Pan-African music company Africori is bringing it's A'frequency music event series to London with headline acts Efya and Silvastone. It has also just signed a distribution deal with Nigeria's leading label, Chocolate City. Russell Southwood spoke to Africori's Head of Operations Adam Tiran about what it's set out to do.
The A'frequency event started in Johannesburg in May 2016:"The idea was to bring Pan-African (music) styles to South Africa. We're trying to inspire collaboration and introduce South Africa to these sounds." The headliners were Kenya's Sauti Sol a Congolese artist based in South Africa called Tresor plus a number of South African acts. The second of the two events bought M.I from Nigeria's Chocolate City label to Johannesburg in July.
Both events were put on at the Carfax in Newtown. Tickets for the first sold at R100 and attracted 700 people and for the second event they sold at R150 and attracted 400 people:"A'frequency events are a way to promote opportunities for artists, introducing them to media agencies and brands who might sponsor them."
So why is Africori bringing the event to London?:"Because there's a lot happening here (in terms of African music). Through chance encounters we've met people on the scene here and found that UK artists are keen to see if they can sell in Africa. And again we want to inspire collaboration. Afrobeats was in danger of becoming stale. Now you find it all over the place, taking in different influences."
Headliners on the bill include Ghanaian R&B-soul goddess, Efya. She arrives to A'friquency off the back of her hugely anticipated debut album Janesis which eloquently joined the dots between afrobeats, neo-soul and trap and featured heavy hitters Sarkodie, Ice Prince and Stonebwoy. Her recent slick collaborations with fellow Ghanaians Mr. Eazi and E.L. have made waves right across the afrobeats world and aided the sound's crossover into the international mainstream.
Joining Efya on the night is DJ, producer and vocalist extraordinaire Silvastone who will be delivering an exclusive live performance alongside his five piece band. The BBC Radio 1Xtra and MOBO approved virtuoso represents a sound that takes unique influence from Ghana, Sierra Leone and South London and has put together polished and funky productions alongside the likes of D'Banj, Davido and Chaka Demus. Expect sophisticated afrobeats and outernational sounds that feel as much at home in the club as they do in the car, and from an artist that was tipped as "Best African Act" by three different UK awards in 2015.
Rounding off the live acts is one of London's most hotly tipped collectives, New Age Muzik. Consisting of vocalists Kamo and Prince and producers Tobi Notch and Dami Bones, these North London lads by way of Nigeria were recently picked up by MTV and Fact Magazine as a key component of the Afro-infused, R&B scene:"They're on the point of breaking. It's Afrobeats that is very London, kind of R&B with Afro swing."
Warming the decks on the night will be two of the UK's finest Afro-champions in the shape of DJ Edu and DJ Neptizzle. Edu is one of afrobeats' original torch-bearers and through his world famous Destination Africa show on BBC Radio 1Xtra, he's hosted just about every major act you can think of, establishing him as the undisputed #Afroboss. Through his Ultimate Afrobeats brand and furious mixing style, DJ Neptizzle has carved his name onto the UK and West African club circuit in recent years, and has just this month launched the flagship afrobeats show on Rinse FM. Neptizzle is Vietnamese-British and once said:"I eat Jolloff rice with chopsticks."
Africori has also just signed a worldwide digital distribution deal with Chocolate City Music & Entertainment Company The new deal will see the music released under the label by such artists as MI Abaga, Koker and a number of others to be distributed via the network established by Africori. Founded in 2005, Chocolate City is one of the most successful record labels in Africa and has taken Nigerian hip hop in West Africa and around the globe. The label has released music from acclaimed recording artists including M.I., Femi Kuti, Ice Prince, Jesse Jagz, DJ Lambo, DJ Calse, Victoria Kimani, Dice Alles, Koker & Pryse to name a few.
Tiran says that its digital streams business across the whole world "rose 20% in the last 4 weeks." He identified the importance of getting artists on playlists on the key global digital music platforms (including Spotify and Deezer) as one reason for the upturn.
The London A'frequency event takes place Friday September 9th 2016
Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Rd, London, E1 6LA Advance tickets on:
Rich Mix: http://smarturl.it/AfriquencyEfya Eventbrite: http://smarturl.it/AfriquencyEfyaEB