Saturday, July 20, 2013


Interesting Guardian article on the Ten Cities project which forges links between European beat-makers and their counterparts within the "global ghetto" /"shanty house" beat-scenes of Africa. 

Groove magazine's Florian Sievers, while interviewing me for the magazine about Energy Flash recently, mentioned this project, which he's running together with the Goethe-Institut, the German cultural organisation. Ten Cities involves musical performances, collaborative recordings, documentaries, and ultimately a book, and it is an attempt to explore the differences and the affinities between "club culture, dance music, public sphere, and urban spaces" in "African and European cities". Says Sievers,  "it is the biggest project that Goethe-Institut Africa has ever funded." 

Florian and I had been discussing the difficulties for even the most curious and dedicated of beat-geeks re. finding out what these xeno-riddims actually signified in their native context: you could access the beats, thanks to the internet, but the surrounding web of subculture, all the the rituals and behaviors associated with the music, were inaccessible to you, along with the place this music scene had in the wider culture. So it was inevitably a somewhat superficial form of  exoticism.  

Ten Cities seems like a vast improvement on and vital corrective to the typically one-directional, trend-hopping relationship of dance hipsterati to the succession of xeno-beats from favela zones around the world; a relationship which  rather too often resembles a procedure of cultural-capital extraction than a reciprocal engagement.

Blurb from the Ten Cities website:

Whether it's in Nairobi or in Kiev, in Bristol or in Cairo: in all the major cities of Africa and Europe, people get together in dedicated spaces to dance to music and party – and create communities, subcultures and public spheres. Club culture is a global phenomenon, but what music are these people dancing to in these cities and what music did they use to dance to in the past? In what sort of spaces do they meet up? What public spheres do they form? What do these club cultures mean to the urbanity of a city? And what happens when the club music from two different continents meet head on?

We will look at ten cities on two continents that have been influential centres for club music up to now: the European cities of Berlin, Bristol, Kiev, Lisbon and Naples and the African cities of Cairo, Johannesburg, Luanda, Lagos and Nairobi.

TEN CITIES is a journey of musicians and writers. It consists of a music- and a research part. The project brings together about 50 DJs, producers and musicians from the ten cities, enabling them to cooperate and produce music together. This part is guided by ten local curators in each city who have chosen the participants, together with a central curatorial group in Berlin and Nairobi, and are facilitating the cooperations. Intensive work periods by the participating musicians in the ten cities will form the central stages of the project, accompanied by concerts and parties. At the same time, a research project will use the perspective of club cultures to explore and investigate again a crucial notion of political theory: the public sphere. From a different perspective than the usual research tradition and in a serial, intercultural approach. About 20 authors, all from the city they are writing about, will tell us the history of club music in those ten cities, and the history of the public spheres that have been formed around club music for the last 50 years. More content will be published on this website, among others: city portraits by our musical curators, free downloads, mix tapes, photography and visual content. In addition, we will screen film series with a selection of documentaries and feature films on club culture in different parts of the world, in most cities, in cooperation with the local Goethe-Instituts.

Participating producers and musicians:
Adeniyi Abiodon Akeem, Alai K, Andi Teichmann, Aremu, Ayo Odiah, Batida, Bikya, Caetano, Camp Mulla, Cannibal, Diamond Version, Dirty Paraffin, DJ Satelite, DJ Raph, DJeff, Dubmasta, Duro Ikujenyo, Gamebouy, Gboyega Oyedele, General Plago, Hannes Teichmann, Ibrahim Cox, Jah Device, Just A Band, Lucio Aquilina, Marco Messina, MC Sacerdote, MC Viola, Moonchild, Mother Perera, Muthoni, Nelly Ochieng, Nothando Megogo, Octa Push, Octopizzo, Olegbade Oluwafemi Moses, Oren Gerlitz, Pinch, Planet Lindela, P.O.P., Rob Smith, Salam Salam Agidigbo Band, Temi Oyedele, Thabiso Mohare, Themba Mokoena, Thuli Mdlalose, Tito Pulling Strings, Tshepang Ramoba (BLK JKS), Vakula, Wetrobots, Wura Samba and more... Participating writers and researchers: Angela Mingas, Bill Odidi, Carly Heath, Danilo Capasso, Florian Sievers, Iain Chambers, Joyce Nyairo, Kateryna Dysa, Michelle Henning, Mudi Yahaya, Rangoato Hlasane, Rehan Hyder, Rui Abreu, Sean O'Toole, Toni Ogaga, Vincenzo Cavallo, Vitalji Bardezkij, Vitor Belanciano and more...

TEN CITIES is a project of the Goethe-Institutes in Sub-Saharian Africa organized by Goethe-Institut Kenya and the Berlin collective Adaptr.Org in cooperation with the Centre for Postcolonial Studies at the University of Naples and a network of partners in ten cities.

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