Live Music & Edutainment
Zambonja rehearses in my basement studio.
Zambonja combines solo live drums, percussion, keyboards, and guitars, with backing tracks, along with a fully animated band of up to a dozen musician cartoon characters. We play a variety of rhythm-heavy, very danceable music from around the world, with an emphasis on percussion and audience participation of all ages.
Yes, it sounds a little goofy, but it works. It's also a helluva lot less hassle and headache than a fully human 12 piece band!
Zambonja is the culmination of a lifetime of music and travel by Grammy-nominated percussionist, and award-winning journalist and educational animator, myself, Mark Giles.
I had been developing this solo production in 2019 at Akadi West African Food, an excellent restaurant in Portland, Oregon. Then covid hit so I took the project back to development and made it even bigger, with the full-size band I always imagined I could produce. I can perform live shows for schools and colleges, clubs, casinos, resorts, and cruises, where I can present a captivating and informative production to suit any audience. I can also produce custom animations and characters for weddings, conventions, and special events.
Unfortunately, in this day and age, to put a real human twelve-piece band together is an economically unsustainable and logistic nightmare. With this 2D band, I can conduct a very full sound with all the colors of a full orchestra, yet cost much less to produce.
This is the first time on the planet that this has been attempted! No, really! Even Adobe, who developed the animation software, is impressed. Check out their community spotlight video below. Bands like PInk Floyd & Gorillaz have played a few songs with animation, but a whole band playing for a couple of hour sets is totally unprecedented!
Suffice it to say, it has been an incredible amount of work. I must be crazy to do this, but I have a vision to adapt all kinds of interactive solo performances with the animated band, which I now know works as well as I had imagined.
Zambonja can be a solo human production, though a two or three-piece, with added live percussionists, is the preferred lineup.
I am seeking bookings! My dream gig is producing enrichment entertainment for cruises and resorts, combining animation, eco-education, travel guides with musical performance..
My ideal local PDX gig would be a regular house band situation (where I can leave the drum kit at the venue) and play two or three nights a week, developing songs and animations custom-made for the venue. I would love to collaborate with a theater, musical, or drag group as the backing band for singers and performers.
I am immediately seeking Portland street performance opportunities, especially near outdoor restaurants, food trucks, farmers markets, and eateries.
Please "follow" Zambonja on Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, Twitter and Twitch. Thank you so much!!
Mark Giles (aka Zambonja) podium presenter lecture titles.
Each presentation can run from 40-60 minutes. I use animated videos that I have produced myself on a projector screen, preferably at ground level so that I can interact with the life sized animated characters on the screen.
1) As a lifelong animator, now sixty, with two Grammy nominations for world music and multiple awards for journalism, I present a video portfolio of animation work I have produced during my career. I have worked for every major advertising agency and newspaper in the US.
I also lived in Africa, Central America, the Caribbean, US and UK and have many years experience in natural history and environmental advocacy (see www.markgiles.com)
2) I show my working process how I produce 2D animations and how I interact with them. I show how I built the first ever 12 piece all cartoon band, which won me a great contract with Adobe to build and interactive drummer puppet.
Audience members can play with the animated puppets in real time. It is very cool and fun for all ages.
3) I present a variety of claymation and stop motion animations, and then together we create a quick stop motion movie, with audience interaction and participation.
4) I have an hour of a three-piece animated band that plays music with all African themes (projected full size beside me, interlaced with information graphics and facts about the natural history, musical culture, and history of various countries. This presentation includes trivia cards that the audience may fill out to win a Zambonja T-shirt or album. For best effect, I play a cruise ship drum kit as well as an acoustic guitar that I bring on board with me.
This is the backing video I perform with https://youtu.be/hktYRxqyyt4
5) My main show. I talk and play an hour of music with a 12-piece animated band, Zambonja. The band interacts with me on stage. This is the backing track video the I developed with Adobe. https://youtu.be/W8UpUN2IHsE
6) I can work with an audience to create original animations, characters and stop motion animations as a workshop for an hour.
I am developing other presentations specific to the Caribbean and Latin America, as well as being open to new subjects related to travel.
Jambonja is a made-up word, mixing the names of countries that I grew up in; Zambia, Nigeria, Kenya, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Jamaica.