A photo of Nkisi performing on a beach at Nextones. Nkisi is shown in profile, with her decks and electronic sound equipment in front of her.
Somerset House Studios

Grounding Practice: Nkisi

Thu 03 Mar
18.00 - 19.30 (GMT)

An in conversation and live demonstration with musician, producer, and visual artist Nkisi.

In this Grounding Practice talk, Nkisi, the alias of Melika Ngombe Kolongo, gives an insight into the technical and conceptual processes that shape her practice – one that encompasses powerful club production equally influenced by African polyrhythms, hardcore techno, and 70s Italian horror films; fierce 160+bpm percussive DJ sets; and work as co-founder of NON Worldwide, a collective of experimental artists from across the African diaspora. 
Shedding light on her recent research into gesture, improvisation, and investigation of ancient sonic traditions and experimentation, Nkisi is joined in conversation by Eleni Ikoniadou, a writer, theorist and practitioner who specialises in digital art and critical theory, drawing on contemporary sonic, technocultural, and alternative futurisms.

This Grounding Practice talk has been programmed in conjunction with Amplify Digital Arts Initiative (DAI) 2022, an online programme bringing together an international network of female-identifying and non-binary artists and professionals working within the fields of digital arts and electronic music, produced in partnership with British Council, MUTEK, Oi Futuro and Artlab.

About Nkisi

Nkisi produces intense, powerful club tracks equally influenced by African polyrhythms, hardcore techno, and '70s Italian horror films. The London-based musician and visual artist  is one of the co-founders of NON Worldwide, a collective of experimental artists from across the African diaspora. After releasing several digital and vinyl EPs throughout the 2010s, Nkisi's full-length debut, 7 Directions, appeared in 2019. In 2020, Nkisi's new label INITIATION emerges with INT001, a 3 track EP melting rhythmic noise strategies with secret drum languages from Ancient Kongo traditions. As a fierce DJ, Nkisi channels 160+bpm kick drums, metallic hectic percussions and hypnotizes the dance floor into a ritualistic transcendental space.  

Melika Ngombe Kolongo was born in Congo, raised in Belgium, and began using the moniker Nkisi after moving to London in 2012. Gravitating toward the more aggressive side of dance music, yet maintaining a heavy emotional factor as well as a sense of dreaminess, she began producing music in addition to being resident at a club night called Endless. Her first releases, 16 and 21, appeared on Doomcore, the Hamburg-based label run by Low Entropy, in 2014 and 2015, respectively. Along with Chino Amobi and Angel-Ho, Nkisi cofounded NON Worldwide in 2015, and began appearing on the label's compilations. She began hosting a monthly program on NTS Radio in January of 2016, and composed music for installations and theatre performances held in several galleries throughout London and Europe during the next few years. Her first vinyl release, Kill EP, was released by MW in 2017. During the year, she also curated the annual festival held by Wysing Arts Centre in Cambridge, which was titled Opaque Poetics. Nkisi's EP The Dark Orchestra was released by Warp's long-dormant Arcola imprint after it was revived in early 2018. Her debut fulllength, 7 Directions, was issued by Lee Gamble's UIQ label in 2019. The album was inspired by the African cosmology of the Bantu-Kongo, particularly the writings of Kongo scholar Dr. Kimbwandende Kia Bunseki Fu-Kiau. 

About Eleni Ikoniadou

Eleni Ikoniadou is Reader in Digital Culture and Sonic Arts at the Royal College of Art. Her research sits at the intersection of art, theory, and technoculture, with specific attention to sound and voice. Her latest research project, funded by the EPSRC Human-Data Interaction Network Plus, investigates machine learning in Art, Music & the Culture Industries. She runs Fugitive Voices for the MA Visual Communication and is a resident host on Movement radio. As member of the art group AUDINT, with Steve Goodman (kode9) and Toby Heys, she co-edited the anthology Unsound: Undead (Urbanomic/ MIT 2019) and produced a series of exhibitions, under the same name, funded by the Arts Council of England (2018-2020). She is founder and co-editor of the Media Philosophy Series (Rowman & Littlefield) and author of the monograph The Rhythmic Event: Art, Media and the Sonic (The MIT Press, 2014).