Mr Silk – Founder and creator of Drums x Vibes – thank you for taking the time out of you busy schedule to do this interview.
R+R - So, let's start at the source.
Mr. Silk - I used to do R&B and Hip Hop parties around London and in private listening to House music. Then I stumbled on what used to be SA house and which is now Afro house. I used make a CD of myself listen to it in my car.
Before I knew friends started stealing my CDs. I then did a mix and put it on soundcloud and from there someone heard it and I got offered a radio show on Reprezent Radio I was there for a few months and then I got a call to join what was then Bang Radio Now the Beat1036 FM before Then I was invited by BBC Radio 1xtra to do shows showcasing the music. This was rather surreal, as it was a bedroom hubby that has grown into a major radio show.
Listeners of the BEAT 1036FM radio show, were constantly asking where they could go to dance to this sort of music – and that’s how The Afrohouse Party was born; through popular demand. Every last Sunday we host the Drums Afro house Party currently at Roxy at Tottenham Court Rd station. This is where we get to play afro house and expose punters to new afro house Gqom sound.
One of the things I particularly love about this is the people who turn up, for the love of music. The vibrations and the energy at these events is tremendous, the atmosphere is electric and everyone seems to always have a great time. This isn’t something that is synonymous with other events. No bravado, no hang ups, just great vibes and great music.
R+R – It looks like Afro house is doing well.
Mr. Silk - Afro house has a number of great DJs from Black Coffee, Enoo Napa, Shimza, Culoe De Song, Afrozila, Boddhi Satva, Da Capo, Hyena and more. Within the scene you have nuances and variety of styles to choose from Deep Afro house, to Electronic, Tribal and Tech afro house. The countries these DJs/producers come from has an influence on the type of music they produce. This is not just a flash in the pan movement or a fad. It is an exciting time for Afro House in particular and Africa in general. When this all started this everyone thought it was a flash in the pan, but this is here to stay.
R+R - What is it about the genre that gets people interested and hooked?
Mr. Silk - I think for me it has a lot to do with the drums. This may sound rather trivial but the drums take away the façade that is the person who we have to be on a day to day and not who you are inside that you see in the mirror.
R+R - What do you mean?
Mr. Silk – What I mean by that is, you know when you are at work and you have to behave a certain way or your manager has asked you to do something which you disagree with but smile at them and just do it. When that music hits you, all those worries are gone. You can just be yourself – that vibe interacts with others creating an amazing buzz and vibrations. The music gets rid of all that and you can be who you are with no repercussions of being judged by anyone.
R+R – What inspired you in this line of work?
Mr. Silk – It was the fact that people kept asking me for mixes and people stealing cds from my car. This was great, I realise that there was a lack of pure Afro house DJs. Don’t get me wrong there were other DJs doing it out there but none were pure Afro house and I saw an opportunity to be just that. The music is growing and going through cycles and so on.
R+R – Who inspires you?
Mr. Silk – Oh gosh! You're gonna get me in trouble. I know some of these guys, I need to be careful with what I say. In all seriousness, I would be remiss if I didn’t start with Black Coffee as he is the leading light. Others in the space that I admire are Shimza, Djeff and Boddhi Satvah. In the UK I like Aluku Rebels, Fiddla etc. As for production I do like Enoo Napa and Oscar P the list goes on!.
R+R – We talked about the UK scene, what do you say to people who say the UK is lacking behind its European counterparts?
Mr. Silk – The UK does tend to lack behind, you have to just look at Djoon in France, doing great stuff to promote Afro House., with some big name DJs like Manoo. The Dutch are also ahead in the scene. Although we’re behind, London appeal alone could propel the UK far beyond the Europeans.
R+R - Why do you think the UK is behind?
Mr. Silk - The music is still breaking through. Black coffee is a name that people know. So people will flock to that. There needs to be a place where people can go to after a black coffee night. There are number of promoters that are trying to push this. Tribal Soul, 4 to the Floor, Drums x Vibes and Kemet Soul guys.
R+R – You do an awful lot, DJing, Radio presenter and club promoter. How do you fit it all in?
Mr. Silk – These are all things that I am interested in. It all interlinks, the radio presenter fits in well with the Djing and allows me to talk about the Afro nights I do. This is all good and well in the space.
R+R - Which one do you like most?
Mr. Silk - This is easy – DJ is the one, as it is the one time you see how you can connect with the crowd through your music. You can drop a track and everybody goes wild equally you can play a song that will deflate the room and the feedback is instant.
R+R – I hear that you are producing, what can we expect from you?
Mr. Silk – Yes I am. I have just finished a tune called Gong signed to Oscar P’s label. I’m excited to get this out there to see how the public takes to it. It is available on all major retailer. There are few more in the pipeline working with DJs and producers etc.
R+R – What do you have instore for Drums and Vibes this year?
Mr. Silk – The plan is to get a more regular fixture/monthly fixture on a Friday or Saturday night. I have to thank everyone that has helped set it up and push this forward. One thing we try to do is push the up and coming DJs such as Simone Martinez, Angela Rose, Patris Boy. These are all guys who are brilliant at what they do and need to be heard and enjoyed. We will always include your regulars, Aluku, Fiddla who are holding up the foundations. But we need to make space for the younger guys to be part of the movement. It is natural progression. We also assisted in the launch of Drums Radio. On there we expect to have 247 afro house radio shows. Now not only is it on my show from Beat1036 FM but you can get your fix from DJs all over the world. This should take it to the next level.
We plan on doing a drums x Vibes in NY – we plan to be in ADE, we want to push the Afro house. In the Far East – there is demand too. DJ Helen Ting, Dazzle Drum etc. So there is so much going on. Australia and Columbia, Morocco. DJ JoJo Flores in Canada. I’m terribly excited by where this is going.
R+R – If I understand currently, you want this to cross over into the mainstream here in the UK. Some may say that it will lose its authenticity once you get to that point. What are your thoughts?
Mr. Silk– Let me harp back to a track from Alicia keys – “In common” If you listen to the original, that is an Afro house tune. Because they didn’t know what it was or what genre to place it in, they called it music. In other words given the right access and channels Afro house can be and will be a global movement. Another case in point in one of Beyonce videos she has some dancers from S.A and they danced to Afro house. They just took the Afro house moves put into an R&B video. So what you have here is dance, music and people, which is how Hip Hop started. I’m not going to even start to discuss GQOM and how that movement is growing! We will be here all night!
R+R – In other words it is a culture, a movement
Mr. Silk– It most certainly is, you’ve got style of music, dress and dance. That is a definition of cultural movement.
R+R– So dead or alive who would you like to share a stage with? Name 3
Mr. Silk – Lets start with the king of pop, MJ. Marvin Gaye and I would’ve love to have heard Biggie Smalls on an Afro House track.
R+R – That’s very interesting and we certainly look forward to your production. It must be good.