Niniola is one of the most celebrated women to come out of Nigeria’s dance2

Author : Irwandoang555
Publish Date : 2021-04-23 14:12:36
Niniola is one of the most celebrated women to come out of Nigeria’s dance2

When disco and house music started, the surrounding scene offered respite to Black and queer communities in places that would rather see them out of sight and mind. Today, new iterations of electronic music are opening new doors — this time for women of African descent, enabling them to create and explore sonic worlds rooted in marabi, orutu, kalindula and kwaito, towards undeniably potent sounds heirloomed within afrotech, singeli, amapiano and gqom. Ever more women are making their way behind the decks, in front of the mic and onto the stage in an exciting time for the continent. Not only are the following women blazing trails for the future of the Africa's dance music scenes, but they’re using their voices to change the greater narrative of electronic music as a very Western, very male territory. In this article, we reach out to a few women across amapiano, ambient, gqom, house, afrotech, tribal and beyond to share their thoughts on what promises to be an intriguing year for African dance music, while showing some love to the ones who continue to break boundaries, stereotypes and moulds.

Read this next: The beautiful chaos of Amapiano, South Africa's emerging house movement

DBN GOGO
“Men are boring. Women have a better work ethic. Men get away with doing the same thing all the time. We don’t have that luxury.”

Currently setting the pace as one of the only female producers in South Africa’s Amapiano scene and well known for her flawless presence in studio and on stage, DBN GOGO has made her name from performing at Afropunk to Tshwanefontein and ULTRA — and she’s itching to take her sound to the rest of our beautiful continent. Her debut album 'Thokoza Café', created in tandem with DJ and producer Dinho, features some heavy hitting basslines with carefully crafted tracks (one of which is the first ever Francophone amapiano track, 'French Kiss') with a spirited live set dubbed GlassOff that keeps everyone thoroughly entertained.

“Men just tend to give us the same thing over and over. And even when you go see them at a show, it's not something exciting... They all look the same; they're dressed the same, they're not doing anything new. You know, half the guys aren't even having fun while they're DJing. They're not even smiling! And it's just like... women have come into such a nice place in this industry to be able to not only show their talents, but express themselves as artists. We can go so much further than just DJing. Our whole aesthetic can play into it. We look more interesting. We sound more interesting. Our ideas are more interesting. I just think we have a lot more to give.”

ALBA NALO
One of a handful of femme producers in the region, Namibian artist Alba Nalo has been championing her sound for some years now, since taking DJing seriously after co-hosting a late-night mix show on UNAM radio in 2012. She went on to win a DJ competition hosted by 99FM and Amarula in 2014, and later won the first all female DJ battle hosted by Jokers in 2016. Together with DJ Maggz, she founded Afroberries — a platform that aims to empower women who aim to carve out their own place within the music industry, earning the duo a place on Red Bull’s list of Opinion Leaders & Brand Ambassadors for 2017 in their respective fields. Since then, she released three of her own singles, with another on the way. Additionally, she hosts an IGTV project that focuses on promoting Namibian music of all styles. DJing has allowed her to explore other avenues such as singing, emcee-ing and dancing, opening new ways for her to connect with any crowd she stands proudly before.

“My journey has been quite exciting but also such an enormous learning curve. Frankly, I had no idea that female DJing was uncommon here in Namibia, so some people would stand in front of me either in amazement, wondering whether I was actually mixing or playing a pre-recorded mix... it was a weird time! But all in all I’m pretty lucky that the industry was very accommodating to me during my come up and I’ll always be grateful for that. Over the years more women started feeling comfortable DJing, but evidently we still have a long way to go because the ratio of female DJs to male DJs is still extremely low.”

SIO
Despite South Africa’s lockdown, Siobhan King made major personal moves in 2020. In the literal sense she moved into a new home, and in the figurative sense, made the transition from being merely a featuring artist to an artist in her own right — and picked up DJing as well as expanding on her production skills and truly owning her creative might. In this post she talks about how her switching to production was met with resistance, and how her EP 'Features' was her way of expressing the frustration she came to feel with being undervalued within the house music scene. Having wrote a song detailing violence against women for one of South Africa’s national TV shows on SABC 2, It’s a Feminist Thing, Sio’s intention is clear; this is her time and she will do with it as she pleases, for the sake of her own bliss. With this she’s been able to cast her creative net wide, mesmerising audiences worldwide whether through a capella and poetry, or accompanied by acoustic guitar or syncopated synths.

“I’ve been having a lot of conversations with my peers and colleagues. They say you’re saturating the market and you’re a vocalist - a female one at that - so you need to cut off access to you etc., etc. But Corona hit and we could all die! That’s what I believe. We can’t be that precious about things. It’s like buying beautiful crockery and putting it on a shelf for a special occasion. What’s the point? You’re alive today.”

Get 'Features' here.

Read this next: The exploitation of Black women vocalists in house music

LIZWI
Known as the Zulu “Queen of Tribal House”, South African Nokuphiwa 'Lizwi' Mbatha has become a firm favourite in global dance music circles, ensuring that every production she graces really gleams. In an unforgettable moment during Black Coffee’s Cercle set in France, the crowd is visibly shaken by her vocal on 'Traveller', a track that to this day is earth-shatteringly entrancing. Recently representing on Nervous Records alongside Benjy and Levy M on 'Makukhanye' (with also got remix treatment from Ralf Gum), Lizwi is gearing up for a year of key releases that see the past, present and future converge around her goose-pimple inducing call for communion.

"I felt like a goddess that day. In that moment, I fully understood the purpose of the talent given by God and my ancestors. I fell more in love with my voice, my style and the power in it. It’s more of me getting it out there for people to know and understand what the feel of raw African music is, and I can say I'm happy to see that people are getting to know and love this genre. They don't have to understand the lyrics but the emotions resonate in tribal music. It’s proof that music really is a language in itself."

NINIOLA
Niniola is one of the most celebrated women to come out of Nigeria’s dance landscape. One of the first to try her hand at afro house, she has dominated across streams, charts and everything in between, garnering attention from the likes of Beyoncé, Missy Elliot and DJ Snake, particularly on 2017’s Sars-produced 'Maradona', a game changer for Naija beats to this day. On releases such as her 'Colours and Sounds' album from 2020 and this year's '6th Heaven' EP, Niniola leans on her tenacious spirit and African roots as a source for true power.

When disco and house music started, the surrounding scene offered respite to Black and queer communities in places that would rather see them out of sight and mind. Today, new iterations of electronic music are opening new doors — this time for women of African descent, enabling them to create and explore sonic worlds rooted in marabi, orutu, kalindula and kwaito, towards undeniably potent sounds heirloomed within afrotech, singeli, amapiano and gqom. Ever more women are making their way behind the decks, in front of the mic and onto the stage in an exciting time for the continent. Not only are the following women blazing trails for the future of the Africa's dance music scenes, but they’re using their voices to change the greater narrative of electronic music as a very Western, very male territory. In this article, we reach out to a few women across amapiano, ambient, gqom, house, afrotech, tribal and beyond to share their thoughts on what promises to be an intriguing year for African dance music, while showing some love to the ones who continue to break boundaries, stereotypes and moulds.

Read this next: The beautiful chaos of Amapiano, South Africa's emerging house movement

DBN GOGO
“Men are boring. Women have a better work ethic. Men get away with doing the same thing all the time. We don’t have that luxury.”

Currently setting the pace as one of the only female producers in South Africa’s Amapiano scene and well known for her flawless presence in studio and on stage, DBN GOGO has made her name from performing at Afropunk to Tshwanefontein and ULTRA — and she’s itching to take her sound to the rest of our beautiful continent. Her debut album 'Thokoza Café', created in tandem with DJ and producer Dinho, features some heavy hitting basslines with carefully crafted tracks (one of which is the first ever Francophone amapiano track, 'French Kiss') with a spirited live set dubbed GlassOff that keeps everyone thoroughly entertained.

“Men just tend to give us the same thing over and over. And even when you go see them at a show, it's not something exciting... They all look the same; they're dressed the same, they're not doing anything new. You know, half the guys aren't even having fun while they're DJing. They're not even smiling! And it's just like... women have come into such a nice place in this industry to be able to not only show their talents, but express themselves as artists. We can go so much further than just DJing. Our whole aesthetic can play into it. We look more interesting. We sound more interesting. Our ideas are more interesting. I just think we have a lot more to give.”

ALBA NALO
One of a handful of femme producers in the region, Namibian artist Alba Nalo has been championing her sound for some years now, since taking DJing seriously after co-hosting a late-night mix show on UNAM radio in 2012. She went on to win a DJ competition hosted by 99FM and Amarula in 2014, and later won the first all female DJ battle hosted by Jokers in 2016. Together with DJ Maggz, she founded Afroberries — a platform that aims to empower women who aim to carve out their own place within the music industry, earning the duo a place on Red Bull’s list of Opinion Leaders & Brand Ambassadors for 2017 in their respective fields. Since then, she released three of her own singles, with another on the way. Additionally, she hosts an IGTV project that focuses on promoting Namibian music of all styles. DJing has allowed her to explore other avenues such as singing, emcee-ing and dancing, opening new ways for her to connect with any crowd she stands proudly before.

“My journey has been quite exciting but also such an enormous learning curve. Frankly, I had no idea that female DJing was uncommon here in Namibia, so some people would stand in front of me either in amazement, wondering whether I was actually mixing or playing a pre-recorded mix... it was a weird time! But all in all I’m pretty lucky that the industry was very accommodating to me during my come up and I’ll always be grateful for that. Over the years more women started feeling comfortable DJing, but evidently we still have a long way to go because the ratio of female DJs to male DJs is still extremely low.”

SIO
Despite South Africa’s lockdown, Siobhan King made major personal moves in 2020. In the literal sense she moved into a new home, and in the figurative sense, made the transition from being merely a featuring artist to an artist in her own right — and picked up DJing as well as expanding on her production skills and truly owning her creative might. In this post she talks about how her switching to production was met with resistance, and how her EP 'Features' was her way of expressing the frustration she came to feel with being undervalued within the house music scene. Having wrote a song detailing violence against women for one of South Africa’s national TV shows on SABC 2, It’s a Feminist Thing, Sio’s intention is clear; this is her time and she will do with it as she pleases, for the sake of her own bliss. With this she’s been able to cast her creative net wide, mesmerising audiences worldwide whether through a capella and poetry, or accompanied by acoustic guitar or syncopated synths.

“I’ve been having a lot of conversations with my peers and colleagues. They say you’re saturating the market and you’re a vocalist - a female one at that - so you need to cut off access to you etc., etc. But Corona hit and we could all die! That’s what I believe. We can’t be that precious about things. It’s like buying beautiful crockery and putting it on a shelf for a special occasion. What’s the point? You’re alive today.”

Get 'Features' here.

Read this next: The exploitation of Black women vocalists in house music

LIZWI
Known as the Zulu “Queen of Tribal House”, South African Nokuphiwa 'Lizwi' Mbatha has become a firm favourite in global dance music circles, ensuring that every production she graces really gleams. In an unforgettable moment during Black Coffee’s Cercle set in France, the crowd is visibly shaken by her vocal on 'Traveller', a track that to this day is earth-shatteringly entrancing. Recently representing on Nervous Records alongside Benjy and Levy M on 'Makukhanye' (with also got remix treatment from Ralf Gum), Lizwi is gearing up for a year of key releases that see the past, present and future converge around her goose-pimple inducing call for communion.

"I felt like a goddess that day. In that moment, I fully understood the purpose of the talent given by God and my ancestors. I fell more in love with my voice, my style and the power in it. It’s more of me getting it out there for people to know and understand what the feel of raw African music is, and I can say I'm happy to see that people are getting to know and love this genre. They don't have to understand the lyrics but the emotions resonate in tribal music. It’s proof that music really is a language in itself."

NINIOLA
Niniola is one of the most celebrated women to come out of Nigeria’s dance landscape. One of the first to try her hand at afro house, she has dominated across streams, charts and everything in between, garnering attention from the likes of Beyoncé, Missy Elliot and DJ Snake, particularly on 2017’s Sars-produced 'Maradona', a game changer for Naija beats to this day. On releases such as her 'Colours and Sounds' album from 2020 and this year's '6th Heaven' EP, Niniola leans on her tenacious spirit and African roots as a source for true power.

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