Access Creative College Manchester Hosts Inspiring Session with Femi Koleoso of Ezra Collective

Students of Access Creative College (ACC) Manchester are celebrating a visit from Femi Koleoso, the drummer and bandleader of the acclaimed British jazz quintet, Ezra Collective. Fresh off the band’s Mercury Prize win, Femi shared insights from his career so far, captivating students with his reflections on perseverance, collaboration, and the essence of musical expression. He also had a jam with ACC band, B Street.

Femi’s journey in the music industry began when he formed a band with friends he met at his youth club in 2012. They performed at youth focused events, taking advantage of the opportunities presented by the 2012 Olympics in London, and slowly worked up to performing at bigger venues like Hyde Park. A breakthrough came when a rapper noticed his drumming skills at a jam session and invited him to join a tour. 


Femi Koleoso playing drums

Femi’s experiences highlight the importance of seizing opportunities and networking. He recalls reaching out to Little Simz, one of his favourite rappers, after she posted on Twitter looking for a drummer. Though he didn’t ultimately land the gig, the process taught him valuable lessons about resilience and the unpredictable nature of the industry.

Despite the huge success he’s had already, Femi’s career is very much still gaining momentum, with notable highlights including touring with Jorja Smith, performing at iconic venues like the Manchester Albert Hall and Brixton Academy, and participating in festivals like Glastonbury and Coachella. His involvement with multiple projects, including Ezra Collective and Gorillaz showcases his versatility as a musician.

Despite setbacks and rejections along the way, Femi emphasised the importance of staying true to oneself and embracing one’s unique talents. He believes that confidence stems from recognising that each individual has something distinct to offer and that rejection is simply a part of the journey.

“If someone wants a drummer, if I am myself, when I play the drums, that’s the best I could do. If they choose someone else, there’s nothing I could do. Because I can’t be that drummer. I sound like Femi,  and I’m the only person in the world that sounds like Femi.”


Femi Koleoso talking to students

Femi also discussed the value of friendships he has cultivated throughout his career, highlighting the role they played in his success. He emphasised the significance of genuine connections and advised aspiring musicians like ACC’s students to approach collaborations with humility and an open mind.

Later in the session, B Street, one of ACC’s student bands took to the stage with Femi to perform a rendition of ‘Play that Funky Music’.

The band have been working together since the start of this academic year, describing themselves as ‘predominantly Funk and Rock – but more on the Funk side.. think of a heavier Stevie Wonder!’. 

In an interview, members of B Street shared their experience of performing alongside Femi. “Today, we actually got to perform with Femi from Ezra Collective,” said Abi, the band’s vocalist. “He was doing a Q&A, and I decided to be a bit cheeky and ask him if he would mind playing on the kit. He said he’d heard us playing ‘Play That Funky Music’ down the corridor as he arrived, and jumped at the opportunity!”

Reflecting on the experience, Abi added, “It was great! We were a bit nervous, but if you don’t do it, you’ll never know. I think a lot of it actually correlates to what he was saying in the whole talk; if you see an opportunity, you need to go for it. And obviously, that was an amazing opportunity, so we just went for it! That’s what it’s all about.”

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Last updated on: 14th March 2024