News

Vaudou Game Are Bringing Togolese Vodun Funk To Hot Casa

Led by Togolese singer/composer Peter Solo, Vodun Funk band Vaudou Game will make their LP debut with 'Apiafo' (9/22 via Hot Casa Records).


It may come as no surprise that the label housing the funk of Vaudou Game is Hot Casa Records, the Paris-based afro soul and tropical funk label founded by Julien Lebrun and Djamel Hammad. The link-up was natural and automatic, just like the sounds flowing from the group's forthcoming Apiafo LP. The record, which is due out September 22nd, delivers funky, danceable sounds that may seem new in jaded digital playgrounds. They've already won over the heart of Gilles Petersen, who showed them love when he inducted them into his record of the week club on BBC, and now the group is about to hit hard on the concert circuit.

The band of six is led by Peter Solo, a singer and composer born in Aného- Glidji, Togo, birthplace of the Guin tribe and home to voodoo culture. Solo is joined by Vicente Fritis on keyboards/backing vocals, Jerôme Bartolome on saxophone/percussions/backing vocals, Guilhem Parguel on trombone/percussions/backing vocals, Simon Bacroix on bass/backing vocals, Hafid Zouaoui on drums, and sound engineer Stephane Pauze. Their debut album Apiafo was entirely produced and recorded, mixed and mastered with old tapes and vintage instruments. Solo formed Vaudou Game in Lyon, France, with the vision of codifying the musical scales that are found in sacred songs of Beninese and Togolese vodun music. The terms "vadou" and "voodoo," which come from the word "vodun," refer to spirit and name a blended culture of voodoo practices from different West African ethnicities. Translating tradition into modern instrumentation, Solo states that he composed Apiafo based on the two main musical scales of voodoo tradition. The first track, "No Problem," comes out clean as it sets up the blueprints for the rest of the album to pull from tradition with a spirit of celebration.

The first of the two 'voodoo scales' that inspired Solo takes a deep draw off raw funk, linking in the flavor of 70s bands like L’Orchestre Poly Rythmo De Cotonou to El Rego. The funkiest tracks off the record, “Pas Contente” and “Wrong Road,” have guest vocals from Solo’s uncle, 70s soul pioneer Roger Damawuzan. Their collaboration on "Pas Contente" is a true highlight that smacks with psychedelic trance. The second of the two scales has never been translated for modern instruments. It evokes deep feelings and a sacred ambiance. The moving "Ata Calling" is an invocation to a supreme divinity, and a precious golden nugget off the record. The idea of integrating these haunting lines, sung in honor of the divinities, to an energetic 70s afro-funk was an obvious extension in Solo's mind of the analogy he found between this vodun tradition and Blues and Funk, as well as the R&B of James Brown, Otis Redding and Wilson Picket. “Meva” is another stand-out that moves listeners along the two scales. Upholding tradition with blazing psychedelic riffs, Vaudou Game are about to embark on a full European tour. See a list of dates and watch their latest video for "Pas Contente" below. Apiafo is due out September 22nd via Hot Casa Records.

Tour dates:

August 29th : Plein les Feuilles festival - Pavie - France

September 4th : Rotown - Rotterdam - Netherlands

September 5th : the Great Wide Open festival - Netherlands

September 6th : Merleyn - Niejmegen - Netherlands

September 7th : Rasa festival - Utrecht Netherlands

September 13th : L’esplanade - Bègles - France

September 19th : la Sirène - La Rochelle - France

September 27th : Afrikokoa party at the RichMix - London - UK

October 11th : la Cave à Musique - Macon - France

October 24th : Nuit Zébrée Radio Nova at La Bellevilloise - Paris - France

October 25th : Cosmic Groove party at Rockstore - Montpellier - France

November 1st : Le Sucre - Lyon - France

Novembre 7th : la Clef - Saint Germain-en-Laye - France

Novembre 21st : Le Plan - Ris Orangis - France

Novembre 27th : le Pédiluve - Chatenay Malabry - France

November 28th : l’EMB - Sannois - France

November 29th : le Noumatrouff - Mulhouse - France

December 6th : les TransMusicales à Rennes

Interview

Interview: Mau From Nowhere Reinvents Himself

The Kenyan artist goes soul-searching with his new MFN EP.

Movement is the crux of mau from nowhere's music—the hip-hop and afropop undertones that dominate his work present a well-traveled artist.

Born in Kenya, Mau spent his life oscillating between the East African nation and England, followed by a short stint spent furthering his studies in New York. In a full-circle moment, mau uprooted his life in the big apple amidst the madness pandemic and made the move to Nairobi.

Listening to the MFN EP feels like diving head first into a pool of Mau's consciousness. He once spoke about the conflict between telling his fans to share their grief while withholding his own, but his latest offering MFN is far from stoic. The project marks his evolution from Kamau Wainana, the soft spoken kid with loud ambitions to mau from nowhere, a trailblazer defining music within 'Nu Nairobi.' As he gets less attached to being defined by a certain space, it's entrancing to watch him find comfort in his craft instead.

In this interview below, we demystify the man behind the music by discussing love, growth, disappointment and the recurrent themes of familial and romantic relationships.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

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