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I first heard Alsarah (originally from Sudan) through the album she did with Débruit, one of my all-time favourite artists. I remember thinking how lucky Débruit was to have met this incredibly skilled singer who wasn't afraid to collaborate with such an unconventional electronic music producer. I kept following her work and enjoyed a lot both studio albums as well as her first remix album project and its impressive producer roster. I first remixed a Nickodemus track that featured Alsarah back in 2016. Shortly after, Nickodemus - also her label boss - asked me to work on a track of the new remix album. And here it is! If you like this tune, you should also check the bootleg remix I did of Haja El Hamdaouia (Morocco) a few years ago.
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Sara Tavares is one of the Lisbon-based artists I had been following way before moving here. "Balancê" was one of my shower hits and I had dreamt of working with her for quite some time. Her vocal and guitar style is the perfect crossover between American soul and Afro-lusophone grooves. So when Kalaf from Buraka Som Sistema got in touch to offer me to work on some additional production on her new single "Coisas Bunitas", I was thrilled. I tried to add to the stems he had sent me but I couldn't find space to develop the kind of groove I had in mind so I basically re-wrote most of the instrumental, which wasn't exactly what they were expecting from me.
This first try was rejected but I didn't give up, and when I met French-Carribean pianist Karlos Rotsen (who had just moved to Lisbon) I suggested we try and write a new arrangement for this song together. We tried to blend d'Angelo-esque keys with zouk-like drums to support her soulful vocal line. The result was kind of interesting so we sent it back to Sara via Kalaf. We didn't get much feedback for a while but a few months later I got this phone call from Sara saying she wanted to include this version in her album and that we had to complete it within the next 5 days.
We spent the following 5 days in the studio, first with Karlos then with Sara, who gave us directions and provided some input. Working with her was a delight! She is funny, clear-minded and very focused. This version of "Coisas Bunitas" was included as a bonus track on the CD version of the album.
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Mop Mop is an Italian drummer, producer and DJ who lives in Berlin. This is the second remix I did for him. The first one was released on vinyl back in 2013. We have since met in Berlin a couple of times. The last time I was there, we were hanging at a super cool outdoor place where Awesome Tapes from Africa, Nomad and Chief Boima where playing tunes. Amazing vibes. I hope to see Mop Mop live soon and I'm really looking forward to hear what he is cooking next!
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I don't recall the exact tracklist of my first ever DJ set but I do remember two of the highlights of the night: Celia Cruz's "Dos Jueyes" and Elza Soares' "Mas Que Nada". I was 22 and we were at a international students residence in South Paris where my girlfriend at the time was residing. Since then, Elza Soares and this song occupy a very special place in my heart. Seeing her on stage during Recife Carnival back in 2008 only made this feeling bigger.
When I first heard her last album, the very successful "Mulher do Fim do Mundo,” it took me a while to enter its dark and bitter aesthetics, but I was really impressed by the social impact some of those songs had in Brazil. O Canal wasn't an easy song to remix and instead of rewriting the rhythm and structure as I usually do, I chose to strip it down instead. I tried to remove some of the string and guitar layers to create space for the vocals and the rhythm. And I did all of his into a quite short timeframe, so I can now hear some things I wish I had time to do better, but hey.... Chill!
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I first released this album on my own back in June 2015. The album was really well received by DJ's and radio stations. It was the album of the week on WDR Funkhaus Europa (Germany) and got some airplay on Radio Nova (France) and BBC Radio 6. Both Mount Kimbie and Bonobo played the opening tune "Sadeo" on their NTS radio show. After a few months, Soundway Records got in touch to release the album. They printed it on vinyl (a few copies left here!) and re-released it in October 2016. Around the same period I put together a band to perform a live launch tour. The band was composed of Binisa Bonner (bass + vocals), Benoit Crauste (saxophone), Kino Sousa (ableton controls) and myself on guitar. You can read more about the content of this album here in the "Hafa track by track" section.
Free download HERE
I met the guys of the London Afrobeat Collective back in 2010 when we (as part of Groovalizacion Radio) were commissioned by an Irish music festival to produce a radio documentary on afrobeat. We then did a series of interviews in London to feature some of the current afrobeat activists. Over the years I stayed in touch with these guys and went to see them perform whenever I was in London. So when I was offered to remix their music I thought I'd give it a shot. I brought the syncopated drums and my vocal chopping style in the mix to put together this dancefloor banger. Tested and approved by many crowd movers around the world!