Nguzunguzu – Dubspot Q&A: Talk DJing, Diversity of Sound, more

[Femme en Fourrure - "Bronco (Nguzunguzu remix)" (Top Billin).]

If you find it a bit difficult to pin down the sound of Nguzunguzu, well, that’s sort of the appeal. The duo, who loosely describe their music as ‘global club’, are not interested in everything sounding the same. So they make it a point to constantly expand their interests by relating each new sound to what they’re already familiar with. The general thread you might pick up is big drums that avoid the four-to-the-floor trap, worldly influences, and a healthy mix of pop with their excavation dig finds. Although they find comfort in acoustic roots, they dig the vintage synth fetish thing, too. It’s dance music, after all, and electronic voltages are thoroughly wedded with these musics of the world, whether it be Francophonie dancehalls, U.S. inner cities, Latin American sound systems, or British clubs.

Their selections are usually unknown to the crowds that they play to, but they mix them with more recognizable music as a type of bridge. Bringing all these sounds together while allowing each individual identity to shine can only be a positive form of cultural communication. “We like to think that exposing people to good music is beneficial to the world,” Nuguzunguzu reflect in an interview with Dubspot. “Sharing ideas and culture, making relationships yet preserving diversity is important. We aren’t interested in making everything sound the same.”

Dubspot mentioned them in our end of year wrap up as having a significant impact on the direction we’re all going musically, and it seems that things are still gaining momentum for them. They dropped a bunch of remixes last month; when they came to New York last week, they played three shows in as many days; they recently dropped a zouk mix for Dis Magazine; and in promotion of the European tour they just embarked on, Discobelle also posted a mix from them.

[Nguzunguzu - "What Dance?" (+1 Records).]


Dubspot – Do you find that crowds who come out to see Nguzunguzu are generally open to being pushed in new directions?

Nguzunguzu – If they make it out for us and know a bit what we are like, then yes.

Do you often try and slide in stuff from left field into your sets?

We mostly play music that we are straight up into, stuff that should translate in a club environment in some way or another – but I never think about coming from left field intentionally.

All floors are different, but how long before a crowd begins losing interest?

We play a lot of music that no one in the room has heard before. But it’s often mixed with music that is more familiar.

Can you tell us a bit about the push and pull exchange between the deejay and the audience?

Like any performance, the performer and audience feed off each other. If the audience really responds to something, it can help steer a deejay in different directions.

Is there any tracks you play that get the crowd off across the board?

Yes, but they don’t always work. Every crowd is different, it depends on the show.

How many personal edits do you use in a set?

Depends… sometimes a lot, never none.

[Ratatat - "Drugs (Nguzunguzu Remix)" (XL Recordings).]

What does an Nguzunguzu edit entail?

Different every time, sometimes putting an acapella to an instrumental, adding sounds or drum beat, or blending tracks.

Do you have trouble playing some of your selections on bigger sound systems?

Every system is different and some systems sound better across the board than other smaller crappy systems. Usually, I find that on a bigger or better system everything sounds great, regardless of bitrate or being mastered. On a shittier system every track sounds more drastically different.

Do you see a social benefit to bringing all these different sounds together from all over the world?

We like to think that exposing people to good music is beneficial to the world. Sharing ideas and culture, making relationships yet preserving diversity is important. We aren’t interested in making everything sound the same.

How do you go about exploring a style you are unfamiliar with?

First, get familiar with the style. Then maybe see how it relates to what you are already familiar with.

Do you often push yourselves into unfamiliar areas?

Yes, we experiment a lot with sounds, and we often get into new music we are unfamiliar with.

[Nguzunguzu - "Oxxygenation"]

What is your studio setup?

Laptops, Ableton, Logic, monitors, mixer, MPC1000, Korg MS20, Microkorg, ARP2600, and CDJs.

What is your collaboration process?

It’s ALWAYS different. Often we start by putting sounds together we like, listening to tracks we like, deejaying, and playing around. Then we figure out more the overall sequence and mixing.

How do you go about building your soundbanks?

We’ve collected tons of sounds that we dig through, we’ll sample different things, field record sometimes or record sounds in the studio.

How do you approach writing a song?

Many of them begin from improvisation, playing live, deejaying, and getting ideas that way. Then the process gets more technical.