music of the month: The Intergalactic Republic of Kongo
The Intergalactic Republic of Kongo are March’s Music of the Month! We speak to frontman Mike Title about his inspirations and the influences behind the project.
at your Windmill gig last month, your performance was reminiscent of a preacher. What is your relationship to your audience?
It’s pure physical energy but then in this violent back and forth cycle there is also great tenderness. At one point I lost my way and I was down, head swimming and my energy almost depleted when suddenly a hand from the crowd reached out and touched mine. In that one touch I sprang back to my feet and I was back. It’s give and take on both sides.
How important are visuals to your performance/persona on stage?
Well we dress in white. One time, I had to get up on stage to play after 12 Moroccan boys singing and banging percussion in immaculate white robes and white headdress in a village in the middle of nowhere. It looked so powerful to me - it stuck.
What have been some of your biggest musical influences?
There are too many to draw upon and list here but 80% African Americans. I remember once seeing a gypsy in Andalusia clapping and singing in the street and I swear everyone stopped and started crying. That was magic. Honest performance is why I do it.
What was the inspiration behind your name?
I was going to make a prog rock concept album about The Democratic Republic of Kongo in outer space but it fell through. I couldn’t waste that name though.
How has your identity influenced your music?
What is identity? Is it not like water? Or is it like mountain? Or both?? I look in the mirror sometimes and ask - who is that? There are certain states we can reach where you should not stare in the mirror. Walking down the street breathing is the same as creating a body of work in the end. Always best to walk with some purpose.
Can you describe your process behind making songs?
I sometimes see them visually like a movie with a character and a big ending and then I’ll go for rhythm first. Or I will have a lyric and will start singing into a mic as Jan (co-writer on keys) starts making noises on his synth. It’s a good feeling when you go and do something in the sun and then you run into a room and everything is plugged in and you start singing. You want to write in the middle of an experience. You should never be cold.
What have been some of your favourite memories/gigs?
Playing gigs in places where there was no electricity and only petrol generators to people who had never seen anything like it. Playing in North Africa is hard to beat.
Do you think music can/should convey political messages? And if so, what is yours?
Constantly challenge authority wherever it tests you. If you feel it push against you even slightly. Stand up for what you believe is right. Inherently you know. Focus on the mindset of your family and close community around you.
What are you planning for the future?
I live in the moment. It’s the only show in town. The only plans I make to be honest are to travel.
What gives you hope?
It’s funny you should ask that. The sun is coming through the window and it’s warm. What gives you more hope than the joy of Spring?
Catch The Intergalactic Republic of Kongo at The Great Escape festival in May!