music | 6 March 2018

Now this is the kinda story we really like. Auckland born Joey bania was recently in kenya shooting a documentary, when he got chatting to his producer who is usually a sound recordist. he shared some music with JOey including the track 'desires' by North. Joey loved it so much he offered to shoot a music video for the song on the spot. We're proud to premiere it here. 

video + photographs: joey bania

words: mitch alison


In this song he’s musing on conflicting desires – the desire for material possessions and the desire for some kind of spiritual purity that transcends the material.


Following on from The Voice feature, where we featured a series of Hip Hop docos from around the world, we're proud to be showing off this music video from Nairobi, Kenya shot by Joey Bania.

More so than any of the previous videos, this music video really hammers home the point made by Tricia Rose in her seminal book ‘The Hip Hop Wars’ where she wrote: Hip Hop gives a ground-level view (though not the only view, or a comprehensive view) of what it might mean to live under what are nearly warlike conditions in communities that face a myriad of daunting circumstances. Hip Hop is incredibly accessible. If you have any performing, rhyming or poetic talent – you can tell your life story, your community story, through rapping, background music and accessible means. This makes it globally significant.

We asked the film maker a few questions:

 Where are you from in NZ?

 I was born in Auckland but moved around a lot as a kid. I spent time in Sydney, Dunedin and Queenstown.

 What were you doing in Nairobi?

 I was in Kenya on a TV documentary shoot about long distance runners in the Kenyan highlands. I had a chat to the producer and managed to negotiate a bit of “holiday” time after we wrapped. I booked in a trip to Masai Mara National Park and a few days to explore Nairobi.

North Feature Stills (4 of 9).jpg

How did you meet the artist?

 First I met the producer, Willis Abuto, while on the TV shoot. He was working as our local fixer, though he’s usually a sound recordist. His brother is a producer and runs a studio (816) in Nairobi. We got talking and he offered to send me some music through. ‘Desires’ was the first thing he played me and I loved it from the outset. I offered to help shoot a music video and three days later I was in Nairobi meeting the artist and scouting nightclub locations.

 In your experience how does Kenyan Hip Hop compare to others countries?

 I think as with most hip hop from outside the US Kenyan artists incorporate aspects of their local culture to colour the music in their own way. Often through instrumentation and colloquialisms. There are various words and phrases in ‘Desires’ that won’t make much sense to foreigners. It’s similar to in other countries in that it offers artists a platform to share their stories that they otherwise may not have had.

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When did you first pick up a video camera?

 I probably manhandled some family friend’s camcorder when I was in my early teens.

 What’s the earliest thing you remember shooting?

 When I was fifteen I went on a student exchange to Holland and took a 3 megapixel digital camera with me. It had a very primitive video recording function with which I made a series of “comedic” documentary segments about the town I was living in. Thankfully no trace of these videos exists.

 What was your first paying gig behind a camera?

 While I was at University I had a paid internship at the Dunedin hospital pediatric ward. I spent the summer filming kids – some seriously ill, some in for minor treatment. It was a pretty intense job but involved a lot of hours behind the lens so it was a great way to hone my shooting skills.

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 Any advice for young Kiwis who want to get into film?

 Start shooting as soon as possible. Don’t spend years talking about going to film school without actually picking up a camera. Film school can be useful (definitely not essential) but you’ll be at a huge advantage if you’ve already got some experience, even if it’s just filming your friends with a smartphone.

It also helps to know what you want to do. There are so many directions you can go in so many different production genres. If you know you want to work in the costume department on feature film productions then you can take steps to get there, which would probably involve moving to LA, or Wellington at the least. If you want to work as a documentary shooter/director, your path will be very different. The earlier you know what you want, the better.

 What do you think of the Kiwi Hip Hop scene

 I’ve been overseas for a few years now so my knowledge of contemporary Kiwi hip hop is pretty limited. What I hear I like, though. As with hip hop in most places I think it’s a pretty important in giving a voice to marginalized members of society.

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 How long have you been into Hip Hop - what’s the first Hip Hop track you remember?

My introduction to hip hop came when I was about eleven or twelve, courtesy of my older brother, who had a couple of Technics 1200s and a healthy stack of vinyl. I feel pretty lucky to have been weaned on a diet of classic early 90’s stuff – A Tribe Called Quest, Public Enemy, Digable Planets etc. I remember Tribe’s ‘Can You Kick It’ frequently rumbling through the walls.

 Who’s your favourite Hip Hop Artist and why?

 I still have a big soft spot for Digable Planets. They’re jazzy and funky and those dusty drum samples are so cosy.

 Can you tell us more about 'North'. In particular can you elaborate on:  His music draws on American influences and adds a distinct Kenyan twist.

 Jack (North) is the youngest of six kids. He and his siblings were raised single-handedly by their mother in what he describes as a lower middle class Kenyan family. He’s been writing music since his teens but only after finishing high school did he meet the producer he’s working with now. Together they’ve tried to craft a sound that pays homage to and draws on his American hip hop influences but that also pays tribute to his Kenyan heritage. 

Looking at your work it feels like Hip Hop is not only a means of expression, but it can also be used as a lens to view and interpret the world around you. Culturally, politically, sexually, whatever.

Can you elaborate on this.

 I guess artists often use music to make sense of the world around them and to assert their place in it. Before the ‘North’ moniker existed, Jack spent years writing music about his experiences growing up in Kenya, which colour his music now. He’s a bit older and his subject matter has expanded to the social and political, but some themes are constant. In this song he’s musing on conflicting desires – the desire for material possessions and the desire for some kind of spiritual purity that transcends the material.

North Soundcloud



Joey Bania: Website



Joey Bania: @joeybania



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