sussex studio The Barn, while early recordings were completed at Okumu’s studio with Tom Skinner on drums, and Nick Ramm on keys, and Aviram Barath on synths.
Okumu was certain he didn’t want to make a standard producer record full of features, but he also did not want to be tied down working with a set band. To aid his vision, Okumu decided he wanted his backing band to change with each record. The musicians featured on I Came From Love were also asked to adopt an alter ego to help them express themselves and their ancestry, and access parts of their personality that they might not otherwise bring out.
“I hope that listeners will feel like they're part of the 7 Generations and when I perform on stage that every member of the band is part of the 7 Generations,” he adds, “That's really what the idea is about and that's why it's not just Dave Okumu. It stands for more than that.”
1. Things (ft. Grace Jones)
2. 7 Generations
3. Blood Ah Go Run
5. My Negritude
6. The Cost
8. Black Firework
11. Get Out
13. Eyes On Me
15. Paradise (ft. Grace Jones)