Yannick Koffi is an exceptional and enigmatic 11 year-old musician. Affectionately called the «musical genius» by his Japanese fans, the Australian-Ivorian appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show two years ago when he was only nine. In December 2009, the young boy gave a series of concerts in Abidjan where his talent and maturity struck many including renowned musicians like, Alpha Blondie, Ismael Isaac, Kadjeem, Désiré Gadeau and Caribbean superstar Jacob Devarieux from Kassav. Yannick has been featured in several newspapers and magazines, including LIFE, The Sydney Morning Herald and London Metro who called him a «guitar hero».
Afrik-News: What was the most memorable part of your trip to Cote d’Ivoire?
Yannick Koffi: The most memorable part of my trip was how people reacted and showed their enjoyment of my music during my performances. Some people even came up on the stage and started giving me lots of money, which doesn’t happen in Australia. I also had the chance to meet many great musicians, and I even got to perform with Ismael Isaac and Kajeem.
Afrik-News: You have so much talent at your age…
Yannick Koffi:I practise a lot, and I got some help from my father.
Afrik-News: How does such a young boy survive in the very adult world of music?
Yannick Koffi: Yes, I am aware that there are a lot of bad things in the music industry, like drugs and alcohol. Sometimes people are jealous and
that leads them to say mean things. But I am lucky to have the guidance of my dad to tell me what is right and wrong.
Afrik-News: What do you express in your music? What is your preferred instrument?
Yannick Koffi: My preferred instrument is the bass, but I really like the guitar and the keyboard too. I want to inspire kids around the world and I want them to know that they can play music like adults if they try.
Afrik-News: Who are your musical idols and role models? What music influences you?
Yannick Koffi: Richard Bona, Michael Jackson, Jimmy Dludlu, Jaco Pastorius, Stevie Wonder, Chick Corea, Al Jarreau. My music is influenced by jazz-fusion, funk, reggae, pop and African grooves.
Afrik-News: How did your meeting with Oprah occur?
Yannick Koffi: Actually, Oprah’s company contacted my dad after they saw my videos on youtube. Oprah was producing a show called “Oprah’s Search for The World’s Smartest and Most Talented Kids”, and they included a clip of me playing in the show.
Afrik-News: Who are your favourite celebrities? Who do you love the most?
Yannick Koffi: Daniel Craig, Sean Connery, Eddie Murphy, Jackie Chan,
Afrik-News: How does it feel to be a star?
Yannick Koffi: It’s great that people know who you are, and you get the chance to meet other celebrities you admire, like when I met Basile Boli, Alpha Blondy, Jacob Desvarieux and Thierry Cham. It’s great to be a star, but you shouldn’t forget that without education, you don’t become a man.
Afrik-News: Are you enrolled in an ordinary school?
Yannick Koffi: I used to go to an ordinary school, but thanks to my dad I am now attending a special performing arts school in Sydney.
Afrik-News: How do you manage school in addition to your career as a musician?
Yannick Koffi: My school is very important to me, so I do my homework and them I practice with my dad and sometimes with the band.
Afrik-News: What projects do you have planned for the summer holidays?
Yannick Koffi: I am hoping that we can get some promoters to organise some shows in Africa, especially in Cote d’Ivoire. I had such a great time performing at Parker Place, Music All, L’Acoustic and Pams that I
can’t wait to go back. People are so warm and welcoming. I would also like to take part in big musical events like Cote d’Ivoire’s 50th anniversary.
Afrik-News: What team did you support in the World Cup?
Yannick Koffi: I was cheering for Australia and Cote d’Ivoire.
Yannick Koffi’s official site