Hyenah launches Berlin based label: RISE Music
This week we’re celebrating the launch of new label RISE, a product of the popular Afro House night / brand! Headed up by Hyenah, our #1 Afro House artist of 2016. We caught up with Hyenah to discuss the Afro scene, the label and the first release from Floyd Lavine.
Hello Hyenah, thanks for chatting to us today! Where in the world are you and what are you up to?
Hi, thanks for having me. That’s a good question that I have repeatedly been asking myself recently. I am here and there. Last weekend DJing in Paris and this one in London and Munich. In between I am working on finishing my next EPs: The first one for Jimpster’s Freerange imprint and the second one for my own, brand-spankin’ new label – tataa! – called RISE MUSIC.
Congratulations on the new label! Give us a rundown on the history of RISE so far for those who don’t know.. And why have you decided to launch your own label from the brand?
RISE is our – so far bi-monthly, from July onwards monthly – club night that we are hosting at the infamous Watergate club in Berlin. It’s main focus is on African House music being featured on both floors. Actually it makes us – the RISE CREW – really proud to have established something that fresh in Berlin. As you might know, competition here is tough and the overall standard is high. It feels though as the city was waiting for something like RISE. A night that is focusing on what African House music has to offer, featuring artists like Black Coffee, Culoe de Song, Shimza or DaCapo from South Africa but also on Djeff Afrozilla, Osunlade, Henrik Schwarz, Manoo, Mr. Raoul K, the Djoon Experience or Pablo Fierro and obviously us three residents: Floyd Lavine, Dede and my humble self. We focus on the “Groove”, on the soul of the music and on good vibes only. And we are really happy to bring people together: Watergate’s regular guests and more and more of the young and very inspiring African community in Berlin. And that mixture is just vibrant and unstoppable! But why did we turn it into a label? It somewhat was a logical next step: On the event side we already succeeded bringing Africa and Europe closer together – at least in Berlin and whenever we are having our RISE nights anywhere else. On the label side the worlds and sounds are still somewhat segregated. There are the African labels in the Afro House world and there are the House labels with sometimes an exotic release or remix. We wanted to create a platform that we needed for our music, for our approach for what we feel. A label that is bridging Afro House and African artists on one side with the European or Western world quality club music. We want the label to provide exposure to the vast space and creative opportunities in between these two: The place where modern Africa meets the best of quality global House or Deep House.
The debut release on the label is hot! Tell us about Floyd Lavine and how you found him?
He was not hard to find since he is part of the crew. We have known each other for a long time now and shared stages in South Africa as well as in Berlin. Floyd is one of my oldest companions so I am super happy to leave the honour to him to be responsible for the debut of RISE MUSIC. And boy did he deliver… Can’t stress enough that David Mayer and Pablo Fierro did a fantastic job with contributing their own approach to the release.
Afro House has a very loyal and solid following, what do you think it is about the genre that people love?
Hmmm. good question. I actually see different aspects when it comes to Afro House or African House Music. On one hand, there is the Afro House fan that has been following the genre for a long time, who just loves the groove and positive energy, the soulfulness and the way it gently makes you dance without slapping you in the face. And on the other hand there is the classic House or Deep House fan that got introduced to Afro House via Black Coffee, Culoe de Song, Osunlade or even Dixon, Solomun or Ame. For him (or her) it is a fresh breeze in a world that sometimes is evolving in micro genres. It adds the soul, the vibe and that special fresh spirit to a genre that has been evolved through fantastic sound engineering and perfect acoustics in the past few years.
The Afro House scene has seen a meteoric rise in the last couple of years, how do you think stores like Traxsource have played a part in that?
Obviously it makes it a whole lot easier to find the good stuff when there is an Afro House section at Traxsource. On Beatport or iTunes it would seriously require hard core digging and research before you enter the shop to find something relevant. So thanks to Traxsource there is a whole lot of proper exposure on artists that would not be visible outside their key markets. There is still a long way to go. Quite a few big names from e.g. South Africa are still not available at Traxsource (and any of the other major DJ shops) I am missing Black Motions catalogue for example. They would have easily pushed me off that pole position.. Can you do that for me, please? ;)
You’ve quickly become a staple artist in the Afro House scene (and our #1 Afro House artist of 2016), tell us about your experiences of the genre so far, do you think it will continue to grow?
I am extremely thankful to have been voted to be the Afro House artist of the year on Traxsource. Actually, when the polls came out I was checking it excitedly going through the list from 100 to 1 and gave up at about 10 a bit disappointed to not have made to the top 100 at all. I guess I was wrong. (never been as happy about being wrong though… ) I am very sure that Afro House did not even take off properly yet. One reason I mentioned before #freshbreeze4deephouse the second one is, that many people still don’t know anything about it. But they will. One key factor will be Black Coffee and his weekly Sat Night residency at Hï Ibiza. This is going to bring so many more people to the table. The stuff is good, fresh and they are going to want more of it. No doubt. Btw. Thank you so much, Black Coffee for inviting me over twice this summer (July 1st and August 5th). I really, really appreciate it.
For those just finding their feet in the Afro genre – one of our most popular on site – Which artists should they be checking out and why?
Hmmm, good question. Afro House is so versatile in itself. When it comes to my taste though, I would watch out for Culoe de Song, who already got some major exposure though. There are also people like Enoo Napa who is constantly delivering some crazy freshness. There are a few people around him that are on the same tip and just as good. The label MoBlack always delivers, even though they release so much, that it is sometimes hard to properly follow up on each release. Offering Recordings is also very reliable. They are also from out of Africa that are going very strong. Pablo Fierro and Jose Marquez for example. And quite a few people from Greece. Phew! it is really hard to pick and name. Much respect to Greece by the way and Madorasindahouse in particular. The Afro House scene there is really impressive and was much ahead of almost everyone else in Europe!
And finally, what’s up next for the label?
The next release is going to be by myself and I can’t wait to let it off the chain. I still have to decide though if I want to release two originals or one original and one or two remixes. That one track that I reserved for RISE MUSIC is special though. I am playing it in basically every set and every time people go nuts. So, I guess you can imagine how excited I am to have this one finally coming out. We – the RISE CREW – do want to work with artists that are close to the event and thus the brand. So hopefully people like Mr. Raoul K or Pablo Fierro will be on board soon too. And Dede finally needs to release some of his magic. We will see though. We don’t want to rush things. We want organic growth and see how things evolve naturally.