Femi Koleoso/ (born 4 October 1994) is an English musician, drummer, Disc jockey, composer and record producer, best known as the bandleader for Jazz influenced band Ezra Collective as well as live drummer for virtual band Gorillaz.
Raised in Enfield, London, Koleoso attended St Matthews C of E Primary school. It was around this point in his life at age four he first took an interest in playing the Drums with the gifting of his first drum kit from his parents for Christmas. This then led to Koleoso attending North London state School Enfield Grammar School where he met UK-based jazz musician Tim Giles who taught Femi the drums until aged 18. At age 16, Koleoso joined UK jazz development organization Tomorrow's Warriors, founded by Gary Crosby (bassist) OBE who personally taught Koleoso. It was in Tomorrow's Warriors that Koleoso formed the band Ezra Collective, being one of two original members, James Mollison, that are still present in the band. Ezra Collective released Chapter 7 (2016), Juan Pablo The Philosopher (2018), You Can’t Steal My Joy (2019), with all projects incorporating a blend of afrobeat, hip hop, Grime (music genre), jazz, Afro-Cuban jazz and many more.
Koleoso whilst in Ezra Collective played on the UK Jazz circuit in venues such as Ronnie Scotts regularly, it was at this club where he was spotted by US Hip Hop legend Pharoahe Monch. This led him to touring in Pharoahe Monch’s band for 3 years. He also played more notably with Jorja Smith for 4 years and most recently has become the live drummer for virtual band Gorillaz in the year 2020 to present.
Koleoso was born 4 October 1994 in London. He is the elder child of Preacher Tope Koleoso and Kemi Koleoso. TJ Koleoso, born in 1996, Femi's younger brother is also a member of Ezra Collective on Bass Guitar. Tope Koleoso, originally from Lagos Nigeria worked in pathology as a biomedical scientist in the NHS with Kemi Koleoso also working in the NHS as a district nurse then later on as a palliative care nurse. They now both currently work full time for their local church, Jubilee Church North London, of which Tope is the senior Pastor.
Femi and his younger brother TJ grew up in Enfield North London, attending both the same primary school and secondary school. They were born into a religious household, both attending Jubilee Church from birth. Both of them still maintain an avid relationship with their faith, as well as both playing roles in the church with Femi currently being the youth leader at the church. Koleoso showed an early interest in music from showing fascination over the drummers in church as well as his older cousin who was a musician also playing music with him. Koleoso often describes his love for music coming from his parents limited CD collection which included a Fela Kuti Album, Bob Marley and Kirk Franklin. When attending Enfield Grammar School, Femi immediately took a liking to music, joining the school bands and a regular feature of end of year and assembly performances.
Koleoso went on to study jazz performance at Trinity School of Music, as Koleoso states, proudly following in the footsteps of his musical hero Fela Kuti who studied there, arriving in 1958.
Koleoso went to St Matthews C of E primary School in Enfield, North London. His secondary school education took place in Enfield Grammar School also in Enfield North London, which boasts an impressive music department. This is where Koleoso was taught the drums by jazz drummer Tim Giles, as well as piano lessons from jazz pianist Richard Fairhurst and had ensemble coaching from Malcolm Escott. Koleoso enjoyed regular performances at end of year events and assemblies, being a part of the school Rock Band, Jazz Band and Concert Orchestra where he played percussion. At age 15, after a recommendation from his drum teach Koleoso attended Tomorrows Warriors Jazz Development Program which took his jazz education to another level. He was taught by Gary Crosby OBE. Notable Alumni from Koleoso’s time in Tomorrow's Warriors include Nubya Garcia and Moses Boyd. Koleoso earned himself a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music Junior School at age 16 where he studied for 2 years. For university Koleoso attended Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. Whilst at Trinity Koleoso would also commute to Paris for drum lessons with his drumming hero Tony Allen who was the drummer for Fela Kuti.
Koleoso began his professional music career at the age of 18 when he began playing in various jazz clubs and venues around London. He was a regular feature in clubs such as Ronnie Scotts, Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band and many others. Through playing in clubs around London this gained him a place playing in former Art Blakey Jazz Messenger, Jean Toussaint. Koleoso also had a deep love for other styles of music, first getting his opportunity to play hip hop with legend Pharoahe Monch who spotted him in Ronnie Scotts. He then went on to join Jorja Smith live band in 2017.
Ezra Collective was formed in 2016, they met in jazz development organization Tomorrow's Warriors, led by Gary Crosby. Koleoso and James Mollison remain the two founding members of the band. In 2016 later on in the year, TJ Koleoso and Joe Armon Jones also joined the band who still currently play in the group. In 2019, trumpeter Ife Ogunjobi joined.
Live drumming appearances
- Ezra Collective
- Pharoahe Monch
- Jorja Smith
- Jean Toussaint
- Camilla George
- Nubya Garcia
- UEFA Champions League (2019)
- Nike Air Max (2019)
- Stella McCartney (2019)
- Louis Vuitton Mens Fashion (2020)
Louis Vuitton 200 Year Anniversary (2021)
- Nike London Runs (2021)
- Superdry (2021)
Koleoso has been upfront in various interviews with his religious beliefs. Growing up in a Christian household Koleoso attended Jubilee Church London from a young age, where he still attends. He is quoted as declaring his faith in Jesus Christ as a big influence on his music. On Ezra Collective’s EP Chapter 7, a version of Nigerian Baptist Church Hymn, I Have A God is recorded, which Koleoso says is a song he grew up with. He also lists Kirk Franklin, American Gospel Artists as a heavy influence on his musicality, being one of the CDs that was regularly played whist growing up. Koleoso currently leads Jubilee Youth, the youth group attached to Jubilee Church London in which he featured in a Nike London commercial in 2021.
Awards and nomnatiions
- Further Information: Ezra Collective
- Chapter 7 (EP) 2016 (Writer and Performer)
- "Space Is The Place" (single) 2018 (writer and performer)
- Juan Pablo The Philosopher (EP) 2018 (writer and performer)
- "Samuel L Riddim" (single) 2018 (writer and performer)
- "Reason In Disguise" (single) 2018 (writer and performer)
- "Quest For Coin" (single) 2019 (writer and performer)
- "What Am I To Do" (single) 2019 (writer and performer)
- You Can’t Steal My Joy (Album) 2019 (writer and performer)
- "Footprints" (single) 2020 (writer and performer)
- Dark Side Riddim/Samuel L Riddim (EP) 2020 (writer and performer)
- "Quest II" (single) 2020 (writer and performer)
- "More Than a Hustler (single) 2021 (writer and performer)
- Tomorrow (2018) – performer
- Addicted (2021) – writer and performer
- Digging (2021) - writer and performer
- Rose Rouge (2020) – performer
- Reason In Disguise (2019) - writer and performer
- Meanwhile (2021) – performer
- Déjà vu – (2021) - performer
- Lost (2021) (writer and performer)
- What More (2021) (writer and performer)
- Eleven (2019) (writer and performer)
- Gangsta (2021) performer
- Lost Kingdoms (2018) – performer
- Hold – (2018) performer
- Source (2018) performer
- When We Are (2018) performer
- All I do (2020) performer
- Lonely (2020) performer
- Infection in the sentence (2019) album performer
- Isang (2016) album performer
- The People Could Fly (2018) performer
- Here But I’m Gone (2018) performer
- ↑ "As everyone gets hooked on jazz, Ezra Collective are the group most locked into a groove". Loud And Quiet.
- ↑ "Femi Koleoso". Gorillaz Wiki.
- ↑ "Chapter 7, by Ezra Collective". Ezra Collective.
- ↑ "Juan Pablo: The Philosopher, by Ezra Collective". Ezra Collective.
- ↑ "You Can't Steal My Joy, by Ezra Collective". Ezra Collective.
- ↑ "EZRA COLLECTIVE +Kokoroko +Thris Tian @ISLINGTON ASSEMBLY HALL (16+) - Ronnie Scott's". www.ronniescotts.co.uk.
- ↑ "Fela Kuti". Trinity Laban.
- ↑ "Enfield Grammar School".
- ↑ "Femi Koleoso". TOMORROW'S WARRIORS.
- ↑ "REVIEW: Jean Toussaint "Young Lions" Quintet at Brilliant Corners E8". London Jazz News. July 17, 2015.
- ↑ "Printworks : Live — CHILD studio". child-studio.co.
- ↑ "Nike Air Max 90 'CS' – Celebrating 30 Years of an Icon - size? blog".
- ↑ "Femi Koleoso". Sandra‘s Closet.
- ↑ "Louis Vuitton Men's Spring-Summer 2021 Show in Tokyo — Be Good Studios". begoodstudios.com.
- ↑ "Drummer Femi Koleoso Embraces the Young Mind for Louis Vuitton | LBBOnline". www.lbbonline.com.
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