Pierre Kwenders fluidly dismantles the boundaries of genre, country and culture with his inventive indie-Afro electro sound by merging Western and African styles into warm vibes and impassioned vocals.
Born in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, as José Louis Modabi, Pierre Kwenders (his grandfather's name, chosen to maintain his legacy) sings and raps in Lingala, French, English, Tshiluba and Kikongo, mining the lyrical and aesthetic distinctions of these languages for peak emotional resonance.
In the fall of 2020, the Montreal-based musician unveils Classe Tendresse, a collaborative EP created with French producer Clément Bazin. This mini-album carries the listener into a state of gentle and joyous nostalgia. Over percussive rhythms, Pierre explores homesickness, tormented farewells and a grandiose love for his homeland and his brothers and sisters, deploying this Sentiment Moko on the EP’s first single, Sentiment.
Classe Tendresse follows the release of MAKANDA at The End of Space, the Beginning of Time, Pierre’s sophomore album, released in 2017. Emotionally inspired by self-acceptance, self-discovery and the strength of the women in his family, the album brought him to Seattle to record and work with producer Fly Guy Dai (aka Tendai Maraire of Shabazz Palaces). Together they created tracks that move from thumping house, rumba trap and West Coast hip-hop to pan-African influenced instrumentals, jazz horns, rock guitars and indie-Afro melodies. Not surprisingly, Kwenders shifted from the housey thump of Le Dernier Empereur Bantou, his previous album, to something notably more rap-centric. Still, his music maintains his unique sound (check out the guitars in Woods of Solitude and Sexus Plexus Nexus). In the summer of 2019, Pierre put out a video of his silky smooth performance presented by COLORS, which garnered over 700,000 views on YouTube.
Alongside his accomplishments as a solo artist, Pierre Kwenders is a leading creative force in the Montreal music scene. He's supported Arcade Fire at their annual fundraiser for the charity Kanpe, and recently teamed up with Dear Denizen's Ngabonziza Kiroko as future soul duo ABAKOS. He also hosts Méké Méké, a weekly residency at the Ti-Agrikol resto-bar, spotlighting African and Caribbean-flavoured house and global dance sounds.
Strikingly stylish and engaging on stage, the globe-trotting Kwenders is also a co-founder of Moonshine (originally a full moon after-hours party), now an artist collective, label and event crew focused on increasing the diversity of Montreal's creative output.