Getting to Know: Chloe Knows on her Kokrobite Mix

Listen to the Kokrobite Mix

When the early coronavirus pandemic had us locked down in the UK with no definitive end in sight, clubs and events closed and we were left to mourn the loss of enjoyment and outside vibes. However, the flexibility of working from home allowed some very lucky people to escape to Ghana to indulge in music and sunshine. One such person was Chloe Sintim known by her DJ name ChloeKnows. Relatively new to the craft, but well-respected within it, Chloe dropped a new mix earlier this month as an ode to Kokrobite, Ghana featuring tracks ranging from afrobeats to dancehall to Amapiano.

Catching up with Chloe, I questioned the Ghanian, North-London-based selector on the idea and process behind recording this mix, her track selection, and her journey in music thus far. 

M- About the mix, could you give me the idea behind it? I am interested to know how the name, Kokrobite, relates to the type of vibe presented?

(After correcting my pronunciation of Kokrobite: bee-tay not bite) So Kokrobite is a place in Ghana, let me just give you some background: I basically went to Ghana as most people do in December and we decided to stay when the UK went into lockdown. Essentially, I was there for six months and I was so lucky to be able to work from home in Ghana. Something just told me to bring my work laptop, and it was the best thing I ever did.  In that time I got to fall in love with different places in Ghana, fall in love with that work-life balance and the idea that enjoyment is paramount and everything else is catering towards that vibe. There’s an area called Kokrobite, now I’ve been going to Ghana every year, maybe twice a year for as long as I can remember – even before it just was popping in December but for some reason, I had never been there and it was like this hidden gem that always had a kiki, a barbeque and music playing. This mix is an ode to Kokrobite and what it was for my time there as well as just the Ghana club scene in general.

M – Tell me more about the events, you mentioned organizing intimate ones before getting into DJing?

I’ve been doing events for a long time. It was really about showcasing the new upcoming artists. I have always been known to be “Chloe Knows”, always known to be listening to people before everyone else, and often it ends up being “Chloe put me on”. I did one event with DarkoVibes maybe three, four years ago – as I said super early in his career. I did events in LA, worked with the Chicago rapper, Noname: I was the first person to bring her to London and do her first shows in the UK. I have always just done events with new upcoming artists and it’s good to see them blow up. Because I recognize that I’ve been able to make relationships.

M – I feel it’s similar to when people say you have an eye for something, you have the musical ear to spot these artists, is there a particular way or do you just know?

I just know, you know, it’s in the name! I think it is just like a feeling, a connection, something that makes me wanna know more, see more about the artist and I just know that other people will want to do the same. I listen to so much new music and new artists. I’m a Dora the Explorer so I’m going to listen to everything.

M – What do you listen to on the everyday?

It literally just depends. I live on shuffle, so I don’t really mind where it’s going. If I had to pick my favorite genres to listen to for the rest of my life, it would be one: gospel. I need that spirituality, that food for the soul, the musicality of it all. I would say afrobeats, let me not pretend, and R&B. Basically anything that is melodic and has good lyrics.

M- Tell me more about how you got into DJing

Let’s say I’ve been DJing for a year and a half, two years now. Obviously, through doing events, I have met a lot of DJs, loads of female DJs who have been doing it from when we were kids. What made me start actually picking it up and saying I’m gonna DJ is a friend of mine who worked at Pioneer. So they gave her free lessons and she asked me to join her and I said why not. I did it for like 3 days but I was so bad at it. The teacher was quite rude and discouraging but that actually spurred me on. If you say I can’t or you think I can’t: I can. I started doing lives and posting videos of myself Djing and people started saying you know you’re actually good so I felt more encouraged to own the title and add to my multi-hyphenated craft.

M – Specifically about the mix, what was the process behind recording it?

How I went about recording Kokrobite is actually an interesting one. I had all these tracks and I kept saying, I’m going to do the mix, I’m going to do the mix, as soon as I land, however; life gets in the way. Then last week I was ill and I’ve been housebound with nothing to do and I was like ‘I can sit here and not be productive’, and it gave me that opportunity to just do the mix and build all the content around it. I didn’t do it fifty thousand times because usually I’m a perfectionist and it takes 10 years for any mix to come out. This mix only took 2 trials, I was just feeling it and that feeling can’t be contrived.

M- Do you have any standout tracks in the mix, that may be reminded you of your time in Ghana or just were your favorite tracks?

Some of the standout tracks will be a lot of the amapiano as it was all the rave in Ghana but when I came back to the UK no one was listening to it because we don’t have the club infrastructure right now. It actually made me realize how crucial the club scene is for afrobeats. In addition to the whole ampiano section, I had a lot of friends give me tracks like Tripcy made an amapiano song called Freeway. I didn’t really listen to it until I was looking for songs for the mix. With the songs I’ve slipped in that aren’t bait, I wanted to educate. Then with the sequence of mixes, mixing from like Popcaan to Whine by Wizkid, how they don’t really go but mix well.

M – Then on Nigerians on amapiano, what is your opinion on the discourse surrounding it?

I don’t see anything wrong with UK DJs calling themselves ampaino DJs if they have been championing the genre and people are booking them specifically for playing that. But when you’re trying to say ‘I’m the first to do it, introduce it, then it is a different story. I have no problem with Nigerians doing it and giving us watered-down pop versions, you know why? – it’s still banging in the club! A lot more people can understand the lyrics and Nigerian are packaging it in a way we like, Ghanians too such as P Montana are starting to produce their own.

M – Finally, do you have any DJ influences?

I have so so many female DJs I am influenced by. Randomly, they are not in the afrobeats scene at all but I see them as true DJs, curators, not afraid to play things that are not the latest, and can control the crowd’s energy. So Shy One, she is a broken beat, electronics producer, and has been doing this for 15 years – so long. She’s an amazing DJ, I love her ear. She’s done things like Boiler Room and currently the Warehouse project with Virgil Abloh. Another one of my faves is Chloëdees, she’s a fun DJ who throws it back at fourth: one minute you’re listening to Diana Ross, next it’s mixed into the Migos. Then Ikonika, a real G in this, an amazing producer as well, she is playing amapiano in a totally different space in the UK. When I came back from Ghana, her gig was one of the first that I was invited to and the space she plays in is quite an alternative, underground crowd. Her background is really that she educates and I love her for that.

M – Any final thoughts on the mix?

I would just say the mix got me through an interesting time, it brought me to a good place. I really hope it gets them in a good mood no matter what time of day it is. Just hope it makes people feel good, and book me!

You can listen back to ChloeKnow’s Kokrobite Mix here.

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