in october last year, i posted some music from a genre emerging out of angola known as kuduro – a fusion of local african sounds with ragga, techno, hip hop and caribbean influences. shortly thereafter, i interviewed french producer frederic galliano for fbi radio, discussing the first kuduro album to be released outside of angola – entitled ‘frederic galliano presents kuduro sound system’. galliano wrote the album with a local dj, kito da machina, and a group of “kudoristas” (anagolan mcs) – dog murras, pinta tirru, gata agressiva, zoca zoca, pai diesel and the original creator of kuduro, tony amado.
you can listen to the podcast of the interview above (featuring some short excerpts from the album), but if you’re too ‘time poor’ to check the podcast in its entirety, here’s a transcript. read it with a strong french accent.
fat planet: to the uninitiated, can you give us a brief background to kuduro?
frederic galliano: kuduoro is music typically from angola, created by tony amado ten years ago. when amado created kuduro, he was thinking about dance music at that time such as crystal waters and reel to reel. he mixed the kick of that kind of house music with programming inspired by traditional carnival music from angola. it was a strange idea and the result is of course this really fast mixture between techno and zouk. now kuduro is completely national, listened to by people from cape verde, mozambique – and also from portugal too. i’m now trying to bring this music to the world because i believe it is the first original electronic music from africa – and it really is a miracle.
how does this kind of electronic music sit with the congotronics series that was released by crammed discs last year?
congrotronics is not electronic music, it’s acoustic music with electronic amplification – but the realisation is not electronic. kuduro is electronic – the dj makes the music, just like i do. they have a computer, and that’s all. computer, vocals – that’s all. kuduro is like techno, it’s like hip hop, you know? that’s the real difference.
and what about the lyrical content?
it’s like hip hop in that it’s a social movement, originally created by poor people – so the lyrics contain critiques about society, critiques about politics – they explain the social situation of poor people. politicians don’t really like this music, because it it critical of them, but in fact it’s an obligation in angola to know about kuduro – because this is the only contemporary music that genuinely represents angolan people.
how did you first come in contact with kuduro?
it was two years ago when i was touring in angola with my project, the african divas. when i first heard kuduro, i felt it was completely new, completely fresh, yet typically african. and at the same time, the dj was working just like me. it was amazing.
and then how did the ‘kuduro sound system’ album come about?
i went back to angola and recorded the album in angola in two weeks. i worked with a dj called kito da machina and some of the best kudoristas around.
were you the first producer from outside angola to work with local kudoristas?
dog murras, he’s the big star of kuduro, he introduced me at a live show recently and said “galliano is the first white guy to do kuduro”. this is true, because i’m the only white guy that’s travelled in angola and work with the kudoristas. you know you have some kuduro in portugal, but the angolan people say this is “kuduro de blanco”, “kuduro of the white people” because it is really cheap. some people think kuduro is really easy to do, but it’s not – it’s really complex music. the programming is based on traditional music from angola and the creation is hard, because it is so strict. that’s why i’ve travelled so many times to angola, to learn exactly how to do it. now, i’m not the best kuduro programmer, but today some kudoristas say “galliano can do it”, because my feeling is like their feeling. i will be there again in january to learn to new propositions, new feelings.
do you think it’ll be easy for kuduro to break out and translate across the world?
i’m sure it’ll be successful all over the world, because this music is completely new and completely fresh – and i haven’t heard new music like that for over ten years. also, you can mix this with house, with techno, with drum and bass – that’s what is so crazy about kuduro, its a mix between dance, ragga, techno, zouk, traditional african music and brazilian. it’s strong, it’s funny and it’s easy to listen to.
the artists and writers who are now championing kuduro are the ones who championed funk carioca not that long ago. do you see any relationship between the two genres?
there is no formal similarity between funk cariaca and kuduro. funk cariaca, baile funk, is a sort of hip hop, the beats are not original. the originality of baile funk is the social situation behind it, but the beats are really easy to produce. it’s an old school style with a west coast sound. kuduro is completely different. the feeling is the same because of the portuguese language, but the realisation is totally different. it’s easy to produce a beat of baile funk, but kuduro? no, no – it’s not easy, it’s really complex.