Pierre Kwenders: The ‘Ransom Note’ Mix

Press Photo by Daniele Fummo
Written by Annie Parker

Whether it be through the medium of celebratory Congolese rumba or sensual downtempo afrobeat,  Pierre Kwenders uses his music to share his experience of the universal complexities of romance.

The musician, songwriter and DJ immigrated from Congo to Montreal in 2001 where he would eventually set forth on a musical path that would maintain this dual heritage at its very core. An illustrious and far-reaching career would follow, one that would traverse music production and enter the realm of community-building.

Kwenders established the Moonshine Collective in 2014 alongside streetwear designer Hervé Kalongo with the intention of giving a platform to some of the sounds of Montreal’s African diaspora. It has since blossomed into a global-reaching institution, manifesting in an event series and record label.


When he wasn’t organising parties, Kwenders has spent the last four years in the studio working on his latest album. ‘José Louis and the Paradox of Love’ reveals the musical dexterity he has honed over the years, with thirteen syrup-smooth tracks which, in almost every way, relish in plurality.

Kwenders raps in Lingala, French, English, Tshiluba, and Kikongo and includes instruments such as the guitar, saxophone, cello, trumpet, violin, and the Mbira, a plucked idiophone from Zimbabwe. He collaborated with a variety of artists including King Britt, Win Butler and Branko and did so over a handful of cities across borders including Montreal, Lisbon, Seattle, New York City, Philadelphia, and New Orleans. It’s not surprising that the product transcends genre, but Kwenders’ Congolese heritage remains at its essence.

His ‘Ransom Note’ mix is packed with different flavours, from afrobeat to amapiano and we can assure you this: the vibes are RIGHT.


Please introduce yourself… Who are you, where are you and what are you?

I’m Pierre Kwenders, Vié Mogo PKchu, singer songwriter DJ and sometimes producer.

What does your music sound like? Can you draw what you think it sounds like for us?

Joie de Vivre (The joy of Life)


Where was the mix recorded?

This mix was recorded in Toronto in a cute little airbnb in Parkdale.

What would be the ideal setting to listen to the mix?

Stand up if you want to dance or sit back with glass of wine and enjoy the ride!

What should we be wearing?

Be comfortable, wear your best, be your best. That’s the whole mood.

What would be your dream setting to record a mix: Location/system/format?

The dream setting is to not be alone and actually record it with an audience. Which I’ve done before and it feels great.

Which track in the mix is your current favourite?

Trobul by Sarz & WurlD


What’s your favourite recorded mix of all time?

San Farafina for Reprezent Radio

If you could go back to back with any DJ from throughout history, who would it be and why?

I’d love to go back to back with DamFunk. He played at Moonshine once and I was blown away by his ability to sing and mix at the same. I’d learn from him to be as good as him. He’s a legend!

What was your first DJ set up at home and what is it now?

I started doing with my computer using Ableton Live with a controller Akai MkII, and now I’ve made my way to cdjs using only my USB key.

What’s more important, the track you start on or the track you end on?

They’re both equally important. The first sets the vibe and last confirms the vibe.

What were the first and last records you bought?

First record I bought was Nelly Suit & Sweat. The latest record I bought is Alameda 2030 by Merci & Marco.

One record in your collection that is impossible to mix into anything?

Nothing is ever impossible to mix into anything. There’s no boundaries in mixing as long as everything flows.

What’s upcoming in the world of Pierre Kwenders?

Touring this summer in few festivals in Canada. Djing around the globe with my collective Moonshine. We will be in London in June 😉

Anything else we need to discuss?

Look out for Zaïre Space Program!