Project Blackbird marked a more focused musical direction for long-time bandmates Ming Nagel (lyrics, vocals) and multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Jon Read, former trumpet player for The Specials. In 2018, with a new name, a pared-back line-up, and a darker, more electronic vibe, they released their debut album Endurance to word-of mouth acclaim. The BBC’s Tom Robinson, who played their track “Elevation” on his Introducing Mixtape and as a teaser for the inaugural Fresh on the Net festival, called the band “extraordinary”. One fan summed up the genre-fluid sound of Project Blackbird perfectly: “Imagine a party at Ronnie Scott’s where Sade, Björk, Jeff Beck, and David Byrne meet Portishead and then go for a late-night curry to exchange ideas…sublime”.
Later in 2018 and 2019, respectively, line-up changes and shared interests in motorcycles, wildlife ponds, and electric guitars introduced multi-instrumentalist Jamie Varley and guitarist Alan Roberts to the band. Gigging within the UK and Europe before lockdowns, and writing new material together, helped to hone Project Blackbird’s internal partnerships and craft an increasingly confident and immersive sound – one that is evident in abundance on their eclectic new album. Drawing upon intellect and emotion in equal measure, “If This Is the End” finds the band secure in their collective identity but not afraid to push the boundaries of creativity and expression.
They are now working on their third album to be released later in 2023 and will be touring in the USA for the first time.
Mamadou Lamine Diao, aka Tukkiman, is an internationally acclaimed Senegalese singer, songwriter, music producer, arranger, and multi-instrumentalist. Tukkiman is an artist who creates for the sake of love, peace, equality, respect, and justice. His music is a mixture of Afrobeats, Reggae, Hip Hop, and Pop. Tukkiman’s musical style is lush, melodic, powerful, and knows no borders; it is about inclusion, freedom, love, and travel. His music fuses genres creating a universal sound that is inspiring, engaging, and brings a message; he reminds us of our unified inner beauty and humanity. Tukki describes himself as a “citizen of the world.” His musical identity was shaped by experiencing the music revolution of the ’90s and incorporating the influences of hip-hop, reggae, rock, pop, soul, and African rhythms.
Growing up in Africa, he learned music from the internet. First teaching himself to play the guitar, then adding piano, he started writing lyrics and set up his production studio. For some years, Tukki devoted himself to arranging and producing the music of his fellow Senegalese musicians. In 2006, he made a life-changing decision to move to Paris to study sound engineering. His creativity, mixed with curiosity, led him to open a production studio – where he worked with artists of diverse backgrounds in pop, rap, reggae, rock, and soul. Subsequently, he found his voice as a performer and composer, and his name, Tukki, which means voyage/travel in Wolof, Senegal’s native language, or Tukkiman, traveling man or a man who travels.
His new album, On The Afro, which came out January 2023, takes you on a journey through Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, and back to Chicago where he lives now, all while staying true to the philosophy of TUKKI which is traveling the world without borders.