Living, working and playing in France, Dj Zazu recently compiled the first of her series of mixes specifically and uniquely curated for Bubblegum Club under the name Bubblegum Mix Vol 20. True to the multiplicity of Dj Zazu’s own embodied experience and the wide cast net of her artistic and sonic influences, the mix’s cup runneth over with a vast range of sonorities she grew up with and those she found along the way, “I discovered electronic music with rave parties, I love harsh sound[s] so I try to combine all those genres”, she says in our conversation.
The first of Zazu’s mixes I had initially listened to — which she had compiled for the channel À la Folie Paris — begins with a Crooning somewhat nasal(y) voice, almost reminiscent of Moonchild Sanelly’s and is carried by a house heavy beat — an unexpected arrival to my ears — which perhaps unimaginatively where expecting to hear a sound that would (if it did harken back to the African continent at all), be interlaced with sounds you would associate with Francophone Africa; not the house and Kwaito heavy sounds of South Africa.
“I discover[ed] South African music by listening [to] the Queen Brenda Fassie when I was young. My mum used to travel a lot so she brings us some CDs from those countries. One day I found a series of videos from [the] Major Lazer channel called ‘Blow Your Head‘, and Citizen Boy was explaining what was gqom music and I loved it.”
There are lyrical moments in the mix that do carry that Salif Keita-esque honey soaked sound.
True to her approach that seeks to speak to the multiplicity of her cultural influences and embodied experience, coupled with a way of creating sonic links outside of tradition; the first mix Dj Zazu has compiled for Bubblegum Club is so of its own place and time. With a track-list that connects the sounds of Dj mujava, Fatigado, Jumping back slash and Dj laxxxiste amongst others. While listening to it, I am simultaneously so rooted in the sonic genealogies of this here and now but at the same time there is something about it that transposes me to a fictive reality of fictive sonorities. I’m speaking here specifically about the Zion Dance Party from the Matrix Reloaded, and with me eyes closed and the volume full up, I could almost be there amongst the sweating dancing bodies of that distant (none)reality. Ultimately for the Dj, “it’s just all about the music”. However, one should not overlook the fact that the music itself does also speak to parts of who she is, of her culture and of her identity; a celebration of Blackness painted in sound. Overall though she says, “as long as you feel joy and the music is good when you play then it’s perfect”.