The Indigenous Electro-Fusion project brings together traditional drumming, chanting and acoustic instruments from Africa with beats, basslines and samples from the world of electronic dance music.
Since first touring the UK in 1996, Indigenous People have explored a number of different partnerships to develop electro fusion projects with the Kakatsitsi Master Drummers from Ghana. A detailed description of these previous partnerships, and the variety of cultural issues that have arisen relating to dynamics of the fusion process, can be found here.
The most successful collaboration so far has been with Japanese producer and DJ Kay Suzuki aka Afrobuddha, who producer an Afro-House remix one of Kakatsitsi’s oldest songs, Ogbame.
Kakatsitsi’s manager / producer Steve Peake then remix the Dub Version of Afrobuddha’s mix to create the ‘Indigenous Remix’, with the drums re-edited and turned up in the mix to create a more indigenous, African sound.
After performing with The Orb on the West-Holts Stage at Glastonbury Festival in 2013, 2014 saw Kakatsitsi working on an ‘in house’ fusion project with their manager / producer Steve Peake and former Ministry of Sound DJ / producer Rebecca Vasmant which was performed at festivals in Scotland such Audio Soup, Kelburn Festival, the Edinburgh Mela and the Knockengorroch Festival.
While there have been a variety of other remixes done of Kakatsitsi’s music, such as by Jose Marquez and Afriquoi, none have been up to the group’s high standards.
One track with which Kakatsitsi are happy creatively is a mix of a song entitled ‘Gonje’, featuring Dela Botri – Ghana’s leading traditional flautist – on the ‘Atenteben’ bamboo flute.
Creative Ethos and Production Values
All too often, world-dance fusion projects are characterised by a marked imbalance between the western studio / label on the one hand and the world musicians on the other. Invariably, the world musicians are excluded from much of the creative process, particularly the post-production – their music and culture recorded and then arranged by western producers with little knowledge of traditional arrangements or the sensitivities and sensibilities the traditions deserve. As a result, the end-product is invariably over-westernised, losing much of the beauty and appeal of the music in its traditional form and relegating the traditional component to the status of a mere adornment on top of a western dance beat. This reflects the underlying nature of the relationship between the west and communities of the South – the imbalance of cultural and economic power achieving expression through the music.
The Indigenous People Electro Fusion Project seeks to readdress this imbalance by empowering the participating musicians by adopting production values and processes that are designed to harness the broader appeal of working with western dance music without losing much of the meaning and beauty of the traditional element. Participating producers will ideally adopt supportive rather than domineering creative roles, enabling the knowledge and wisdom of the traditional musicians to achieve fullest expression so as to strike an appropriate balance between the two cultures – enough electronica to interest the wider dance music audience but enough traditional content and arrangement to preserve and respect the traditional element.
For example, as well as having the traditional drummers perform their rhythms on traditional instruments, it is also possible to programme their patterns into the drum machines / sequencers so that they can generate electronic sounds. Furthermore, the drummers can also play electronic drums such as the Roland SPD series, the Korg Wavedrum or the Xylosynth, creating new and interesting sounds yet preserving the element of live performance and musicianship.E