As the dust settles on the Portobello Summer Festival, we decided to catch up with Westway Arts Squad member Kemi Ade-Onojobi.
The Westway Arts Squad is a new initiative, launched at this year’s festival, which saw 9 young people passionate about the arts and local to North Kensington, get involved in the running of the event. They assisted festival-goers, ran surveys, took footage, and in the case of Kemi Ade-Onojobi, did a takeover of our Twitter account!
You grew up in the area, what’s your favourite thing about it?
I’d say my favourite thing about Notting Hill is that it’s so vibrant and diverse in every sense. People of every faith/race/class/age can live together in the same environment and genuinely appreciate one another’s differences. I think it’s such a beautiful thing to embrace multiculturalism in this way!
What sort of music are you into?
Music-wise I think I’m definitely influenced by the diversity of my hometown. I love music with every essence of my being (haha) & I’m sure I could talk about my musical inspirations all day if I had enough time (and an audience who cared about my opinions enough :P). I’d say I’m an old soul at heart, I love a lot of traditional jazz and swing artists like Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra. I’ve always had a strong connection to r&b, hip hop and soul music. Nowadays I listen to a lot of contemporary stuff too… I think Dave and AJ Tracey are very special. I have a lot of respect for the way AJ put Ladbroke Grove on the map. I appreciate how bold his lyrics are too.
Had you attended the Portobello Summer Festival before?
Funnily enough, I’ve actually been going to the festival every year for as long as I can remember, but I think as a kid I was too young and excited about being there that I had no idea what it actually was or what it was for.
Top 3 Moments from the Day?
This year I’d say all my favourite moments were the moments spent with my other WAS team members 😛 They’re all such a fun group to be around and I definitely made some really fun memories. It was especially exciting when Nafisah and I were on the Portobello roam shift and bumped into this lady who let us hold her albino snake (who she brings to the festival every year!) It was really cool listening to her life story and what she loves most about living here.
Least favourite part of the day?
My least favourite part of the day was probably the fact we didn’t get to be at every stage at once
. There were so many amazing performers and I’m so sad they didn’t all get more time to be heard.
Who were your favourite acts? Did you know them beforehand?
I thought Sadie Sinner was marvellous and I think the whole Cocoa Butter Club is a phenomenal platform that’s really representing people of colour in such a wonderful way! The Artful Dodger’s performance definitely deserved the hype it was given – there was so much energy on the Green that day! Such good vibes. It was interesting to see Louie Le Vack perform too as he was my mentor a few years ago on this summer youth programme I did! He probably wouldn’t remember, haha.
What was live-tweeting like on the day for you?
Live-tweeting was difficult but really fun! My phone went dead about 3 times but luckily I got to borrow my brother’s portable charger which is super powerful.
Will you be back next year?
I think I’ll definitely be back again next year. It’s nice feeling so involved with my community. Plus, it’s free.
What are you up to for the rest of the summer?
For the rest of summer I’m hoping to make some more art that continues on from a project I did a few years ago about the people who live in my area. I think it’s really important that people’s stories are heard and that people feel seen – all kinds of people from every background. To me, art is the best way to do that!