Joni Haastrup came of age in a royal household in the waning days of colonial Nigeria; his grandfather was a king in the Yoruba town of Ilesa in Western Nigeria. Joni grew up surrounded by music, local drummers would perform for his grandfather whilst a steady flow of old American 78′s and calypso discs were on rotation at the local record shop.
So it was little surprise Joni chose to become a musician. The burgeoning jazz tinged high-life scene he walked into was led by bands like the Abalabi Rhythm Dandies and Eddie Okonta & his Top Aces all basking in their country’s newfound independence after years of British colonial rule. It was in the midst of this a young Joni Haastrup made his debut singing in his brother’s band Sneakers at a 1964 New Year’s gig in Ondo.
Later in 1966, when James Brown was all the rage, O.J. Ekemode and his Modern Aces’ released their ‘Super Afro Soul’ LP, an album that many see as laying the foundations of Afro-beat. Featuring Joni Haastrup on vocals, an unknown Fela Ransome Kuti sat in on trumpet before taking up sax and forming the Koola Lobitos.
At this point Joni Haastrup tearing up stages across Western Nigeria and soon became known as his country’s “Soul Brother Number One”. Later that year the cover band Clusters International, seeking a dynamic stage presence took Joni as their front man, a role Joni flourished in for the next few years.
In 1971, an invitation from Ginger Baker was extended to Joni Haastrup as part of the Airforce tour and the success of the collaborations was to be a catalyst for Joni’s Nigerian exodus and the forming of MonoMono.
Joni Haastrup lives in Oakland California and is available for interviews.