An astonishing mix of rap, blues and reggae sounds combined with traditional Kanak rhythms.
A son of Lifou, a small Pacific Ocean island which is part of New Caledonia, Jean-Philip Katreie Ihnomadra, also known as Ykson, began to sing at the age of 12 and play the guitar at 15. He soon performed in public for the first time, at local community festivals in Noumea when he was 16. Since then he has constantly performed at fairs and festivals as well as busking in cities.
Ykson was born in Noumea’s working class district of Montravel, the birthplace of New Caledonia’s new music. Daily life in these districts is one of his main topics of inspiration, and his words speak to all children and social housing inhabitants in the world. With one constant theme: a positive view of the world born from a disconcerting poetic vision.
A roots rock sound backing a distinctive blues voice, Ykson and his music are unexpected and soon take his audience on his journey.
As a writer, composer and performer, his music is fed by many influences: blues, rap, jazz and also funk, reggae and hip hop or traditional songs. One of the pieces composed for his first CD shows this influence, “Aemoon” (Noumea in “verlan”, French backwards slang). However, Ykson refuses all labels and insists on being diverse and open. Marked in his life and music by the reality of Caledonian society, he sees music above all as a means of communication. His music speaks both to ordinary people and those “high up”.
His goal? To revive dialogue in a society where it is cruelly lacking; to break down barriers in order to go forward. And the only solution lies in non-violence. “Revolution is above all in the heart. Real revolution can only come in each other’s hearts. It’s an energy, a strength and it can also be a remedy. We mustn’t give up.”
2008 marked a milestone in his musical career, with a win at the 9 semaines et 1 jour (9 weeks and a day) competition organised by Réseau France Outremer (RFO), the radio and TV network for France’s overseas possessions. His success led him to perform before the 12,000 strong audience at the La Rochelle Francofolies festival, which sang “Prêtemoi tes ailes” (Lend me your wings) along with him.
Ykson’s creative expression does not stop with music: graphic art, drawing, poetry and audiovisuals are also part of his world. In 2009, he won 2 local music’s trophy(revelation and pop/rock artist of the year) and performed in France with a national tour, at AWME. In 2010, he participated in the Dreaming Festival, Reggaetown and the Woodford Folk Festival.
In 2011 Ykson performed throughout New Caledonia, including the Femme Funk Festival and in the Reunion Islands as part of the Indian Ocean Music Market. Ykson also toured Western Australia and was a key act at the French Festival in Brisbane. In 2011/2012 he had made such an impact as prolific artist that he was re-invited back to both Woodford and the Dreaming as a visual artist in residence and musician, firming up interest in the music and art that transcends language and cultural barriers.
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