As we inch closer to SSFB 2018, we get up close and personal with Maryama, Romain and Dauwd, the trio responsible for the infamous African Acid Is The Future parties in Berlin. Enjoy this interview and a special mix they put together for the 17th entry of our mix series.
Hello Mary, Romain and Dauwd, how are you?
M: You mean in life or just right now (smiling)?
D: I’m ok.
First of all, Mary and Romain, we’re really curious as to how you got your stage names, Maryisonacid and Wolfonacid?
M: It’s a secret.
R: We share the same secret.
D: I have no idea who they are.
Can you each share something about your background and how it may have shaped the music you play?
R: I come from the classical conservatory of piano, and later played in punk bands as a guitarist. I can find something interesting and inspiring in any genre of music. We attract a crowd that expects the unexpected. Versatility is a virtue on the dance floor, it mediates bringing people together.
M: I grew up in a very mixed musical environment. My father is Congolese and raised me up on traditional Congolese rumba or soukouss, My first parties, where my father, uncle, cousins etc. were present, were for me the best parties of my life. Thinking back, I guess that was what put the African-Acid-is-the-Future seed in my brain. My father was also fond of Ethio jazz, Latin music and French artists such as Leo Ferre, Serge Gainsbourg, Brigitte Fontaine. I guess he’s had a huge influence on me and I thank him for that. My mother was more punk and dub and I also thank her for that.
D: My musical background was always very mixed. I grew up in a tiny village in the mountains of Wales with little to no influence from my environment other than my mother singing Opera and my father’s cassettes in the car. I socially followed a lot of grunge and metal in my early teens which was quickly replaced by electronic sounds. I think I got my first set of turntables around ’98. John Peel was a huge guidance for me at that time. Making music at home with computers came very early too, and this carried me all the way into my twenties. I think through the use of sampling, my knowledge and curiosity for sounds from around the world started to grow. I can say for sure that African Acid is the Future has played a huge role in my learning and appreciation for this too.
We heard the African Acid Is The Future parties began at a bar called Herz. Is it still a temple for post-punk and new-wave music?
M: Unfortunately, it’s now a chicken fast food joint. It was definitely our home and that of our friends, and one of the last bars for me where you could really drink, dance, smoke, draw like VaVa DuDu from La Chatte, talk and mingle with a lot of different characters. It had a very lovely little dance floor you could see from the bar; it’s where everything actually started. It had this very authentic cinematic look of places that made up Berlin’s “underground”. Such places tend to be vanishing more and more these days.
So, what’s a night at African Acid Is The Future like?
R: Once, we had a full crowd dancing very hard and there was a power cut. After a few minutes of silence and darkness you could feel panic in the crowd. Fortunately the catastrophe was avoided by my friend running back behind the booth to play his trumpet. The crowd turned from being fearful to ecstatic and thought the lights were out on purpose, which made me realize that AAITF for me is about music and mind tricks.
D: I remember when Ogoya Nengo & The Dodo Women’s Group came to play for us. I barbecued chicken for them outside the venue while they warmed their drums on the fire ready to perform. Nick Williams from Meda Fury was playing too and we all ate together. Our guests began to join in and eat as the party was starting. This is a feeling we’ve always tried to share – one of inclusiveness for our guests and artists.
M: It’s hard to describe a night I think; the analog pictures from Camille Bokhobza provides a beautiful and accurate archive of the history of our parties. For me one of the first highlights was when La Chatte played live for the first time at the party in Loftus Hall. They’re a post-punk band and to have them perform in the middle of the night after our set with Wolfonacid was a pure statement of what the night is about: from Afro to techno and everything in between. That very moment, it was punk and that’s how it’s like at African Acid Is The Future – mixed eclectic and schizophrenic.
Do you think the scene in Berlin changed a lot in the last couple of years?
M: I think it did, but nightlife is always in motion I’d say. To have a night like ours that attracts many people probably means there is room for more diverse musical propositions to a larger audience than before. Berlin is a city that brings people together around techno a lot, so it’s interesting to see that other formats can actually have their space in it too.
R: I agree with Maryama. I just want to say hi to my mum.
D: Hi, to all the Mums in the world.
Any acts you are looking forward to see at the festival?
R: Mostly all of them.
M: For me it’s Filles de Illighadad, as they will be our guest too actually, just the week after we come for SSFB. Letta Mbulu definitely, and Konono No.1 for the big AMBIANCE but I am open to discovery.
D: I don’t have favorites; I’m just excited to be there.
Thanks Mary, Romain and Dauwd!
African Acid Is The Future will be performing at SSFB Weekender on Sunday June 24. Tickets are available here.