Ethiopiyawi Electronic defies the colonialist idea that the cultural (and monetary) value of African art increases only when Westerners pay attention to it. “I worry about appropriation and gentrification because the West.. [has had] a very abusive relationship with my continent,” Mulu says. “I also worry about this attention we are getting [from the West], like African people worry about their raw materials and lands. I think the only way for Africans to be safe here is for people from my continent to take ownership of their cultural evolution.
As Western labels, DJs and producers continue to look to Africa as a source for “obscure” records to be “discovered”, often with little or no financial remuneration for the original artists, the spectre of colonialism feels close and sinister.
“People aren't appropriating just because they love something,” Mulu says. “They are appropriating because they think this is the next big thing. My continent is the future and everyone knows it. This is their gold rush, and I am horrified by it.
Mulu has become involved in a pan-African music platform, Crudo Volta. Run by Rome-based collective Python Syndicate, which has released documentaries on African electronic genres like gqom (in Durban) and afrobass (in Accra), they recently unveiled a new miniseries, Taxi Waves, which showcases a new wave of artists from Lagos, Maputo, and Addis Ababa.
In the first week of July last year, Anastasia Kristensen arrived in the Serbian city of Novi Sad for EXIT Festival. The gig was to mark the halfway point in a year of heavy touring, which would eventually top out at over 80 shows in 34 countries; meanwhile, her first full solo release was finally in the works. Then, as she prepared for her opening night set in the enormous mts Dance Arena, she got a phone call with the news that her father had died. A few days had passed already, and the police had been at his apartment in Moscow.
“When I go to Moscow I feel very different. There is no doubt it’s a homophobic society. Even at the parties I have to remind them that there should be space for everybody. It’s my duty, as someone who’s resident at a queer party to prevent and educate”
Based in Copenhagen, where her flat is a handy seven minutes from the airport, Kristensen is frequently described as a Danish DJ, but in fact, she only acquired a Danish passport in 2017. As she tells it, her life has been marked by her experience of dislocation and immigration. “That has a lot to answer for — why I play this music as I do, why things happen for me,” she offers. “I probably have a different understanding of values, because coming from Russia to Denmark was overwhelming.”
Anastasia Kristensen will release her debut solo EP, ‘Ascetic’, via Arcola on 1st March.
The Moscow-born, Copenhagen-based DJ extraordinaire follows up tracks and remixes on labels like Houndstooth with her first release of entirely original material. Featuring four-tracks of immersive dub techno, formidable breaks and dancefloor demolishers, it’s been more than worth the wait.