Fresh Kicks 180: Asna
Ivorian DJ, producer and visual artist Asna records a two-hour mix heart-racing percussion and global club rhythms for the Fresh Kicks series, and speaks to Kamila Rymajdo about collaboration and her limitless creative vision
For DJ/producer and visual artist Asna, music might not have been her first career, but when she was growing up, it was always playing at home. “My first memories come from the tape player in my father’s car,” she recalls from her home in Abidjan, “he’s always been a great music lover, always on the lookout for the latest releases.” Asna remembers a lot of Senegalese music. “Artists like Youssou N’dour, Thione Seck and Baaba Maal, but also some reggae and a lot of British rock like Dire Straits, Pink Floyd, The Police,” she says, adding that her mother often hosted at home, “and there was always a moment when everyone danced.”
Asna explains that her parents always pushed her to study — her father telling her that knowledge would make her independent. Taking heed of his advice, she left the Ivory Coast in 2008, moving to France to study for a Masters degree in advertising and marketing. After completing her degree, Asna came back to Abidjan to start her career, but by 2010, she felt forced to leave because of the political crisis [which led to the Second Ivorian Civil War] and headed to Morocco to take up a new passion: graphic design. “Morocco was the great beginning for me,” she says. “I met an incredible artistic scene there and I also discovered Moroccan music, which was a decisive element in what I do today.”
Indeed, it was in Morocco that Asna met the producer Guedra Guedra, whose approach to music-making draws on the sounds of North Africa, within the parameters of contemporary dance music. This connected with Asna and the two went on to play a Boiler Room together in 2019. It was the DJ Black Charles, however, from the La Sunday Abidjan collective, who gave Asna the confidence to pursue music professionally. “Black Charles is like a mentor to me,” Asna says, describing the period of her life after Morocco, when she was back in Abidjan for the second time in 2015. “He was the first to believe in me and push me to surpass myself, and it’s from this point that I learned a lot, finding my own style, which is naturally very steeped in my African origins of Ivory Coast, Senegal and Mauritania,” she says.
Asna dropped her first release ‘Atalaku’ in July 2021, blending deep house with elements of Congolese rumba and Ghanaian highlife. Then in February 2022, she released ‘Abissa’, teaming up with Paris-based producer anyoneID to take her various influences even further. “I discovered anyoneID’s music by chance on the Internet,” Asna recalls. “I immediately had a shock, hearing music which was not defined by a particular genre but was without limits. In his music you can hear influences of electro, techno, baile funk, house — I thought it was amazing.”
A traditional Abissa ceremony — a celebration of the Nzema people through music and dance — provided further validation that Asna was on the right path, and also inspired the video for the track, which is a pacy, colour-popping affair that’s difficult not to feel energised by.
“The Abissa ceremony just made more evident the vision I had for my music,” Asna says, explaining that she hears and ‘sees’ sounds in a particular way: “When I hear percussion for example, I immediately hear it with complementary sounds, the melody that it could blend with and above all, I see it visually; sounds come to me like a person with a story, a colour, emotions.”
Looking to the future, Asna says she’d like to shed more light on the new Ivorian alternative and club scene, which she’s already doing with a radio show, Bôrô d’Enjaillement, hosted on Ghanaian station Oroko Radio — but she plans to do more. “The Ivorian creative scene is very dynamic thanks to economic growth of the Ivory Coast,” she says. “It’s pushing more and more young people to return to the country, creating exciting opportunities and a changing culture, which in turn creates greater openness to electronic music.”
Because of this, and how her approach to music has been honed by all her travels and life experiences, she says she sees her future in music as a “limitless vision”. While that might seem like vague terminology to the outsider, it’s easy to believe Asna knows exactly what that will look like.
Listen to Asna's Fresh Kicks mix below.
Doubt ‘HD Tool’
Asna x anyoneID ‘Abissa’
DJ Snake ‘Disco Maghreb’
PheliMuncasi ‘Dlala Ngesinqa’
Griffit Vigo ‘Run’
Mbizo X Asna ‘Atalaku’ (remix)
Ghetto Kumbe ‘Pide Mas (Montoya Remix)’
DJ Plead ‘Mercy’
EL PLVYBXY ‘Kuruyuki’
Shamos ‘Untitled (Stomp & Words Mix) Feat. Tashia B’
Rae Sremmurd ‘Swang Edit’
Drake ‘Trophies (D-Tale & DYNE Baile Remix)’
Owiny Sigoma Band ‘Luo Land’
DJ Pombero ‘x_xXSOUND_9989799Xx_x’
Leonce ‘Sex Siren’
Didi B ‘Arafat’
Innoss-'B ‘Naomi Campbell’
Serge Beynaud ‘C-'est dosé’
Gafacci X Bablee (Asna remix )