Remi Kabaka Jr. is a British DJ, record producer, percussionist, and voice actor. He is best known as the voice actor for Gorillaz drummer Russel Hobbs, and as the actual drummer and producer for Gorillaz since Humanz in 2017 and The Now Now in 2018: in 2019's Gorillaz: Reject False Icons, he is credited as an official member alongside Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett. He is the founder and leader of the audiovisual collective Gorillaz Sound System (GSS), a Gorillaz side project formed in 2008. He is also the lead creative director for Gorillaz' clothing line G Foot and was a producer for Damon Albarn’s 2011 side project DRC Music. He was also the drummer for Bobby Womack’s 2012 live band The Bravest Band. He also manages Steve Lazarides’ art gallery, a gallery that regularly displays works by the artist Banksy.
Role in Gorillaz
Remi Kabaka Jr. has been a part of Gorillaz since the beginning, becoming the voice of the band’s drummer Russel Hobbs in 2000. Kabaka was introduced to Damon Albarn through his partner Suzi Winstanley, who lived with Remi in the 90s. One night, Remi and Damon were left alone by Suzi and they immediately got along, beginning a friendship that lasts to this day. Kabaka got the part of the voice of Russel by doing an audition. He needed a language coach and six weeks of coaching to get Russel’s voice down. He was later suggested for the voice of Russel to Damon and Jamie by 2-D's original voice actor Nelson De Freitas. Kabaka has provided Russel’s voice for every audio and video appearance he’s made, from interviews and music videos to live shows and shorts and commercials. His most recent appearance as Russel is on his Things I Like podcast for Deezer and Song Machine's Machine Bitez.
Kabaka is also the founder and leader of the audiovisual project Gorillaz Sound System, originally formed with 2D’s former voice actor Nelson De Freitas in 2008. Gorillaz Sound System is a self-described “state-of-the-art audio-visual 4-man outfit incorporating all the hugely successful Gorillaz hits coupled with outsized projections of their award-winning animation.”. It is a party experience that played in various countries all over the world. Murdoc says of Gorillaz Sound System “G.S.S. are the only people I'd trust to entertain my amigos apart from myself. The way I look at it, this is kinda like the Pope giving his blessing to another parish.”. Russel is the visual face of the group, with their imagery and posters often including Russel in them, usually using an old phase one picture of Russel and his Hip-hop Machine for posters promoting their shows. Gorillaz Sound System has released mixes on streaming service such as Soundcloud and Mixcloud, as well as Youtube. Gorillaz Sound System performed a set at the 2017 Demon Dayz Festival.
Kabaka has also served as the lead creative director for Gorillaz' clothing line G Foot since the company's revival in 2017. He made additional contributions to the 2020 Gorillaz Almanac and is the creator of Russel's hot sauce brand Hobbs Hot Sauce.
Kabaka has been an integral part of the production of Gorillaz albums since Humanz in 2017, and The Now Now in 2018. Beforehand, Kabaka’s role was primarily being Russel Hobbs’ voice actor. In Humanz and The Now Now, however, Kabaka is a co-producer along with James Ford in The Now Now, and The Twilite Tone in Humanz. In Humanz, Remi was responsible for drum programming as well as gathering ideas for collaborators on the album along with The Twilite Tone. In The Now Now, Kabaka is a producer and plays drums on the album along with James Ford. Remi now also sometimes gives Hewlett ideas for music videos. In the Humility music video, he makes a cameo, playing chess with Noodle. He has continued his role as the drummer and producer for the band for Song Machine. In 2020, Kabaka joined the touring live band as a percussionist and drummer after 3 years of being the band's studio percussionist.
- He is the son of legendary Afro-rock drummer Remi Kabaka Sr., whose sound has influenced bands like The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney and Wings, and Steve Windwood's Traffic. His father has also worked with the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, Mick Jagger, and Paul Simon.
- He is good friends with British rapper and singer M.I.A., and curated an exhibition with her called Propa Tee for the 2017 Metldown Festival.
- He has also produced music for artists such as Deep Deep Water, Roméo Elvis, and Poté.
- He (and Jamie) filmed the first act of the 2019 Gorillaz documentary Gorillaz: Reject False Icons.
- He is behind most of the food recipes from Russel that have appeared since Song Machine.