Notes Without Labels

Notes Without Labels

French band Supergombo, on their maiden visit to India, talks about finding inspiration around the world and their music being human

French music band, French music band at Goa Jazz, drummer wendlavim, bassist Etienne Kermarc, Indian Express 
The band takes the harmony of jazz and reshapes it to make it their own (Paul Bourdrel)

Written by Khanak Sachdeva

Supergombo refuse to put their music in a box, “We call it Afro-funk, so it’s two styles, more like human afro-funk style. We don’t share music but we share humanity”, says Wendlavim Zabsonre, the drummer of the French band, which draws its eclectic name from Africa.

“In Africa, when you play music for people to dance, the musician speaks something about the gombo, which is when you play to earn your life. So musicians in Africa speak about gombo and they say ‘I go to my gombo’, to say they are going to play music. And gombo is also there for food. Supergombo is just an expression because we make African influenced music,” says Etienne Kermarc, the bassist.

The French band, which came together in 2013, was founded by Kermarc. Their last album Explorations came out two years ago. It’s these songs which they will play for their India tour. They will perform at Goa’s Jazz India Circuit International Festival on December 1.


Talking about their process of composing a song, which according to them is very democratic, Kermarc says, “Usually one person comes up with an idea for a song, then we work together and finish it. I cannot imagine people playing something they don’t want. So, if I come with an idea which doesn’t fit well when we play, we change it. We discuss, make amends and build on the idea from one person.”

The band feels that before being categorised into a genre, jazz is just music. “And music before being music is a person, a human, and one should play as they feel. Having said that, jazz is not the same as it was 40 years ago. The concept, the theory of jazz, the harmony of jazz travels around the world and anybody can take it and reshape it and that’s what we do with Supergombo,” says Zabsonre. Their inspiration comes from the countries they visit and through it they express how they feel.

The band from Lyon is eager to experience India’s culture. “We’re really excited to be in such a country, where every city is so different, even the language and people,” says Zabsonre. They are currently working on new number, and they hope they are inspired by their India tour. “We hope coming to India can inspire us. We already have some stuff and we’ll try to put some India in it,” adds Zabsonre. On experimenting with EDM they say, “At this time a DJ in France is doing a remix of our album. We are also going to collaborate with another DJ. And even in our last album there’s a lot of electronic music with the keyboard, the guitar and the bass.”

What they are looking forward to see how the Indian audience will react to their music, they say, “For us, we make music and we think music is the thing which everybody can share easily. Our music is African, American and French influenced, and to be here in India, is a chance to know a new culture.”