Watch the full Kilele aftermovie here: 

Sign up for our newsletter to be the first to hear about Kilele 2025. 

Reflections on Kilele - East Africa’s first music tech and innovation symposium

Thoughts on the inaugural Kilele Summit, by Santuri co-director David Tinning.

We had the idea to create a conference that wasn’t a conference, and a festival of music and tech that wasn’t a festival.  We landed on Kilele, a 7-day event that combined music tech workshops, cutting-edge presentations on the future of music, avant-garde showcases and installations, and some riotous parties. 

A note on the name - Kilele means summit or peak in Kiswahili, so although we were trying to avoid ‘summit summit’, it has kind of stuck. However, the idea of reaching a point of elevation for which to share a perspective is a nice one, and wholy in keeping with what Kilele proved to be.

Kilele was a product of Santuri East Africa collaborating with the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna's FWF-PEEK project "Études for Live-electronics", and in particular Bernt Isak - a Norwegian artist and educator who has worked on music projects in the region for 8 years. Santuri was turning 10 during the summit, so Kilele served as a marker of the past decade of East Africa’s musical development, and an opportunity to look at what might be ahead.  

Santuri has been at the forefront of progressive music education in the region, establishing the award-winning Santuri Electronic Music Academy (SEMA) in 2021, training over 200 artists in the past two years and connecting many of those to career advancing opportunities - from releases to collaborations and festivals and event opportunities.

Kilele is the last part of the puzzle in many ways - pulling together Santuri’s network of music friends, supporters and global partners to experience Nairobi’s underground creative scene first hand.  It was important for Santuri and the community here that we join the international conversation on music tech and culture - too often Africa is left as an exoticised footnote, with lip service paid to the ‘ingenuity’ and ‘resilience’ of practitioners here, but very little space given as actual pioneers and thought-leaders. To be able to host KMRU, Nyokabi Kariũki, Monrhea, Afrorack and DJ Raph in a variety of different formats at Kilele made a strong statement, and opened up avenues for the next generation of artists to connect with the global networks who joined to experience this.

Presentations and panels brought new perspectives to the fore - Astrid Bin’s ‘It’s Never Just a Slider’ set out to redefine the musical interface from the western classical trappings, and Nyokabi Kariũki’s meditation of electronic music originator Halim El Dabh expounded on how African artists have have been erased from electronic music history, and her own experiences of how global north critics expect an African experimental artist to sound. Other particular standouts included DJ Raph’s ‘It’s Not in the Manual’, and Sharon Onyango-Obbo’s Never’s Conduit - a dream-like audio visual trip through an African music library in Mainz through the eyes of a contemporary Ugandan artist. Elsewhere the Bomas of Kenya shared their SampleBar project - a folkloric preservation project masquerading as musical interface for remixing traditional instruments in real time. 

Workshops by global tech brands Ableton, FL Studio, Bitwig and Elektron were hugely popular, while the presentations and panels brought new perspectives to the fore. 

The event took place at The Mall, in the Westlands area of the city.  The Mall has become the epicentre of Nairobi’s blossoming music scene, thanks to the progressive mentality of its management team who have been supporting creative communities such as Santuri with cheap rents and plenty of spaces to utilise for parties, gatherings and workshops.  Nestled in the corner of the basement across the way from the Santuri Salon is The Mist - Nairobi’s most experimental club space, supporting and pushing the widest of sounds, thanks to DJ Raph and Shamina Rajab’s stewardship.  Kilele fully utilised this and many other of the spaces in the Mall - including the Fem Lab (established by the team from Goethe Institut), Black Rhino’s OUT Reality VR space, and the stunning rooftop car park that was dubbed Basscamp for the duration of the Kilele week - where delegates and artists gathered for sundown each evening to network and ‘prepare’ for the night program.   

Outside of the panels and workshops, it was here where new connections were made, collaborations forged and plots hatched. Soundtracked by various alums from Santuri’s DJ courses, the Basscamp framed the event and set people up for the showcase program that included performances from Afrorack and Feldermelder, vigliosoni, a live coding performance on Sonic Pii by BYTE Collective, as well as performances from coastal ‘zaire’ band Khonjo Kolio, changanya pioneer Nabalayo, and sets by the UK’s Funk Butcher and Kem Kem.  Friday night saw Mizizi Ensemble  - formed specifically for this event - perform in The Mist  - made up of Labdi Ommes, Alex Hofmann, Monrhea, Nyokabi and Bernt Isak with Tim Grund and Kostia Rapoport as special guests. The result was a mesmerising performance that utilised every space in the venue, with the focus shifting every while to another area and new sonic territories - from raw noise to operatic call and response, to wearable body percussion tech. The space was packed with people, the atmosphere veering between tense confusion and elation. An onlooker told me they were leaving immediately to go home and make new music.


“I have been to many music conferences, and this was by far the most inspiring and exciting one I've ever attended”. - feedback from speaker

The final showcase featured a killer line-up of KMRU, MC Yallah, Jim Chuchu and ¡AC!, Sonic Griot and the Santuri DJs - all powered by the Umojah Soundsystem - a Kenyan built rig sticking true to the Jamaican sound system culture.  The night encapsulated Santuri at 10 - a blend of experimental approaches, heartfelt expression, and bulldozing bass punctuated by the machine gun delivery of Ugandan/ Kenyan MC Yallah - revelling in a home town gig that saw bouts of slam dancing not usually associated with the Nairobi nightlife.

On a personal note, it was hard not to get emotional about the journey Santuri has been on and to see Kilele as the start of something new and fresh for the region. Working with the amazing team that makes up Santuri, it was extremely gratifying to feel that we contributed something vital to the city, and that as a result artists will find new ways to develop and grow. We are already looking forward to welcoming friends and collaborators back for 2025.

David Tinning, March 2024

Stay connected for 2025 info:

Febuary 12 - 18th 2024, - Nairobi, Kenya



And many more! 

Partners & Supporters

Ableton - the leading music tech firm behind Ableton Live and Push

Austrailian High Commission Nairobi - the AHC are supporting the FEMX stream of Kilele, fore-grounding non-male participation in the summit. 

Austrian Science Fund (FWF) - The Austrian Science Fund is the most important Austrian funding organization for basic research. The FWF supports research in science, engineering, and the humanities

Bitwig - Bitwig is an international music software company based in Berlin. The company was founded in 2009 by four music enthusiasts with extensive experience in the music technology industry and a strong vision about new cutting-edge methods of music production, live performance and collaboration.

British Council  - The British Council arts team works with the best of British creative talent to develop innovative, high-quality events and collaborations with artists and cultural institutions around the world.

 Elektron - is a Swedish developer and manufacturer of musical instruments founded in 1998, as well as having its headquarters, R&D and production in Gothenburg, Sweden. 

Goethe-Institut Nairobi- The Goethe-Institut is the cultural institute of the Federal Republic of Germany with a global presence.

Image-Line - Makers of the legendary FL Studio, one of the most iconic peices of music software of all time.

Pro Helvetia - The Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia supports and promotes Swiss culture in Switzerland and throughout the world

Resident Advisor - The world’s leading ticketing and editorial platform for underground electronic music are partnering with Kilele.



It’s here! Our first ever Kilele program is ready for your perusal. You’ll find all the panels, talks, workshops, sundowners and showcases we have confirmed so far, but expect a few other surprises to pop up also.

Happening across various venues within The Mall, home of Santuri East Africa, The Mist and various other cultural hubs, we think there’s something for everyone in this week long extravaganza. You can find more details on each event by following the links below:

Check out the program here:




Kilele is a new symposium for East Africa, providing a cutting-edge forum for technology and innovation as it relates to music culture. Spanning a 7-day schedule of workshops, concerts, live performances, networking and presentations, Kilele will bring together the region’s most forward thinking creatives and collectives with global music tech companies, platforms and thought leaders.

Running from February 12th to 18th 2024, this event is the culmination of over a decade of accelerated creative endeavour in the electronic music space of East Africa, and dials in on the role of technology in music innovation, education, and creativity. Kilele will connect artists, DJs, curators, collectives, and venues with key players in the global music space to celebrate the journey so far, and define the path forward.

Stay up to date with Kilele:

︎ @kilelesummit
︎ @KileleSummit



11.30 - 13.00

Signal Flow -  East Africa and global networks

This opening panel will frame the week in terms of developing networks from East Africa with global platforms, festivals and institutions. Attendees can expect to hear from festival directors, media platforms, institutional donors and bookers, as we set the scene for one of Kilele’s key goals - fostering meaningful collaborations and connections. 

Moderated by Gregg Tendwa, speakers will include:

Muthoni the Drummer Queen (Goodtimes Africa) 
Kwame Safo (British Council)
Mimie Maggale (Sonic Territories Festival Austria)
Geraldine Hepp (Piranha Arts Berlin) 

14.00 - 15.00

Tickets, please.

What are the emerging or existing challenges of e-ticketing platforms? This panel will draw together representatives of Mookh and HustleSasa in Kenya, and the global dance music ticketing platform Resident Advisor, to provide insights into the sector. We’ll look at the role technology is playing, including Web3.0, as well as discussing how editorial and brand partnerships play a part. 

Andy Lemay (Resident Advisor) 
George Gachui (Mookh) 
Dennis Mungai (Hustle Sasa) 

15.00 - 15.30

Mbwana Radio Service

Nassoro Mwinyi and Carrol Oumum present an overview of the Amplifying Coast Music Heritage project, which involves a documentary on the Mbwana Radio Service and associated artists, as well as the showcasing of Khonjo Kolio, a ‘zaire’ band from Malindi.

15.00 - 15.30

NEWF - Impact storytelling : Composing music for wildlife films

Following the success of the Compose yourself labs, NEWF is extending insight into the world of wildlife-film composition, an area in which African musicians are often left out of the equation.Led by film-director Sam Thuku and award-winning composer Labdi Ommes, this workshop will create an entry-point for upcoming Kenyan musicians/composers into the vast scene of wildlife films.

16.00 - 17.30

The Ethics of Collaboration - Panel 

European interactions with African music have been fraught with exploitation, exoticism, and appropriation since the first recording equipment was developed. As musical technologies such as sampling emerged along with the democratisation of music making, the opportunities for exploitation also increased exponentially. As new technologies such as AI are changing the landscape once again, ethical collaboration, preservation and cultural exchange is more important than ever before.

Mod.Wairimũ Nduba 


Labdi Ommes (Uganisha)
Bernt Isak (Uganisha) 
Dr. Kahithe Kiiru (Samplebar / Bomas of Kenya)


11.00 - 11.30

Artificial Intelligence & Music - an overview w/ Philippe Pasquier

11.30 - 12.00

Preparing the next-gen  of music industry leaders  w/ Emilien Moyon (Berklee Valancia)

AI, Virtual Realities, New Creative Frontiers; the music industry is facing a unique combination of challenges and opportunities from a content-creator perspective as well as from a business perspective. Based on over 15 years of experience in some of the best academic institutions, Emilien will present some of Berklee’s educational principles that they implement to develop the skills and mindset that successful leaders need to navigate a rapidly-changing environment and competitive landscape.

12.00 - 13.00

Afrorack and Feldermelder present Rolleqx

The artists met due to Feldermelder running a residency program ar smem in Switzerland. Brian (Afrorack) applied through Pro Helvetia, and spent a considerable time in Switzerland in 2022. After this residency, Brian initiated a collaboration that was then funded by Pro Helvetia too.  Now they are on the brink of sharing it. The pair recorded close to 11 hours of music in a Studio in Fribourg Switzerland in the beginning of 2023. “It was basically us two in a room making music and discussing the world. From this point we selected the parts that seemed worthy to work on a little more and slowly developed enough music to make a release. A lot of back and forth later and here we are with the first tracks of Roll'eqx. The pair will be sharing the process and results of this residency in East Afrca for the first time.  

14.00 - 14.45

Astrid Bin - It’s never just a slider

Thanks to technology that is getting ever cheaper, plentiful and more available, making instruments and musical interfaces is more accessible than ever before. This is an exciting opportunity for artists and musicians to build musical instruments and interfaces that are unique to their specific goals, but current electronic music culture has a strong history of using specific kinds of materials and interface conventions which might suit only a very narrow group of electronic music practitioners. In this talk, I describe the power of incorporating local, easily-available materials to build musical interfaces that are unique to all of us, and not only how the things we use every day can incorporate every musician’s own culture and aesthetics into the tools they use, but how they can offer us new ways to relate to the instruments and interfaces we use to create music that matters.

15.45 - 16.00

Bridging Global and local soundscapes in Kenyan electronic music - Victor Munyasya

The fascinating parallels between globally recognized electronic music genres and rich local African genres and what fusing these two sounds would mean.

This presentation explores the untapped potential of fusing these distinct styles, shedding light on why investing in this fusion could elevate both local and global appeal  as well the reasons as to why this is actually a good idea. He will speak on the transformative power of this fusion, as it not only expands the market for electronic music in Kenya beyond urban exoticism but also creates a more inclusive and sustainable music landscape. This innovative approach fosters cross-cultural interaction, essential for the growth of the local electronic music scene.

16.15 - 17.30


Technology has changed the way we listen to,  discover, and enjoy music. It’s also changed who we hear from, allowing for the creation of new sounds and bringing new people into the fold on every side of the music industry.

In this panel you will hear from Jane Arnison, Shi, Kem Kem and Sharon Onyango-Obbo as they share their experiences carving out space in the industry, share hot takes on what they're seeing and anticipate in the future, and provide practical tips for people looking to break into the industry. The panel will be moderated by Anowa Quarcoo (aka Sonic Griot)

FEMX is supported by the Austrailian High Commission in Nairobi. 


10.00 - 11.00

Halim El-Dabh listening session w/ Nyokabi Kariũki

Nyokabi Kariũki will expand on her recent artivle ‘On learning that one of the first electronic works was by an African, Halim El-Dabh’. 

11.00 - 13.00

Tim Grund: Building live-electronic instruments with Pure Data derived from tape-music compositions

In this workshop, we will present a method of employing MIR (music information retrieval) techniques in order to prepare a live-electronic setup in the open source audio software Pure Data (PD). We will showcase a dedicated live-electronics setup for the re-interpretation of the piece „Leiyla and the poet“ by Halim El-Dabh (1959) and discuss the challenges in extracting the source sounds from a tape music mixdown. Participants will learn about MIR techniques such as beat tracking and source separation, work with the software PD, the provided setup and develop their own interpretations of El-Dabh's music. For participants, please bring your own laptop, headphones and eventually a MIDI-Controller.

14.00 - 14.30 

Kostia Rapoport - Randomization Techniques in Live - Electronics Performance 

Talk: As part of the 'Études for Live-electronics' project, Kostia Rapoport will present his instruments and interfaces when performing with Ableton Live and show the different development stages of his live project when being used with different hardware controllers. Specifically he will talk about his approach on randomization techniques, looping multiple tempos and his explorations of real-time visualization processes.

14.30 - 15.00

Favela Sounds - A Conversation with the Founders 

Favela Sounds is an international slums culture festival that takes place in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, and offers workshops, debates and shows to over 30,000 people annually, occupying the political center of the country. The festival proposes to present the most diverse musical styles of periphery worldwide and its modes of production. What can East African cultural producers learn from this?


Guilherme Tavares
Amanda Bittar


10.00 - 11.00

Distribution and New Technologies for Royalty Collection

A presentation on the profound impact of digital music distribution and how creatives can strategically utilize these platforms to reach and expand their global audiences. The digital landscape has revolutionized the music business, providing artists with unprecedented opportunities for exposure, revenue diversification, and collaboration on a global scale. Additionally, we Äll hear from Mr Ndiritu, a tech entrepreneur, music producer and founder of Huruplay. He has developed innovative software to help artists track royalties effectively, addressing a critical need in the evolving music landscape. The technology, currently in closed testing, utilizes AI to monitor music play across numerous stations in East Africa, providing real-time notifications to artists for prompt royalty claims.

Moderated by Selina Onyando

Beth Achitsa (The Orchard)
Kim Ndiritu - (Huruplay)

14.00 - 15.00


Performance of life often adheres to linear methodologies fixated on reaching specific endpoints. Artistic practices align with these principles, maintaining control over th unfolding of events. Consequently, when faced with an ontological crisis, disruptions occur, events unfold, and tension builds. This upheaval prompts a profound sense of occurrence, leading to a reorientation that highlights the multipositionality of the self, fostering a spirit of unstable curiosity.

Drawing inspiration from the concepts of distortion, fermentation, and chaos, the research delves into various nuances of signal processing through distortion circuits. Distortion introduces a sonic dislocation and unfamiliarity, akin to natural processes like fermentation, where organisms and bacteria transform seemingly mundane foods int complex and esoteric behaviours. Similarly, waveforms exhibit similar behaviour whe subjected to nonlinear techniques, often resulting in a spectrum of new harmonics. These creative artifacts born from the distortion process act as conduits, dislocating
conventional processes. The project involves a familial reversal, embracing inconveniences, disruptions, and chaos as active components of context- to uncover commonalities in contrasting tones and non-hierarchical noises hence presenting new
methodologies for exploring the unheard. Fraught introduces an obfuscation of source materials—sounds, texts, noises, objects altering how we engage with process- context and redefining creation-performance as  reframing of meaning embodying a spirit of curiosity.


Subscribe to Our Newsletter ︎

©2023 Santuri East Africa