Demba, also known by his artistic name Dembis Thioung, is a mesmerizing master of the dunduns - the melodic and hypnotic West African bass drums. The traditional West African Dundun, are a set of three double sided drums hit with sticks made by wood and cowskin that make up the HEARTBEAT, the MELODY and the SOUL of traditional West African ensemble djembe music.
As the child of a Griot mother (a hereditary caste among the peoples of estern Africa whose function is to keep an oral history of the tribe or village and to entertain with stories, poems, songs, dance) and a Laube father (drum maker and wood workers caste), he was born in Dakar in 1986. Dembis was introduced to the art of traditional and contemporary Senegalese musical techniques by following his mother - a professional dancer - to rehearsals and performances since birth. He started making drums at a very young age (12 years old) and continued his musical apprenticeship at the prestigious Blaise Senghor Centre Culturel, led by Djioncounda Ndaye, and at the popular Fass quarter in Senegal. The time spent with these illustrious companies pushed his innate talent further and he is now recognized by his contemporaries as being a professional and adept thiounguiste (percussionist), who has refined his knowledge of the Dundun, Djembe, Sabar and Asico drums.
Dembis came to the UK in 2010 at the age of 24, whilst on tour with Ballet Daradji. Since then he has been in high demand, both as a performer and a teacher. He currently works for a number of companies, including AKOMAASA PERFROMING ARTS ACADEMY lead by Akosua Boaye, where he recently has played for her weekly classes at the Canterbury Christ Church University.
He teaches drumming to adults and to children in schools in partnership with Landing Mane (Jamo Jamo Arts) He is also a core member of Irineu Nogueira’s Afro-Brazilian Dance Company ABEIE who has travelled with all over Europe and the Caribbean. Furthermore, he also freelances for the following West African dance artists: Aida Diop (traditional West African dance), Almamy Camara (traditional Guinean dance), Batch Gueye (Sabar dance) and Alesandra Seutin (Germaine Acogny Technique), Diene Sagna
Currently Dembis hosts a weekly Dundun Drum Circle class at the Village in Notting Hill and is about to complete the 5th edition of the Dundun Drum & Dance workshop series, a successful event that gathers dance and drum masters and students from all over the country, ages and levels. Dembis is also a versatile independent performing artist and has played live, and recorded albums with internationally acclaimed artists such as Baaba Maal and Carlou D, as well as collaborated with Film Composer Harry Escott recording the main soundtrack theme for the second season of the FOX TV
Series “Deep Estate”.
Dembis’s aptitude for music, means that his skills as a percussionist are not reserved for West African rhythms alone, and he is able to, and is keen on working with artists from other musical backgrounds. He currently collaborates with Venezuelan singer Luzmira Zerpa (lead singer of FAMILY ATLANTICA) on duet performances, he is also working in a project with the Brazilian singer and songwriter Nina Miranda (worldly known for her hit “Underwater Love”).