How to turn a band into a brand, with The Compozers

Jesse Williams

By Jesse Williams

Jesse Williams

27 Mar 2023

When you think of boy bands, especially in the UK it’s easy to conjure up the image of something resembling One Direction or Take That. Bands in that sense can feel like a thing of the past, as such to be thriving in that medium today takes a special collective of individuals. North London-based group The Compozers made up of Charlie “Biggz” Mensah-Bonsu and David “Melodee” Ohene-Akrasi on keyboards, Nana “Pokes” Ntorinkansah on bass and Steven Asamoah-Duah on drums are one such collective.

Having officially formed in 2008 the band has managed to build and then maintain a reputation as an industry go to. There are many ways to describe The Compozers but renaissance men feels the most apt. So much so that when Asake, Burna Boy, J Hus and Ed Sheeran require live instrumentation they search their rolodex for the quartet.  

I pulled up to chat with the guys just before they hit the stage with Sarkodie at their Ghana Independence show to talk about everything from their church background to their favourite pre-show meal.

As for the show itself, it was truly a blockbuster occasion. Being the final date of their sold out double header at the Outernet, it was fair to say expectations were high. The pair thankfully lived up to the hype in what was fitting tribute to Ghanaian music. The night was kicked off with a special guitar rendition of the Ghanaian national anthem before Sarkodie gave an all action performance, running through the greatest hits of his extensive catalogue, performing everything from ‘Illuminati’ to ‘U Go Kill Me’ which was a particular stand-out moment.

At various points in the night he jumped off stage for outfit changes and to let The Compozers do their thing which they duly obliged, taking the crowd through an epic set list of contemporary Ghanaian hits as well as the classics. It was clear to see why the boys are held in such high regard, each masters of their own respective musical craft. The set up worked perfectly to keep the momentum going, ensuring no crowd fatigue through lengthy intermissions.

Like I said prior this was a blockbuster occasion, in no small part helped by Lojay, Fuse ODG and Mista Silva who alongside Skoboriginal and Flava who came out as special guest with Juls. The night ended in a rain of confetti as Sarkodie and The Compozers put an end to the special celebration.

What made you guys feel like starting a band was the path for you guys?

S: We were always the band for artists. Then one day it was like we’re actually doing bare work on the stage. It wasn’t from a place of we want more shine, but it was like nah we’re equally as talented as these people so why don’t we create our own thing and be the ones on the front of the stage. We came up with the concept of what can we do that’s different, so the whole live mixes, live renditions of songs and it was literally one day of trial and error and from there it just stuck. 

Where would you guys say you first honed your skills?

DM: Where we really honed our skills was actually at Nana’s church. We used to just link up every week, randomly every Saturday. Charles would be like ‘yo mandem let’s link up’. I don’t think we realised it at the time but it was helping us, every single time just honing our skills. Before we knew it we knew how each other played like the back of our hands because we kept on building and growing that talent subconsciously and now we’re here. 

I know what it’s like with Ghanaian churches, Black churches at that. It’s hard to get involved with the music at first, they don’t take you seriously. Was the church willing to help you guys get to where you needed to go or was it a bit of a struggle at first?

DM: The church will never directly push you to have a go but it’s like being in a church atmosphere sharpens your skills. People take for granted being in church you’re exposed to so many genres at such a quick succession so it;’s actually bettering you as a musician. Some songs have a more rocky feel, some have a more jazzy feel, a more ballad-y feel. So when you go out to these arenas out in the open you’re much more versed and much more bullet proof I guess because you did it in the comfort of your church. 

What are your favourite genres to play?

NP: I’d say RnB and Afrobeats are the closest to home.We can be more expressive with it, it comes to us naturally. There are things that are going on in our heads and we just apply it and it sparks another idea.

CB: David touched on it. When we first started we were very intentional about building our craft. What people forget to understand is that being in a band is not about being musically good, we’re boys first. Because of that relationship it’s easier for criticism, it’s easier to grow together, it’s to get closer to the person as well personally before you even get close to them musically as well. Regardless of the genders changing as the years have gone on…

NP: Genres man. 


CB: Sorry, genres changing. It’s not really been that much of a challenge because we already know how to play together anyways. It’s a matter of adapting that mentality and that style, especially Amapiano and we do a lot of Amapiano songs.

This is the second of back to back Ghana independence day shows. You guys have rocked how many stages over the years, it’s nothing to you right now. What was the first show you did that made you think we’ve made it? 

S: I always reference  ‘A Night With The Compozers 2,’ always. In reality, in a very short space of time a big move. The band had literally been around publicly for less than two years. The first ‘A Night With The Compozers,’ was a capacity of like 300 and we’ve literally gone from 300 to 2000. Testament to that day the follow on from that was like the engine has really… You know when you start a car and you rev it? That was the rev day. From there that’s when the artist started hitting us up, the interviews started coming, the ‘ah you man are The Compozers’ when you’re walking around people are just hitting you up. I always say from that day, that day was very magical and if you even look at the footage from that day you see the emotion in all our faces we felt that moment there. 

What’s one place, one country, one venue, one stage that you haven’t done yet that you guys really want to do?

S: Madison Square Garden

DM: MSG bro. Has to be MSG man. 

What’s so special about MSG for you guys?

DM: It’s MSG bro.

S: I think in the UK if you ask someone more time where you would want to play there’s only a few places. If they don’t say MSG it’s the o2 Arena. 

NP: Or maybe Wembley arena. 

S: We’ve done Wembley arena

NP: Oh sorry Wembley stadium. I was saying this the other day. We are in a time where the things that we used to dream about we are very much living it. So we now are expanding what we’re able to dream about. Where before we used to be grateful thinking we wish we could do an (o2) Academy, we’ve been doing Academy’s it’s almost like it’s our back garden obviously with all humility. So stadiums are now where the dream is getting to and our peers in the music industry are just booking it like it’s nothing. I believe it’s something we’re gonna be able to do in the very near future. At the end of the day what we do is more than music. We’re spreading the word about the possibilities when you just stick at whatever you’re trying to do and what you can do when you focus and come together as a unit. 

You guys are from North London right? Surely the Tottenham Hotspur stadium is now like the next one? That would be a proper homecoming.

NP: Yeah, yeah, yeah, that would be a proper homecoming 100%. 

S: Defo gotta do that.

NP: That would be mad tho. The road man used to go up and down to the barbershop.

S: I’d defo have Chick King for catering.  

I’ll wrap it up with these two questions. You’ve been doing shows from London to New York to Portugal etc. You guys are globe trotting right now but when is it time to get back into the lab and get a Compozers album out? The last one was 2021 right?

CB: The thing is there’s never a month when we’re not working. We’re doing it but it’s just about time. We have so much time to do shows, we’ve just not had enough time to get into the studio and link up. But we have a lot of stuff out there, that’s going to be out there soon so for us it’s more of a timing thing. Everything has to be intentional. It’s not about just doing it because it needs to be done at this time. The right time is coming still.  

Just to end it off, I saw the food you guys ate just before. You know high level performers need high level fuel for a high level performance. What is your go to pre-game/pre-show meal?

DM: That is an interesting question.

S: Nandos

CB: Either Nandos or jollof

NP: Home food. Some home food, some comfort.