Nguzunguzu | Interview
[Asma + Daniel aka Nguzunguzu - photo by EdG]
Last April, Rader and I, sam.i.am, had the opportunity to conduct a post-gig chat with the dance-floor heating duo, Asma and Daniel, better known as Nguzunguzu. These guys are busier then ever these days, jumping from working with New York’s Fade to Mind and UK’s Night Slugs imprint, to designer behemoth’s Kenzo and SSENSE, and of course the Red Bull Music Academy. Needless to say, its a pleasure to have had the opportunity to discuss their music, brand, and developing history outside of Montreal’s Blue Dog Motel. We blew the dust off of this one for your educational pleasure -
LL: Alright, let’s start with your beginnings. Daniel, I read that your Puerto Rican father used to sing lullabies to you, or was it folk songs, whatever. And your mother, Asma, was a DJ at a candy shop. Can you guys elaborate on those respective introductions?
Daniel: My dad’s actually from the Dominican though.
LL: Dominican? I read wrong.
Daniel: Yeah, my mom’s Puerto Rican. He lived in Puerto Rico for a while but yeah, he sings. They sang. They’d get drunk and sing.
Asma: Um, I dunno. My parents just love music, they always played it. I mean, they used to play a lot of Hindu songs and I hated it when I was young. Me and my brothers and sisters hated it but, um, now I really appreciate it. Opened my mind and shit.
LL: Hell yeah.
LL: And how can we hear those influences now- like, the Puerto Rican, the Hindi, in your songs. Is it there? Or am I looking too hard.
Daniel: I mean…
Asma: Indirectly. I don’t think that, like, we’re so like, ‘Oh, I’m gonna sample Bollywood,’ or something that’s so, like, trite, like, I guess.
Daniel: There’s some kinda rhythms that are like that but..
Daniel: I dunno if that’s at the forefront, but some rhythms are there, definitely.
[WILDNESS - Asma Maroof, Wu Tsang, Daniel Pineda, and Ashland Mines (Total Freedom)]
LL: I understand that the majority of your connections came from the WILDNESS parties at the Silver Platter- there’s a long list of names. But was that “world club,” quote on quote, that “tropical disco shit”- was that a prominent genre at those parties? Or were you unique to that and is that why those connections came about?
Asma: I feel like people just didn’t know what to call it so they just said “tropical,” which I still don’t technically understand. I was like ‘Oh, does that mean like brown people making music is tropical or something?’ or some shit like that. I dunno how I feel.
Daniel: Yeah it was a Latin club- we played all kinds of music.
LL: How did you guys get into the project with Kenzo that you just released a couple weeks ago?
Daniel: Yeah, that was like… we had a lot of people from Opening Ceremony that would come, like Humberto and Carol, that design Kenzo now and I guess they used to come to our party and then people that worked there used to come and then, I mean, just out of the blue they hit us up like, ‘Oh, in two weeks we’re doing this fashion show. Can you make a 15-minute original mix?’
LL: Are you looking forward to doing any more fashion in the future?
Asma: Hell yeah, man.
LL: What can we anticipate in 2012? In terms of collaboration from you guys, or any other creative venture?
Daniel: We’re gonna do another EP on Fade To Mind and hopefully a bunch of other stuff, we don’t really know what.
LL: When does that start?
Asma: We’re going to Europe in April.
LL: Cool. Festival Circuit?
Asma: We’re doing some festivals.
LL: Which ones are you doing?
Asma: We’re going to Amsterdam – I don’t remember the names of anything but we’re playing this art festival in Italy. Then a boat in Serbia and some other cool shit. That should be fun. We’re excited.
LL: Final question: do you guys feel the spirit of Nguzunguzu guiding you on this adventure of yours- or is it just a cool fucking name?
Asma: [Laughter] I love that. That was cute. Oh my god, I didn’t even think about that. Like, that’s what’s guiding us. That’s so cute.
LL: From your turntable canoe.
Asma: That’s so beautiful. I’ll just say yes to that question. All of that.
Daniel: You know, man, we’ve confronted some obstacles.
LL: Some border control.
Daniel: But somehow we make it through so something has helped guide us.
LL: Thanks for your time.
sam.i.am, rader, alh