Premiere: Kiwi Diasporic Collective Weird Together 'Karima's Story'

Weird Together New Zealand band with "Karima's Story."

Allow us to introduce the diasporic sounds of a part of the world not often discussed on Okayafrica. Weird Together began as the studio project of New Zealanders Dick Johnson and Nick Dwyer (whose collab with Wanlov for the kiwi tunes show Making Tracks was previously featured on OKA). Production from the DJ duo officially kicked off as a full band when the pair began recording at Auckland's Red Bull Studio with a cast of NZ-transplants, including Karima Madut (Sudan), Mavs Adegbite (Nigeria), and Benedict Tagutanazvo (Zimbabwe),

"Karima's Story" is an infectious house-influenced groove that suggests the project deserves overseas listens. Sudanese/Kenyan-born/NZ-based Karima Madut adds both a namesake and in-your-soul vocals to the track. Below, the Weird Together songstress discusses the story (her own, that is) behind the dancefloor banger.

"So Karima's story, I guess melody and lyric wise, came from the ideas [Nick was] throwing at me to freestyle to or be influenced by. I was blank in the booth until [Nick] told me to create something out of emotion and tell some type of story. With these two things in combination I couldn't help but think about my father whose life and supposed death was always a mystery and untold to me. I just imagined him as a spirit or his presence in the room with me and sang of what I would say if I were to connect with him and so the lyrics were a question of "where did you go? dead or alive?"...My thoughts and emotions had always been disconnected from him up, never thinking about the absence but I found myself singing at the end of these phrases 'I want you' repeatedly, to my surprise! So I guess through the process there was the sad revelation of the loss I still feel and the hope I still hold on to."

We anticipate more to come from the kiwi collective. In the meantime grab yourself a copy of "Karima's Story" above and check out the accompanying DIY vid below pieced together from Borneo's beautiful Rainforest World Music Fest.


6 Samples From 'Éthiopiques' in Hip-Hop

A brief history of Ethio-jazz cultural exchange featuring songs by Nas & Damian Marley, K'naan, Madlib and more.

This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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