Photo: Press (Jenifa Mayanja)
It can be hard sometimes to keep up with Jenifa Mayanja, but it will definitely be worth. With Bu-Mako, Sound Warrior and EDJ she runs three record labels, regularly releases music of her own and is still touring the world after around a quarter of a century in this business. Her contribution to our Groove podcast however takes it slowly, although if you’ve heard her play in the past 25 years you’ll know that this is how she gets down, as she herself puts it.
In your Off The Tracks feature together with Jus-Ed, you have written about “longevity without a hit“. What are the biggest obstacles that independent musicians and label owners have to face in the dance music scene?
Wow, that is such a big list! I will narrow it down maybe to this current climate what independent musicians and label owners are dealing with in terms of obstacles: saturation, speculative buying, lack of knowledgeable musical aficionados working counters in record stores, actual record stores, hype, PR machines, absence of varied musical tastes which used to be cultivated by people actually just buying music they loved and not what they thought they should have or what has been hyped up… I did say I would say a few but all these things have made it challenging for musicians to stay true to themselves and label owners to make decisions about what to release.
You have been running Bu-Mako Recordings for more than ten years now. While initially a platform for your own productions, you have increasingly brought in other producers over the past few years. Which philosophy do you follow with Bu-Mako?
The philosophy hasn’t changed much in my mind or in the content Bu-Mako offers. The mission is to release music for music lovers overflowing with spirituality, originality, musicality and passion.
I have been very picky about the artists i have chosen to release on Bu-Mako and what I also choose to release on the label. It seems sometimes like I might be shooting myself in the foot when I release more straightforward “dance tracks” on other people’s labels, but I want the musical imprint to remain unique and identifiable to the fans while also staying true to the spirit of the label.
The “Take a Ride Mix” you’ve submitted to our Groove podcast starts off slowly and showcases a lot of different styles. What was your idea behind it?
The “Take a Ride Mix” was surprisingly smooth and fun to make. When I make a mix in this kind of context, I am really thinking of people in their everyday life looking for something interesting to listen to – whether at work, on the train, cooking, etc. I wanted it to stand out but to also be inclusive of many kinds of genres, moods and tempos. There is something I think for most kinds of tastes, some dub, some ambient, jazz, fusion, R’n’B, house. But if you have heard me play in the last 25 years, you know this is also how I get down! I like to mix things up when I am playing because I think it is more satisfying for everyone, including myself.
The mix also features a track by Cherushii, one of the victims of the Ghost Ship fire in December 2016, that was also included in a tribute compilation you’ve released through Sound Warrior. Which relationship did you have with Cherushii?
I have reached the point where I can play her songs she contributed to Sound Warrior 005 without crying. The song in particular that I play on this mix was my favorite of the two she sent us and I was so excited for it to come out and for people to be blown away by her talent. I knew Cherushii professionally, we sadly never met in person, but she was an absolute pleasure to work with in the short time we connected with her. Her incredible talent still lives on in her many productions.
Through Sound Warrior, you together with Dakini9 have so far exclusively released mini compilations that feature female artists. What are your goals with Sound Warrior?
I have been humbled and gratified by the response Sound warrior has received from our very first release. But frankly, running three different kinds of labels – Sound Warrior, EDJ records and Bu-Mako – has been quite a challenge. Since Sound Warrior 005, I primarily run the label myself with Dakini9 as co-founder but not as an active participant. Needless to say I did think of taking a break from the label. However every time I think about ending the label since our mission to make a contribution towards equality and create opportunities for other women has been realized, I get emails from fans telling us how much they love Sound Warrior. So the plan is to continue searching for more upcoming producers and bring their music to the forefront. So if anyone fits the bill, please send us demos to firstname.lastname@example.org. By the way sorry guys no submissions, please read the mission statement!
Last but not least: Where can we see you live or behind the decks in the near future, and what are your plans as a producer and label owner?
So where am I next? In the immediate future I will be at Datcha event in Montreal, Elsewhere rooftop with my favorite crew Jordan and Phonegirl1. Later this year I will have some nice gigs at Whole United Festival at Griessmuehle Berlin and also at Helsinki’s Kaiku. As for releases, I have my EP coming out on Bu-Mako Recordings in the late fall, it has been almost two years since I had a vinyl release on my label. I also have an EP coming on Deep Art Recordings, which has also been like a second home for my musical leanings as the owner George is really supportive and gives freedom to create whatever music I like for his label. I am getting back to the core message of Bu-Mako by sticking closely to the musical vision and continuing to support the artists I have chosen to work with. My artist Denis Clifford has an incredible album coming out in the winter time on Bu-Mako that I feel should be in every music collection. By the way, if you missed my other artists’ release on Bu-Mako, Makkhen Gigga from South Africa, their album was eclectic and good – get it! I have one more artist coming out on the label, a producer from Ireland, Sean Bird. Dope, dope tracks coming from him in 2019 on Bu-Mako. I am going to release a lot more music in various genres on my label in many different kinds of formats reflective of the current tides of musical consumption. I feel good about the music I am making, I am pushing myself to try a lot of things but to also stay dear to the musical ideals that fans have come to expect from my music. I am also going to put more time into my initiative to preserve house music culture and developing my creatives workshops for musicians and DJs. Peace.
Stream: Jenifa Mayanja – Groove Podcast 169
01. Gino Soccio – Closer
02. Bob Marley – The Heathen
03. The It – Aquatic Movement
04. Deep Loop – Jazz Sauce
05. Skipworth And Turner – Thinkin about your love
06. Donald Byrd – Love Has Come Around
07. Paradise Inc – Deep Thoughts
08. Gigi Testa/Joi Cardwell – Dream On
09. Cherushii – No Doubt
10. Zo – We Are on the Move
11. Jenifa Mayanja – Warrior Strutt
12. DJ Aakmael – Mood Capacity
13. Lars Barkthun – Elysium