Mr Raoul K's interview with The Moroders

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Mr Raoul K's interview with The Moroders

Post by Baobab » Thu Mar 18, 2010 1:49 pm

In preparation of his gig at Cosmic Dancer in Dresden The Moroders asked him some questions about his music, his collaboration with African musicians and the impact of cultural background on Afro-House.

Link: ... r-raoul-k/

Where are you from?
I hail from the Ivory Coast.

Why did you leave Ivory Coast for Germany in 1992?
For political reasons. Plus, I had no prospects there whatsoever.

How did you get into electronic music in Germany?
When I met my girlfriend and mother of my son Thierry 12 years ago she invited me to the Love Parade in Berlin. That was on July 14th 1997 and it blew me away. From this day on I wanted to be a DJ. From my first salary as a carpenter I instantly bought two Technics-turntables and a mixer and started to teach myself mixing records. At that time I was living in Hamburg where I met Ollie from Underground Solution which was the most popular record shop in the north back then. Soon, I found out what kind of music I liked as a DJ.

You began producing in Bordeaux. Did you already have any musical education back then or was it all self-taught?
In Bordeaux I learned all the basics. How to record vocals, guitar, drums etc. in a proper studio. What a bass drum, a snare, Hi-Hat is. What you need in your home studio. I didn’t really have a musical education. It’s all, as you said, self-taught. Learning by doing.

You are working together a lot with musicians from Africa. How does that work out? Do you meet up at studios and do you also play for audiences?
All those musicians from Africa I work with still live there. Once a year I travel to Africa to record with them. When I’m there I’m actually collecting ideas. Usually, I sing to them what I would like them to play. Then, back in Germany, I work with those recordings in my home studio. But sometimes we also work over the phone. I send a demo via email and sing it to them again over the phone. Then they record the tracks and send them back. I did a remix for Kunyuki from Japan which will be out on Mule Musiq in April which was done this way.
I have to add that neither me nor my musicians in Africa can read or write notes. That’s why I have to present all my ideas by singing to them which I really enjoy! I would love to play with them on festivals in Europe, Asia and the USA but those are dreams of the future. Of course, we have to find someone who will finance a project like this.

There are a lot of references in your music to Senegal – your label Baobab (like the band of the same name), the track ‘Wind of Gorée’ (a former island of slaves). Plus, the track ‘Abuja’ (named after the capital of Nigeria) and the track ‘Sun of Gao’ (a city in Mali). Apparently, you’re not focused on Ivory Coast when it comes to collaborating. Do you feel a connection to Pan-Africanism? Or do you especially feel connected to the countries of western Africa?
„Baobab“ represents strength, like the tree of the same name. It’s true, my musicians hail from different African countries (Senegal, Mali, Guinea, Nigeria, Ivory Coast), hence all those track titles. When I’m producing I try to put myself in a certain position, like in a state of trance. When I worked at ‘Wind of Gorée’ I felt connected to the slaves who were shipped from this island to all over the world.
The music from Ivory Coast is different, more Pop-orientated. Mali, Guinea, Senegal and Nigeria have more Jazz, Soul and Blues. That’s where artists I admire like Ali Farka Touré (King of the Desert-Blues), Toumani Diabeté (King of the Cora), Fela Kuti (King of Afro-Beat) come from. I try to combine their style of music with my knowledge of electronic music. That’s how my music is created. You can hear all those influences on my album ‘Mande’ (which is due on Still Music in summer).

You use a lot of self-recorded samples of traditional african instruments, for example the Cora which is a kind of harp or the Sabar drum. Do you have a favourite instrument? Can you play some yourself?
That’s true, my music bases a lot on those instruments. The Sabar drum is from Senegal and consists of four drums arranged side by side. It’s played by hand and with a wooden stick and you can hear it in almost all of my tracks. I worked with Leye M Baye, one of the best drummers in Africa, and footage of those sessions will be included on the DVD accompanying my album ‘Mande’. On the track ‚Le Cercle Peul’ I used the Cora, a kind of guitar with 17 strings, on the tracks ‘Sun of Gao’ and ‘Emotion du Peul’ I used the Ngoni which only has 3 strings. I can fairly play the Balafon (the african xylophon) which I did for ‘Wind of Goree’. Fortunately, nowadays you can record everything and rearrange it later at the computer. I keep on learning and try to get better, of course. I have to mention the Talking Drum which is from Senegal and Nigeria. But I like all of them. However, I have to admit that I use the Belafon quite often as it’s easy to play for me.

Have you played your tracks to people from home and how was the feedback? Does House and Techno exist in western Africa?
At home people don’t understand this kind of music yet. That’s no surprise because there are no House and Techno parties at all. Young people in Ivory Coast mostly listen to Coupé Decalé and Zouglou. But everyone there likes my track ‘Himalaya’. I have some fans in South Africa. One day I would like to open up club for Techno and House music there but before I have to find someone who would finance it. So, dreams of the future again.

What do think about the renaissance of Afro in Europe and the USA? Do you appreciate the work of labels like Strut, Soul Jazz, Honest Jon’s or Soundway? And what is your opinion regarding the countless House tracks with African samples nowadays?
Well, that’s a difficult topic for me cause I don’t think it’s Afro just because someone uses an African vocal. When I started to release music many people were surprised cause it was something new. That’s what I’m aiming for. Music based on African instruments but with an electronic feel to it so people have something to connect to.
You can hear that Culoe De Song is from South Africa. Joe Clausell is Afro even though he’s not from Africa. But he works with a lot of African musicians and you can sense that in his music. Also Henrik Schwarz released a great Afro track on Innervissions but again it only came out this way because he worked with African musicians. You can’t do a certain kind of music without having experienced the culture in which the music is rooted in. That’s why some people don’t understand the music I’m doing. For example Minimal, everyone understands it cause it’s not rooted in any culture.

Besides your African roots, what inspires you when making music?
As I mentioned, when I produce I try to put myself in a certain state of mind. I draw a lot of strength and inspiration from interviews with good musicians (I like the Slices-DVDs and the RBMA-lectures). After watching a good interview I often feel the urge to go to the studio. Also, just listening to music inspires me. Before I sit down in front of the computer I listen to my favourite records for 30 to 60 minutes. Not to copy from them, just to put myself in the right mood.

At the moment you’re living in Lübeck, a city in northern Germany. Is there a scene for electronic music and artists you know with whom you collaborate?
Unfortunately not! I can’t play the music I love there cause that would clear the dancefloor. That’s a shame cause I feel that there’s a potential audience but they don’t go to the clubs cause the clubs are all too commercial.
So far, I have been working on my own even though I would like to collaborate more in the future. Currently I’m working on a project going on with Wareika from Hamburg which is close by.

What can we expect from you in the future? Are there any plans to put together a live set? Will there be releases by other artists than you on your label?
I have had requests for a live set but that’s out of question at the moment as I’m in the middle of producing an album for a Japanese label. In addition, I’m working on some new 12″s for my labels Baobab Music and Baoba Secret plus the second one for Fatsouls Records from San Francisco. In terms of DJing I enjoy beeing able to play other people’s music and I love playing vinyl, no CDs, no MP3s. I think I’ll wait with the live set consisting only of my own material until I have some more fans.
Regarding my labels I could of course release other people’s music but then it has to fit. Not only musically but also mentality-wise because we’re not earning any money with the label. It’s a passion and I don’t want to end up arguing about money.

Which team do you keep your fingers crossed for during the World Cup?
I hope any African team will suceed. First and foremost my heart beats for ‘The Elefants’ of course. Do you know who I mean?


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