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Bengatronics

Flash back to December 2014 in a sunny afternoon. A remote town called Chai Moto (hot tea) in Katheka Kai (the mighty bush), Machakos County (Kenya).

Mwalimu Gregg Tendwa meets a young man wandering about the village. Mwalimu stops his car and greets the young man who introduces himself as John Kithikii, a benga musician based at Mlolongo, a transit town along the Mombasa-Nairobi highway.

Kithikii mentions that he is from selling copies of an album that he recently released. He adds that he is seriously looking for a promoter to take his music beyond the village. They decide to meet the following day. Kithikii promises to avail the album to him. The next day he receives the album.

At the time, Gregg was busy investigating electronic music formats, while John Kithikii was busy selling his album and playing music at local clubs in Mlolongo. After a night of listening to the album, an idea came to mind – how about a collaboration?

Gregg invited this new friend to join him for a sports and music festival in the rural town of Kikima, where he was scheduled to Dj on the boxing day of December 2014. He brought Kithikii an electric guitar and a small amplifier and asked him to try out something different; like making music with a DJ.

Kithikii was worried that he had been accustomed to playing in a 6-piece band and had never imagined playing with a Dj before. Gregg maintained that it was possible to do something crazy, something fresh and dynamic, something that changed the current way of making and presenting music.

A series of trials led to a groove, and suddenly they went with the flow, and for the first time, benga met electronic elements in a live context, and bengatronics was born.