Following their recent release on Codek records, we caught up with Alma Negra who have recorded the first mix in the Tuckshop Mix Series.
Alma Negra have been providing pepper hot, dance floor ready cuts for more than a minute now. The Basel-based collective have had their percussion-driven, groove-laced workouts released on labels such as Basic Fingers, Heist, Sofrito and their very own Alma Negra Records.
A thoughtful fusion of Latin and African rhythms, sprinkled with influences spanning the spectrum, mean their records are a must-have for any selector. With two releases under their belt already this year, the Manta EP and Fire EP showcase exactly what these guys are all about.
Last time we saw them was 2019, when we hosted their debut live show at The Jazz Cafe. With an ever-evolving live show and plenty of projects underway, we thought it would be the perfect time to learn a little more.
We had a chat with Dersu, who also provided a mix full of funk, disco and afro-laden beats. Click play and read away.
“We mostly have an idea for the first two or three tracks but then it’s a moment in time… freestyle. We hope you like it!” – Alma Negra
So, how are you guys finding lockdown in Switzerland?
Well , in comparison to other countries in Europe we are really lucky. It’s not a complete lockdown so we are still allowed to go outside and meet other people, so at least its not the total isolation.
With so much time on your hands, what have you been doing to keep busy?
We spend a lot of time in the studio in this crazy time and try to focus on new music, but also taking more time for the family and try to live healthy. Yes.. I listen to a lot of music at the moment too 😉
It is certainly a great time to discover new music – if you could recommend one album to listen right now, what would it be?
The latest album by Roberto Fonseca-Yesun is really great and also the soundtrack of The Photograph by Robert Glasper is in my playlist at the moment.
What is the club scene like in Switzerland? Are there any DJs/producers you would like to recommend us from your local scene?
We have a small scene in Switzerland but a lot of good DJs and producers. Melodie Symphonie makes beautiful music. These guys called Somatic Rituals are amazing DJs and gifted producers that I’m sure we will hear a lot in the future. Luca Duran with his label Akoya Circles makes great tunes too, recently on Clone Records. Shaka makes nice productions. I could go on here and name so many more people 🙂
So your latest EP release has just dropped and it sounds great – can you tell us a bit about the concept behind it?
Thank you 🙂 … It has no specific concept except that the EP has to groove and I think it makes sense to have different sounds on it. We just have a lot of unreleased tracks and the guys from Codek chose those 3 tracks. I trust in their selection. 🙂
The vocals on all the tracks sound great too. How did you normally go about sourcing them? Are they all samples or have you worked with any vocalists?
Well it really depends. We made EPs where we sang all the vocals on our own. Sometimes we use samples from old field recordings or sample banks. The vocals on the tracks from this EP are classic edits or let’s say remixes.
Previous to this EP, you released a remix of ‘Paz – Carpel Mambo’ on Codek Records, how did working with the label come about?
It’s a funny story. The guys from Codek (In Flagranti) are originally from our hometown – Basel, and they’ve recently returned here.They left Switzerland in the 80s / 90s and moved to New York where they launched their label. So really it was by accident that we hang around in the same bars here in Basel and became friends. We also DJ’d together and have a common taste for dance music.
We know you’re big on digging, where are some of your favourite spots and why?
Rush Hour in Amsterdam, they have such great taste ranging from African music to jazz and disco and it’s all really good. Also Sofa Records in Lyon is a nice place and good to find music from the Caribbean. Also the flea market in Paris can be amazing. But in the end in a lot of shops you can find something good, it just depend on what you looking for. For example, go to a rock store and look for jazz records – sometimes in these places you can find some amazing stuff.
From previous interviews you’ve highlighted hip-hop as one of your first musical loves. What would you say first inspired you to create music which reflects the sound you produce today?
I think when we started DJing we opened up our mind for much more dance music, not only funk and original gems. I loved the edits by Sofrito, and also Moodymann was very important and paved the way for house and in general 4-to-the-floor beats. Production-wise we are influenced by the jazz, funk and African music our parents listened to as well as the hip-hop we listened to when we were teenagers.
It’s the funk, groove, percussion and bassline on 1 that’s in the blood, and is still influencing us in our own music.
We debuted your stunning live show at The Jazz Cafe a few years back. Since then we’ve seen live streams with added musicians and singers. How has it developed since the launch and what’s your vision for live shows?
We work with some amazing musicians and developed the live sound to a next level. But it’s still not clear in which direction it will go with the live thing. We recorded two tracks with the band and it’s ready for release. We are in contact with labels and hopefully can release soon some live music soon!
Do you have any plans in the pipeline?
Well, we have already release two EPs this year. The new one on Codek and the Manta EP on our own label that you should check out.
We are also happy to be releasing another EP on Heist Recordings after the summer with an amazing remixer but I can’t reveal her name just yet 😉 We’re looking forward to announcing lots more soon!
Keep up to date with Alma Negra’s latest movements here.
Check out Alma Negra’s contribution to the Tuckshop Mix Series here.