Today Zamrock legends WITCH (We Intend To Cause Havoc) share an Amazon Music Original to celebrate Chaka Khan’s upcoming induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – their Zamrock-infused cover of Chaka Khan’s 1983 hit “Ain’t Nobody,” recorded at the legendary Hyde Street Studios in San Francisco.
Featuring Theresa Ng’ambi and Hanna Tembo – both of whom feature on the band’s latest album ‘Zango‘ – “Ain’t Nobody” finds WITCH sharper than ever, infusing their blend of traditional African rhythms, heavy psych-rock, blues, funk, and garage with subtle (yet distinctively ’80s-inspired) synths. Listen here exclusively via Amazon Music.
WITCH’s Patrick Mwondela on the making of “Ain’t Nobody”:
“It was an honour to be asked to record a cover of a Chaka Khan song.
I personally was inspired by Chaka Khan’s music in the ‘80s. This project took me back to WITCH’s Disco days when we produced the albums ‘Moving On’ and ‘Kuomboka’. Of all of Chaka Khan’s songs, we chose ‘Ain’t Nobody’ as it’s such an iconic dance floor filler!
I worked with Jacco Gardner on production and experimented with lots of sounds and parts. It’s such a well crafted song so we were conscious not to lose its core vibrant vibe, but we also wanted to give it a ZamRock touch, with some vernacular included. The result was a raw, quirky feel just like the ‘70s ZamRock but sprinkled with the ‘80s strings and subtle brass, with a running bass line.
For me it was a labour of love and great fun! We hope Chaka likes it.”
Known as the “Zambian Beatles” during their ‘70s and ‘80s heyday, ‘Zango’ is WITCH’s first album in nearly 40 years. It was released in June as the first release on new Partisan Records imprint Desert Daze Sound. Read more in this extensive profile in the New York Times here.
Following sold out shows across the globe behind ‘Zango‘, WITCH will headline more dates in the UK this fall. Dates below and here.
WITCH TOUR DATES
28 NOV 2023 / UK / London / Earth
01 DEC 2023 / UK / Liverpool / District
03 DEC 2023 / UK / Manchester / Band On The Wall
04 DEC 2023 / UK / Bristol / Lost Horizons
WITCH – SHARE AMAZON MUSIC ORIGINAL COVER OF
CHAKA KHAN’S: “AIN’T NOBODY”
FIRST ALBUM IN 40 YEARS: ‘ZANGO‘
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More about WITCH:
The album title ‘Zango’ comes from the communal spaces in Zambian villages where people would gather round to share ideas — and later a word that became a synonym with love and unity — the band set up their own “zango” in Lusaka’s legendary DB Studios. The most incredible thing about WITCH’s story may well be that they are here to tell it. The WITCH story begins in the ‘60s. As idolisers of British and American rock stars like The Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix, Emmanuel ‘Jagari’ Chanda and his friends clung to copies of Melody Maker as the sounds of British radio permeated cities like Lusaka. By the mid’-70s, they were at the center of an explosive scene performing their own brand of riotous rock-and-roll music infused with percussive African rhythms and a world-is-ours mentality. They called it ‘Zamrock’, and WITCH became infamous for their seven-hour live shows and incendiary on-stage antics.
The press dubbed them “Zambia’s Beatles” as they became renowned by fans all across Africa. But just a few years after their heyday, the band fizzled out. Economic crises, social restrictions, and the AIDS epidemic would spell the end of their first incarnation after lead singer Jagari’s departure in 1977. The band went through a disco-inspired metamorphosis in the ‘80s under the leadership of keyboard savant Patrick Mwondela — but by the mid-decade, that too was in decline. And Zamrock — still an obscurity in the West — was already but a figment of the past.
The revival came in 2011, when Now-Again Records reissued a career-spanning collection of WITCH’s music. It would be the first time their work was widely available outside of the band’s native Zambia — though, sadly, by this point, most of the original line-up had died. Crate-diggers and connoisseurs went wild, inspiring filmmaker and fan Gio Arlotta (today the band’s manager) to journey to the country to find the original band’s last surviving member. Once Zambia’s biggest rock star, Jagari was now a gemstone miner in his late ‘60s.
Gio’s subsequent film, titled ‘WITCH: We Intend To Cause Havoc’, was released in 2019 — it documents the reincarnation of the band with a new line-up ahead of their first-ever live shows in Europe and America. With great acclaim received from international festivals and cinema audiences, and with the new WITCH fulfilling Jagari’s long-harboured dream of performing to fans all over the world, this Zamrock legend finally confirmed its place in rock’s history books.
Empowered and inspired by the rapture at shows in London, Los Angeles and Lusaka — and festivals like SXSW, Desert Daze and Green Man — WITCH veterans Jagari and Patrick, both now in their musical prime in their ‘70s, returned to the studio in 2021 with an international consortium of players from the new live band. They include Dutch multi-instrumentalist and solo artist Jacco Gardner, drummer and fellow Dutchman Nico Mauskoviç (Mauskoviç Dance Band), Bulgarian guitarist Stefan Lilov (L’Eclair), and German guitarist JJ Whitefield (Poets of Rhythm).
Amazingly, the recording was to take place over two weeks at DB Studios — the same studio where the original band’s sensational 1975 album Lazy Bones had been made some 46 years prior. “It was almost a kind of unintentional Zamrock museum, with this gigantic archive of vinyl records of all the Zamrock bands,” says Jacco – who also helped produce the new album.
“We were amazed to find all of the original equipment there that was actually used in the ‘70s. One of the local engineers, Michael Linyama, was basically just soldering in the back room the whole time we were there to get all the phaser and fuzz pedals they used in the ‘70s working again. Jasper Geluk, the sound engineer for my solo tours, some WITCH shows, and groups like Altin Gun, Allah-Lahs and L’Eclair, made all the tape machines work – and this complicated analogue process using the original equipment ended up being a big part of the sound.”