How are you, what’s good and bad in your world right now?
Hey Sweet Music! I am doing great, thank you for asking! Well, that’s quite a starter. I am really bummed that we are in full restrictions in terms of the party scene. Looks and feels like it’s taking ages and I just hope that everything will get better real soon. Now for the good part, my album Voices of Liberation will be released on Madorasindahouse Records on August 13th. I am really excited about it, and I can’t wait for the big day!
Tell us about your journey into music and the clubs, labels, DJs and experiences that made you into the artist you are?
Growing up in a village nearby Rotterdam I got introduced to 2-step, jungle, drum & bass and also the harder dance styles (Early Rave, Hardcore, Jumpstyle, Techno) at a young age. Slowly I got more and more interested in (Dutch) House and in 2010 a friend of mine introduced me to Black Coffee and I was instantly in love with that sound. Since then, I started to collect tracks, back then there was a platform called afrodesiamp3.com which was basically a platform similar to Beatport and Traxsource, but the main focus was on African oriented House.
In 2012 I noticed that Culoe De Song played at the venue Djoon in Paris, so together with two friends we travelled over and had the times of our lives. This feeling of the crowd blending into one on the dancefloor, it was something I never experienced before. In the Netherlands there really wasn’t an event showcasing African oriented House, therefore I created Liberation in 2012. In the years that passed by I promoted events and booked artists in the likes of Black Coffee, Osunlade, Culoe De Song, Manoo, Djeff and many more amazing artists mainly at clubs in Rotterdam, but also in Amsterdam during the Amsterdam Dance Event.
My good friend and ‘teacher’ Rancido got a massive release at Innervisions in 2015 and introduced me to yet another scene with great artists who had big following in the Netherlands. I partied wherever there was a lineup that I liked and got inspiration from artists such as Dixon, Ame, Henrik Schwarz, &ME, Kink, Tale of Us etc. Especially in combination with the big stages at festivals like DGTL, Welcome to the Future, Strafwerk etc.
When I play for a crowd, I like to read the crowd and play within the whole array of African oriented House, whether it’s Soulful, Melodic, Techy or just straight up Afro.
What made you want to do an album of collabs? When did you have the idea?
I have always been a fan of tracks with vocals, for me it brings another dimension to a song. After I created Lahloma and Love Again, Toshi replied that she was down to collaborate and by that time I felt like there was something special going on. At that time Liberation collaborated with Madorasindahouse to do an event in Rotterdam and after letting them hear the tracks Harry told me that he wanted to have it. The idea to collaborate with amazing artists/vocalists started to grow and to give my productions an extra impact, I decided to create an album of 10 tracks with my favourite vocalists. On top of that it will be released by one of the leading African House oriented labels in the world; Madorasindahouse Records.
How different is your sound and how differently do you work with others?
In my opinion my music feels more approachable to people who are not yet familiar with African oriented House. Obviously, every track is different but I try to think about what would work within the Afro scene internationally but also in the Netherlands and blend it together.
How did you decide who to work with and why? Did you chose people based on friendships or what they might bring or the sound you were aiming for?
Normally I create a beat and okay this will sound cheesy I close my eyes and listen to it and think and imagine who will sound dope on it. If I feel like the demo is ready, I send an email or DM to the vocalist if they are keen to collaborate and how they operate. If they are keen, I send the beat and up until now actually all the vocalists where down to work with the beat.
Now to get back to your question I also choose people based on the sound I am aiming for. It might happen the vocalist delivers something I didn’t have in mind, but because it’s a collaboration I always try to keep us both happy. Sometimes after receiving the vocals, I decide to create a totally different vibe and make a new beat that fits.
How did you work, like online or in person? What impact does that have on the music itself?
All the vocalists of the album live in Africa, so unfortunately, we couldn’t record in the studio together. The track Choose You with Lelloh was created together in the studio. Lelloh played a part in the Lion King musical in the Netherlands, and after her attending at Liberation we connected, and I invited her to the studio. Being together in person creates chemistry and a better workflow in my opinion. I am very thankful we live in a world where everything is just a click away and we (or I) can work with people from all over the world.
What draws you to afro-influenced sounds? Why do you like them?
For me it’s just the full combination of the rhythms of the percussion and the way the (live) instruments are played. But something that draws me the most are vocals that I don’t understand yet and that feels so deeply in my core. In the album I thought it was important to also have people sing in English to make it more approachable for people. I don’t believe in labels, but I know a lot of people do. I hope the mix works as a magnet and people will also listen to the tracks that are sung in Zulu, Xhosa and Swahili.
About the vocals on the album, who wrote them, how important is their content, or is it more about the sounds they bring?
The vocals are written by the vocalists who I collaborated with and it’s something I don’t want to interfere with because it’s a collaboration. I take care of the production, the vocalist takes care of the vocals. With some tracks I asked if they can also add English in the vocals to make it more approachable. But the most important thing with music is, that you just have to feel it and in that part all the artists have done an amazing job! How cool would it be to have a crowd sing along with a song and not knowing what they’re singing.
What’s next, what else are you working on?
Up until now the main focus has been on the album. The release was delayed because of COVID, so for me it feels like a good time to get the album/music out now! In the meantime, I have been working on new music and more (new) collaborations. For now I want the focus to be on the album, but I could make a second album with what I have right now. Not sure what the next step(s) will be, but I am very excited about what the future has to bring.