The Very Best is Malawi’s Esau Mwamwaya and London based producer Johan Hugo (We Don’t Belong in Pacha).
Esau Mwamwaya was born in Mzuzu, North Malawi. He grew up in the capital, Lilongwe, where he played drums in various bands such as Masaka Band. He was a good friend of the legendary Evison Matafale and they played together for several years.
In 1999 Esau Mwamwaya moved to London, England, where he ran a second-hand furniture store in Clapton, East London.
Esau’s shop was on the same street as Johan’s old Radioclit production studio, and after Johan and fellow Radioclit member Etienne Tron bought a bike from Esau in 2008, the duo invited Esau Mwamwaya into their studio to collaborate on the mixtape that would launch their career.
Containing an infectious cross-pollination of samples and rhythms anchored by Esau’s soaring vocals, the mixtape quickly went viral (with approx. 850,000 downloads to date). Pitchfork offered them a slot at their festival for their U.S. debut, and worldwide tour dates for their infamous live shows followed.
2010 saw the release of the trio’s full length Warm Heart of Africa – featuring Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig and MIA – which led them to share the stage with Florence & the Machine, The xx, Mumford and Sons, and Vampire Weekend across Australia, Europe, and Africa.
Since then The Very Best, now a duo, have laid down tracks in a Swedish cottage for the Super Mom mixtape and rented a bare bones studio in Lilongwe, Malawi to record some of the tracks that made up their second record, 2012’s MTMTMK. They have also soundtracked a 2013 documentary, Village Beat’s Tough Bond.