Emerging from the cosmic experimentations of krautrock, kinetic energy and the “I don’t care” attitude that is punk, Germany’s underground landscape in the late 70s was increasingly filling itself with acts that put out a range of highly avant-garde, quirky and autonomous sounds. A big factor in all of this was the DIY mentality and a wave of post-modernism that had infiltrated media culture at the time. This freshly built playground now offered up the possibility that everybody could make (cool) music; the stranger the sounds, the more far-fetched the ideas and themes, the better.
Andrei Rusu and Florentin Tudor have known each other since they were in 10th grade. They initiated their Khidja project at their German high school when little else was around. The genre-fluid Romanian artists have shared a very similar unrestrained musical upbringing ever since, of which the traces still resonate into their music today. Influenced by jazz, funk, and African music, Khidja productions sound like fearless experimental excursions from these cornerstone foundations.
Their mysterious name, which is apparently pronounced “Khadeeja”, is inspired by the like-named song from the ’68 multi-genre band Mandrill. Check out 2:45 for the correct pronunciation (you’re welcome).
Intrigued by their roots and their particular music style, I decided to have a quick chat with the boys from Khidja in anticipation of their very special intercontinental gig. The duo currently reside in different countries; when I got to speak with them Florentin was enjoying some good ol’ rain in London while Andrei and his cat, who had recently moved to Berlin, were dying from the heat. The contrast was laughable. After defeating some technical issues, through the power of the internet, we got to have a lighthearted conversation about cultural influences, long distance relationships, and their first-ever visit to the motherland – Africa.
Can you tell us something about how it all started for you?
Well, we’ve known each other since we were in 10th grade. We grew up listening to the same music and we’d go looking for new records together. When we started, there wasn’t really a DJ culture back home. We’ve definitely been influenced by artists who came before us. Now there is a small growing scene in Bucharest, where we come from, and it has become a lot easier for beginning artists.
Do you, in any way, feel responsible for contributing to this growing scene?
We have been DJs for a lifetime. We may not be living there [Romania] anymore, but we have lived there our entire lives, contributing to the scene as DJs and producers, playing at the few parties there were and initiating weekly nights. Right now, we also have a record label called P-Balans, which is a joint venture with Ion from Future Nuggets, Camil aka The Holy Fix, and Borusiade. This is starting to come together nicely. We try to give the Romanians a platform for their music, even from a distance.
How has living apart influenced the way you create your music?
Strangely enough, I think we may have become more productive compared to when we lived together in Romania. Now, when we’re in our own homes, we share a lot of music with each other. WeTransfer has played a huge role in that. And when we do find the time to visit, we jam as much as we can. Like, we can jam for hours upon hours. We always try to impress each other, which really seems to work for us. It never gets boring this way.
On your records, a lot of cultural influences are represented. Sounds from all over the world are woven into your tracks, most of all Middle Eastern, Latin, and African sounds. Where does this fascination, or should I say, attraction come from?
Romanian culture is really a melting pot. I mean, we’ve been under the Ottoman reign for 400 years and that period has obviously had a great impact on the local culture, and most of all, the music. Same goes for the Balkan and their influence on our culture. We grew up listening to all kinds of music. And there is sort of an urge to keep exploring different kinds of music as well. We’re always looking for new, interesting sounds to add to our collection and draw inspiration from.
On August 25 you will be playing not one but two gigs at Atlas Electronic 2017, one of which will be at the Red Light Radio stage hosted by Strange Sounds From Beyond. Will this gig be different from other places or festivals you’ve played?
It will be our first time in Marrakech. We have played in the Middle East quite a few times but never in Africa, let alone Morocco. We don’t really have an idea of what to expect from it but we’re really looking forward to meeting all the people!
Exciting! So I guess it’ll be an extra special one… Is there anything you’d like to ask me?
Yes… One thing… Will you be there as well?
For sure. I will definitely see you there! Thank you so much for the chat and I’ll see you in Marrakech.