Tokunbo was born in Germany as the daughter of a German mother and a Nigerian father, grew up in Nigeria and returned to Germany at the age of 10. She tells us about this period: "Since Iíve always visited my relatives in Germany during holidays, Germany was quite naturally my second home. However, when I returned at the age of 10, I was confronted with a lot of racism and that was completely shocking for me. I couldnít handle it for years. Today I know that this discrimination belongs to my life and I can counter attacks much better and more quick-witted. Incidentally, one of our new songs on "about..." also deals with these problems. As a musician one has the possibility to get hold of a group of people and to make a statement with ones music, which was important to us in this context.Ē
Mortenís family roots are branched out widely too: "My mother is a Dane and my father is from Berlin. The only language we used to speak at home was Danish. Her Danish roots have always been very important to my mother so that I learned German only as a second language while playing with my childhood friends. I was confronted with racism in quite a different way than Tokunbo. My fatherís childhood and days of youth, his participation in WW II and my motherís experiences as a child from the Danish point of view have been a firm component of my childhood. At that time I have assimilated my fatherís deep feelings of guilt and in the course of the years and during conversations with him it was a hard struggle for me to find my quite own position on this subject. I myself have never had to suffer from racial discrimination."
Their musical beginnings were quite similar although they lived many thousand kilometers apart. Tokunbo says: "In my childhood in Nigeria music was a natural component of everyday life and played a big part on every festivity. My father played the guitar in a duet with a singer. Her voice engendered a strong longing in me. I wanted to sing ever since. My grandfather on mother's side was a music teacher and always played the piano when I came for a visit. My uncle is a sound engineer and he himself has built an organ as a young person and it also was him who encouraged me to study music. I took my school-leaving exam at a secondary school emphasizing, above all, fine arts. My teachers have recognized my talent early and have promoted me very much. However, decisive for my future life was my year in the USA as an exchange student during my school days. It was the typical American "make-your-dream-come-true" attitude of the people around me that induced me to look for a band, to make my first public appearances and to opt for this carrer.
In my childhood I very often listened to Motown soul music that very much determined my music taste. In my youth I started playing the guitar and accompanied myself, later I discovered jazz. During studies Billie Holiday was my shining example, just like him I wanted to provide such an intense feeling with my music."
Music played an important role in Mortenís childhood as well: "Classical music influenced me first of all. My sister Ė my senior by eight years - studied piano and my brother- my senior by five years - is a cellist in the Hamburg opera. A classic piano and cello repertoire was thus implanted in my mind while playing Memory and with Lego-bricks (my sister lived in the room next door). That wasnít easy sometimes. I started to play piano when I was 6, although I would rather have played the trumpet at that time. At the age of 11 I eventually changed to the clarinet. I discovered the saxophone when my big brother once came home with a Crusaders record and Wilton Felder excited my enthusiasm for soul, jazz and blues when I was 13. Later I started to play drums as well which is of benefit to me at present when playing the mouthdrums.
After having participated in many different projects tok tok tokís two bandleaders, the singer Tokunbo Akinro and the saxophonist Morten Klein, founded the band in 1998 as a pure trio with Frank Fiedler on the contrabass. Their musical congeniality found expression in the common search for melodic beauty combined with groove and soul. While "this canít be love" Ė their first CD in 1998 Ė was still influenced by jazz standards, they already treaded new paths on their second CD "50 ways to leave your lover" in 1999 and on the successor "love again" in 2000 which was just as successful and which led them past some of the probably best and most long-lived songs of the rock- and pop history. The music turned more groovy with a melancholic-dreamy touch at the same time. With "ruby soul" in 2002 they broke new ground again because this time all songs were from their own pen. The music is written by Morten Klein and all texts are by Tokunbo Akinro. Listening to these songs one can clearly hear the inherent love for the soul music of the sixties. The bandís fifth album "it took so long" captured the Top Ten of the jazz charts immediately. The sound was reinforced by bass and the Fender Rhodes which proved to be the right move because on the new album "about" there are some scorching sound experiments with mercurial soprano sax Ė Fender Rhodes blends apart from tok tok tokís characteristic contrabass sound.
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