Photo: Press (Azu Tiwaline)
Azu Tiwaline seemingly came out of nowhere very suddenly and with her Draw Me A Silence LP for IOT Records and a follow-up EP on Livity Sound made it perfectly clear that she intends to stay and is in it for the long haul. In fact however, the artist behind the moniker has been active in the music scene has been active for more than two decades, so the Azu Tiwaline project is part of a logical progression that led her from techno to dubstep and finally back to her native Tunisia, whose Berber sounders she integrates into her music as well. Her mix for the Groove podcast picks up on the percussive character of her music, balancing between classic sounds and contemporary approaches.
First off, how are you doing and what have you been up to?
I’m fine, thanks. Just back from a nice long music session with my mate Cinna Peyghamy.
You’ve also worked together with Cinna for your Livity Sound EP and produced the track “Violet Curves” for the Door to the Cosmos compilation. How did you get to know each other and what does your recent residency together entail?
I discovered Cinna a few years ago under his alias Cikkun and last year, I went to one of his concerts, it was his new project under his real name. I really enjoyed his music, playing his tombak with and through a modular. At the end of the show, I just went to ask him if he would be interested in collaborating. A few weeks after, we were recording in the studio together. And a few months later again, the Magnetic Service EP was released on Livity Sound. Our last track , “Violet Curves,” opens a huge compilation from On The Corner Records, released in September. Everything went super fast in fact, as it is super cool to make some music together. So now we’re trying to plan as many music sessions as we can to work on new tracks and our live performance, even if we have our respective solo projects.
2020 has been a productive year for you so far after you’ve launched the Azu Tiwaline project just last year with the release of a sole track, “Through Exodub.” You’re not at all a beginner, however, having participated in dance music for roughly 25 years now. What made you start anew under this name, and what concept are you following with it?
This new name has marked a certain change in my life, an inner change but also a change of place of life. I went to live as close as possible to my roots in the south of Tunisia, at the gates of the Sahara desert, three years ago. And since then I have been nourished by more softness, calm, large spaces and silence. I wanted to change the way my music sounded, too, because it no longer echoed where I lived. I wanted something more organic, soft, natural. Little by little, the first album Draw Me A Silence was born.
You nowadays split your time between France and Tunisia and have gone on record to say that your environment is quite important to you when producing music, and indeed also field recordings play a role in your work. Where do you find and/or record those and what kind of sounds are you looking for?
The environment in which I am influences me a lot. I really need to be surrounded by sweet energy, nature. I like the sound design work, too, and I incorporate it when it is needed in my productions. I like the idea that by closing your eyes and listening to the sound, you can imagine and situate yourself in a space, a place. Field recording is a great tool for this. I love to record the simple sounds of nature, wind, insects, the souk, the streets, just life. I wish I could tell you that I always go out with my zoom recorder and that I collect all kinds of sounds but it’s not true! I do sessions from time to time when the urge or the idea comes.
In a recent feature for Untitled #909, you’ve listed some tracks by artists that have had a huge impact on you personally, amongst them Shackleton, someone who much like you has put a lot of focus on both dub methods and rhythmic experimentation. What drew you to his work and what would you say have you learnt from him as a producer?
When Dubstep arrived in the early 2000’s, it was thanks to artists like him, Peverelist and Applebim that I dived into it. And since that time, Shackleton always manages to surprise me in his artistic choices and directions. Each track tells you a story. I love his use of drums, voice, space… there is a delighted furious taste for freedom in all of this.
Before picking up DJing, you were first and foremost a live performer and now prefer to play hybrid sets. How do you usually prepare for these?
I’m just trying to know about the place, public, the other music and the artists, what slot time I have and I imagine what sort of music could be ideal for this moment, this vibe. Most of the time, I play a live set and I put other tracks inside. And sometimes it is the opposite. I prefer to mix and then just add some atmospheres, voices, FX sound, and so on.
What was the idea behind your contribution to our Groove podcast?
I always try to focus on this common thread for my sets: the massive use of different rhythms and percussion in a way that is both traditional and modern. Sometimes it’s classy, but most of the time it’s raw. Playing with contrasts is super fun, especially for an online mix, where I feel more free to dare than in a party at 3 a.m.
Last but not least: what are your plans for the future?
Every plan I try to make since the pandemic started is being scheduled or cancelled. So, apart from producing some music, I prefer not to make plans for a while. I had the great pleasure to remix Fazer Drums for their next release on Squama Recordings, released on the 13th of November. After that, let’s see!
Stream: Azu Tiwaline – Groove Podcast 275
01. Wahono – “Pakar Gula Gending” – DISK records
02. Azu Tiwaline feat Cinna Peyghamy – “Violet Curves” – On The Corner Records
03. Saphileaum – “Thousand Clouds” – Silent Season Records
04. E-Unity – “Inner Osc” – TEMET Records
05. Henry Greenleaf – “Balal” (forthcoming)
06. Audeka – “Batu” – YUKU records
07. Drums Off Chaos – “Inner Circles” –
08. Efdemin – “At The Strangers House” – Ostgut Ton Records
09. NRLSD – “Stepback” – Man Band Records (forthcoming)
10. Neinzer – “Nabi” – Where to Now Records
11. Hodge & Randomer – Slipping (Kowton remix) – Clone Basement Series Records
12. Laksa – “Fwd Ghosts” – Timedance Records
13. Ploy – “Molotov” – Lies Records (Forthcoming)
14. Henry Greenleaf – “Rumble” – (Forthcoming)
15. Ninos Du Brasil – “O Vento Chama Seu Nome” – Hospital Productions
16. Si Begg – ‘It is all over ” – Remix by Loan
17. Fazer Drums – “Sound Measures” – Azu Tiwaline Rework – Squama Recordings (Forthcoming)