Listen to an interview with Cairobi here:
About the album
It’s rare to find such a headily eclectic, genuinely cosmopolitan band as this one.
Cairobi’s four members serendipitously melted together at different times in their lives
from different corners of the globe. Since then, they’ve honed their distinctive brand of
transcendent psych-‐pop in a way that’s always felt organically natural. While reflecting
their diverse backgrounds and upbringings, from Italy and Mexico via France, their
inventive psychedelia sounds exotically placeless, as if it was drawn out of an uncharted
While lead singer Giorgio Poti reveres the songwriting prowess of 70s Italian stars such
as Lucio Battisti and Lucio Dalla, the group’s myriad of global influences includes home-
‐recorded African and Latino music, the experimental krautrock group Can, eccentric
dub genius Lee “Scratch Perry” and psychedelic crossover heroes The Flaming Lips.
Poti and bassist Alessandro Marrosu went to school together in Rome, and Poti met
Cairobi’s Mexican keyboardist Salvador Garza while at university in London. They
overcame language barriers by jamming together, with Garza bringing his Latin-‐
American influences to the mix. Together, they formed their first band Vadoinmessico
but, shortly after recruiting French drummer Aurelien Bernard, they reinvented
themselves as Cairobi, a group that is wilder, more electric and, thankfully, more pronounceable.
Not only do the Cairobi members’ backgrounds merge to create an original kind of
“World Music 2.0” but the recording of their debut album was itself a globetrotting affair.
The self-produced record was written in Berlin and recorded “all over the place,” says
Giorgio, “between Berlin, London, Rome and even New York.”
With band reinvention successfully realised, the album’s overriding theme became
personal adjustments. Much of its intriguing, melodious melancholy stems from the
feelings of social and geographical disconnection that Giorgio and his girlfriend felt
when, in the early days of their relationship, they moved to Berlin as a consequence of
the rising prices that have forced so many
London-‐based artists abroad. “She couldn’t speak the language, she didn’t know
anyone, she didn’t have a job,” Giorgio explains, “so she was feeling quite lost and that
was making me feel very lost as well. But the album is also about the hope for a new start and better times.”
Music was also Giorgio’s means of finding his way through the health problems that
followed. After relocating, he started to suffer frequent, violent migraines that would
incapacitate him for an average of twelve days a month. “I could either stay still, in
silence, eyes shut, or take the medication and hope it worked so I could move on with
my day,” he recalls. “Even when the medicine worked, it would make me extremely
sleepy, so some of the music and lyrics on this record were written in a state of
drowsiness. That part wasn’t particularly fun, but maybe it helped me get rid of some
filters. Luckily, the headaches stopped after about a year.”
The record certainly has a hazy, otherworldly feel but the results themselves are far from
drowsy, as Giorgio’s gorgeous pop-‐song structures are remoulded into lively, more
abstract shapes by his group’s experimental arrangements and exotic time signatures.
“We like to play to lot with polyrhythms,” explains Salvador, “and try to find something
that you can’t quite understand on first listen, and hopefully you’ll never understand it. It just stays floating.”
The hypnotically lush lead single ‘Lupo’ is a case in point, packed as it is with exotic
grooves and synth-dappled psychedelic haziness. “I originally wrote that one a long
time ago, back in 2009,” remembers Giorgio, “but we didn’t like the arrangement so we
came up with this new version, added some parts to it, and it took a completely different
form. That song is about going on a trip out of town with a girl in my first car, a
Volkswagen Lupo. Lyrically, it’s a happy, feel-good song but even that one has a melancholic side to it.”
The record’s other highlights include the dizzily wonky funk of
‘Step Aside’ and ‘Systems Of Mutual Doubt’, which sits somewhere between the bubbly,
electro-tinged freak-folk of Animal Collective and the dreamy, hypnagogia of
Ducktails, with a gentle hint of The Flaming Lips’ sanguine psych ballads. The latter
ends with the refrain “change is all right”, a phrase which neatly epitomises the back-‐
story, concept and overriding message of the album.
Cairobi’s debut album follows 2014’s Distant Fire EP, which was released to much
acclaim via the fresh-sounds-seeking London label Week Of Wonders. Clash
described the EP as “wistful psychedelia akin to Animal Collective”. After an
appropriately sun-soaked festival tour in 2015, the single ‘Zoraide’ was released.
“Walls of grunge-gage fuzz meet polyrhythms and tropical pop”, wrote The Line Of
Best Fit, while Stereogum praised the track’s “fascinatingly off-kilter groove”.