I had a conversation with a group of friends this past weekend about how fans can put too much pressure on artists to produce. At a moderate level, fans asking about when an artist will release their next project is encouraging because it means that people out there enjoy and are inspired by their work. However, the creative process is not definite and an artist goes through a lot of emotion when they are creating. So for fans to demand a work of art without considering that the artist is not in a position to do so is a bit unfortunate.
When Just a Band announced their hiatus two months ago, I could not believe what I was reading. We have not seen anything like this band in Kenya. We have had a great relationship with Just a Band, them as artists and us as fans. So how could they just decide to go on a break? How could they do that to us?
That was the problem my friends and I were trying to discuss; the feeling that artists owe us new work every once in a while and that they should not go on break if we do not approve. As consumers of art, sometimes we fail to understand the position of the supplier. They decide when to produce, when not produce, to work in groups or do solo projects and we can do nothing about it because an artist’s work is about them not their fans.
Okay, so now, we have accepted that Just a Band will not be as we have known them to be for a while. But we still feel lost because we miss them and we do not know how life will continue without them. We need to encourage ourselves and decide that before we find Just-A-Bandage that will put our favourite group together we will preparing ourselves for their next album. When they finally come together, we will be ready for what they will have for us.
So here’s a survivor’s toolkit to make sure we make it through this hiatus.
1. Support their solo projects
While we loved their collective work, I bet we will also become hooked to their individual creations. This is what their official website says about each member’s projects;
Blinky Bill has a tonne of cool musical projects on the go, most momentous of which is his first solo album that’s coming out later this year tentatively titled “Everyone’s Just Winging It & Other Fly Tales”. He is also working on some art experiments for the Dakar Bienalle this year as well as a new monthly show on RBMA Radio.
Daniel, under his alias of Nairobidhobi, will be involved in different media. His primary project will be creating a graphic novel that he’s been talking about for years, and experimenting with the comics collective called Comi(K)ment Issues.
Mbithi is already putting the finishing touches on his first feature length film KatiKati, which will be out later this year. He will keep exploring soundscapes as his alter ego, Ricky Suede.”
2. Buy their book.
Just A Book was released at the final stage of their third exhibition. It is a collection of short stories, comics and writings that they wanted to share with their fans. Now you have a memory of the band. Every time you miss them you can pull it from your shelf or bag and read a page and console yourself that you still have a part of them.
3. Buy their music
If you had not bought your Just a Band albums this may be your time to catch up with what they have released over the years. Take your time to listen to each song and reminisce when you first heard of these guys. You can send them to your loved ones as gifts so that they too can understand what you are going through.
4. Buy a rainbow wig and dance
I loved how Just a Band would bring out characters in their music videos. It was a brilliant storytelling strategy. There was a puppet called Boflo and the people’s favourite, Makmende. Buying a rainbow wig for me is my way of saying that I’m getting into character and dancing to my favourite Just A Band song which happens to be Huff+Puff. Whichever character you want to invent to get you into that JAB vibe, get on with it and feel the music.
5. Move on
This might sound harsh but these guys are moving on to greater heights. As they have promised, and we shall definitely hold them accountable, they will come back to give us great music. So in the meantime, we can continue with our lives, listen to other Kenyan artists and try not to mop around.
It’s two months since Just A Band went live with their announcement. I have just shared what has been working for me. What other tips might you have?